Friday, December 6, 2013

Book Review: Amazons II

Book Review: 'Amazons II' edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson

4 / 5 Stars

‘Amazons II’ (239 pp.) is DAW Book No. 485, and was published in June, 1982. The cover artwork is by Michael Whelan. All of the stories were exclusively written for this anthology. It is the companion volume to 1979’s ‘Amazons !’, also edited by Salmonson and published by DAW.

In her Introduction, Salmonson provides a lengthy overview of the Amazon in history and legend.

The opening story, ‘For A Daughter’ by F. M. Busby, is an unremarkable tale about an Amazon who embarks on a quest for an appropriately studly man (!) to sire her offspring. Male chauvinism inevitably rears its ugly head.

Gillian Fitzgerald’s ‘The Battle Crow’s Daughter’ uses Celtic myths as background for its tale of a young women married off to a boor for the sake of promoting comity between warring nations.

In ‘Southern Lights’, by Tanith Lee, Jaisel the Amazon finds herself obliged to seek shelter in a strange village high in the snowy wastes. There is an undercurrent of creepiness to the setting and plot that makes this one of the better entries in the collection.

‘Zroya’s Trizub’, by Gordon Derevanchuk, is a folk tale based on Slavic mythology; original in setting and place, with a nice plot twist at its end.

‘The Robber Girl’, by Phyllis Ann Karr, takes the heroine from the Hans Christian Anderson tale ‘The Snow Queen’, and sets her off on her own adventure.

‘Lady of the Forest End’, by Gael Baudino, is a humorous adventure involving an Amazon named Avdoyta, and her bumbling aide, the monk Monmouth.

‘The Ivory Comb’, by Eleanor Arnason, is another folk tale, featuring some quasi-scatological humor.

‘The Borders of Sabazel’, by Lillian Stewart Carl, is a rather ponderous piece about Amazons in uneasy alliance with some overly macho male warriors.

‘Who Courts a Reluctant Maiden’, by Ardath Mayhar, features an Amazon who resolves to help a woman brutalized by an evil overseer. A good combination of whoop-ass revenge and satiric humor.

‘The Soul Slayer’, by Lee Killough, and ‘Nightwork’, by Jo Clayton, both feature Amazons addressing injustices committed by despotic males. Good action sequences, and worthy villains, make these among the better entries.

‘In the Lost lands’, by George R. R. Martin, sees Gray Alys the warrior-witch embark on a disquieting journey to the Lost Lands. The story’s bleak setting, violent tone, and carefully worded prose, make it another of the anthology’s superior entries.

In summary, editor Salmonson does a very good job in terms of eliciting quality material from her contributors, not something many DAW editors of the 80s were wont (or able) to do. ‘Amazons II’ is not just a good anthology about Amazons, but a good anthology of fantasy fiction, period.


Bob Milne said...

Wow, I completely forgot about this. I have a copy sitting on the shelf somewhere, but I don't think I ever finished it. May be time to dig it out.

Karen said...

This takes me back. I read the first volume of Amazons but not this one. I also recall reading Salmonson's Tomoe Gozen trilogy, although I can't remember much about it now. Daw certainly put out a lot of interesting material back in the day.