|Martin H Greenberg & Alexander Potter (Editors): Assassin Fantastic|
(Paperback), ISBN 0-7564-0002-3
Assassin Fantastic covers a wide range of stealthy activity. Michelle West's "Echoes" details the life and death training of young wannabe assassins in a subterranean college for killers. Stephen Leigh's "Green Stones" covers the other end of the scale. Should a retired master of the arts train a young and impatient newcomer or kill him?
Even dark fantasy plays a role, courtesy of Leyte Jefferson's "He." This strange story -- probably the most enigmatic in the book -- tells of Beholden werewolves trained as assassins and the betrayal of one particular werewolf by its master. Or try P. N. Elrod's "Myhr's Adventures in Hell," where the hero must journey into hell itself to perform a most unusual assassination.
Sometimes the assassins become unwilling pawns. Jane Lindskold's loyal heroine in "A Touch of Poison" must choose between poisoning her lord or losing her child.
The diverse mix of excitement and action remains consistent throughout. The stories roll along one after the other making Assassin Fantastic almost un-put-down-able. One automatically empathizes with the characters, whether cheering for the good guys or booing the bad.
But two stories stood out for this reader. In Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "Coin of the Realm," a desperate princess knows someone in her wedding party may fall to an assassin. But who? "History and Economics" by Anna Oster asks the literary question what happens when you fall in love with your sister's killer? And you do want to know the answer.
Overall I recommend readers go out there and buy, buy, buy -- or at least borrow, borrow, borrow.
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