Here is my review of the Art of War Anthology, which was edited by Petros Triantafyllou for Booknest.eu.
Featuring a whopping forty authors, this is an anthology with heart; all of the proceeds are going to the charity organization Doctors Without Borders. A work of art that’s trying to make a difference against the horrors of real-life war, which is obviously filled with heartbreak and atrocity and should be eliminated as much as possible from the face of our planet. Here’s the star-studded line-up, which has both seasoned, traditionally published authors as well as some of the most talented fresh faces from the indie side of the equation: Mark Lawrence, Ed Greenwood, Brian Staveley, Miles Cameron, John Gwynne, Sebastien De Castell, Mitchell Hogan, Stan Nicholls, Andrew Rowe, C.T. Phipps, Rob J. Hayes, Nicholas Eames, Mazarkis Williams, Ben Galley, Michael R. Fletcher, Graham Austin-King, Ed McDonald, Anna Stephens, Anna Smith Spark, RJ Barker, Michael R. Miller, Benedict Patrick, Sue Tingey, Dyrk Ashton, Steven Kelliher, Timandra Whitecastle, Laura M Hughes, J.P. Ashman, M.L. Spencer, Steven Poore, Brandon Draga, D. Thourson Palmer, D.M. Murray, Anne Nicholls, R.B. Watkinson, Charles F Bond, Ulff Lehmann, Thomas R. Gaskin, Zachary Barnes & Nathan Boyce. With a Foreword by Brian D. Anderson.
As for content, most of the stories are standard dark fantasy offerings, with all the trappings you’ve come to know and love … armored knights, gory deaths, castles and steeds and brotherhood upon the field of battle. However, I would like to list the stories that I feel are standouts, in no particular order. The first piece that really jumped out at me was from C.T. Phipps, tapping in with what I understand to be a tie-in to his Wraith Knight Series; demon sex, mansions turning into huge monsters, dessicated undead, and more all make an appearance in this quintessential slice of grim and dark fiction. A very strong showing from Rob J. Hayes as well, almost a short novelette much in the tradition of Joe Abercrombie’s Times Are Tough All Over; the reader actually receives two stories in one, the tale of war veterans trading war stories on the one hand, one a medic and one a berserker, and the story of a green recruit becoming a seasoned soldier over a long timeline.
And Michael R. Fletcher’s offering is more of the dark deliciousness that any fan of the Manifest Delusions Series will expect; a Gladiator-esque tale of life in a fighting pit, but with a serious twist; the vanquished become the living dead, and must remain in the coliseum forever, sometimes as a disembodied head. I won’t say more, but needless to say, the female warrior who is next to fight is experiencing quite a bit of stress as she heads out onto the killing sands. Readers will also greatly enjoy Dyrk Ashton’s story, which is a tale from the world featured in his Paternus series; it’s chock full of teeming hordes, multitudinous armies, enraged gods and other mythological figures, much of which is based on our real-world mythologies. A bit of a contrast in tone, M.L. Spencer’s offering brings the reader back to medieval times, with a vivid tale that has a French or European bent to it. Ed McDonald’s story was a gory bit of surprise; the story of a doomsday weapon, destined to turn the tides in a great war, basically eroding the persons of its handlers. And last but definitely not least, headliner Mark Lawrence contributes a tie-in to the Red Queen’s War trilogy, much in the spirit of the Road Brothers anthology, continuing Jalan Kendeth’s storyline with a journey through the treacherous Aral Pass and some hilarious interactions with a colorful cast of characters.
Overall, 4 out of 5 stars. Available for pre-order on Amazon now, release date: February 13, 2018.