Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer</b>, edited by G.W.Thomas, is a collection of stories cut from the same cloth as the old Thieves World books by Robert Asprin and Lynn Abbey. Based on a shared-world concept, Thomas presents a series of short stories from 14 authors. Additional books are planned, possibly utilizing the heroes and villains introduced in this anthology. Of special note are the wonderful illustrations by Mats Minnhagen.
The world of Magistria is created by the transformation of a goddess, an event detailed in a short preamble by Thomas. This sets the stage for the authors to use their imagination, creating and expanding on the basic elements that make up the shared-world. The magic system is based on such fixtures as air, water, fire and metal.
The stories vary in quality and style, as is to be expected. And as suggested by the title, they lean heavily on magic. While I applaud the effort of Mr. Thomas to bring this project together, I feel more attention should have been spent editing certain stories and correcting the myriad number of typos that slipped into the final product.
What follows is a brief synopsis of each story.
Bring Me Three Severed Heads – by Lawrence Barker
Four students, each deemed most worthy to one day succeed Master Devlok, must first undergo a test that will see only one survive. The story is imaginative and features some intense imagery. Though it starts slowly, the action builds to an ending with a nice twist. Though I feel the prose could have benefited from one more edit, it serves well as a good introduction.
Heartwood Oakenlife by Andrew C. Ferguson
Dapple is transformed into an oak tree to escape the soldiers charged with killing all the Wood Wights, Canny Men and Whisperers of Caskieberran and the surrounding areas. The story, while interesting, suffered from a shifting point of view between Dapple and the town Provost, John de Groot. And without giving away the ending, one wonders if some form of subsequent investigation and retribution wouldn’t be due from the city.
The Soul of the Ice by Jack Hillman
An avalanche causes destruction in the valley. Yet in the aftermath, the surviving villagers discover a baby floating down a river in a basket. Is it a good omen, or bad? The story, rich with potential, comes across as uneven. The young boy, Aglu, speaks in a manner well beyond his age, which I found detracted from his innocence.