reviews

Evil is a Matter of Perspective

Write on: Mon, 28 Aug 2017 by  in Petrik's Reviews 3 comments Read 1505

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Grimdark fantasy fans, this anthology is the perfect place for you to find a new hidden gem in the genre.

Let me start off by saying that this anthology has one of the best production values you can find in a book; stunning cover, nineteen short stories.  Not only most of the stories are quite excellent, if you're reading this from the physical book, each story even has their mini-cover done by Jason Deem.

Picture: The Syldoon Sun mini cover (Interior artworks can only be found in the physical book.)

Evil is a Matter of Perspective: An Anthology of Antagonists, like the title implied, is a collection to show you that most of the times, ‘evil' really only depends on the side to which you belong. Right from the start, the book began with a beautifully written introduction and concept on what grimdark fantasy is all about by R. Scott Baker and the editor, Adrian Collins.

 “To write grimdark, to pursue complicated moralities in fantastic settings, is to risk the universal instincts of one's fellows in a manner no other genre can."

Almost all of the short stories here took place in each author's respective main series from a villain's POV. The only related series I've read before this collection is Manifest Delusions by Michael R. Fletcher and Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne by Brian Staveley and because of that, both stories felt more comfortable to read for me. The rest is completely uncharted territory, most of them I never even heard about, and that's okay because, in my opinion, the purpose of this anthology is for you to find which author's work suited you most so you can try the main series you think you'll like.

I don't want you to think of me as being lazy here with my review, but I won't be doing a mini review on any of the stories here. Almost all of them are way too short and take just five to twenty minutes to complete and as such relating any of it will just spoil some aspect of the tale; it is better to just read them for yourself.

Like all anthology I've read, some of the stories are amazing, some are not; no single story can work for everyone after all. I'll list which ones were the most memorable and the least for me.

Most memorable:

The Broken Dead (Manifest Delusions) by Michael R. Fletcher

The Syldoon Sun (Bloodsounder’s Arc) by Jeff Salyards

The Darkness within the Light (The Annwyn Cycles) by Shawn Speakman

The Greater of Two Evils (Chronicles of the Exile) by Marc Turner

Better Than Breath (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne) by Brian Staveley

Least memorable:

The Divine Death of Jirella Martigore (Crimson Empire) by Alex Marshall

A Royal Gift (Banners of Blood) by Mark Alder

A Storm Unbound (Glyph War World) - E.V. Morrigan

Outside of the ones I listed above, the rest are either decent or great in quality. One minor con I had with the overall book is that from my perspective, almost all the POV featured a wholly evil character with virtually no redeeming factor. However, that may be just me, as the title said, it's a matter of perspective, and it doesn't change the fact that the majority of the stories here are enjoyable, some even poignant.

It wouldn't be fair for me to rate this book based on the cumulative score of each short story, it's better for me to rate it by the whole package. The most important thing you should be aware of you're reading this book is not to expect epic tales —most of the stories are too short to get that kind of experience— but to potentially discover new authors who have been producing quality at work in the genre.  At least that's how it was for me.  For example, I've never heard about Chronicles of the Exile, but after this, I'm interested in its tale and will probably read it in the future.

Overall, this is one of the greatest anthologies I've read after Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson. If you're a fan of grimdark fantasy, you should get this; it's pretty much a literary treasure hunt.

Last modified on Monday, 28 August 2017 12:30
Petrik

Petrik has been a gamer and reader since he was 5 years old. Not once did he thought back then that these two passion of his will last a lifetime, turns out they will. His favorite genres are Adult Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Grimdark and Sci-Fi.

3 comments

  • Petrik Petrik commented on Aug 29, 2017 Comment Link

    Thanks Swiffer. I agree with you, the opening essays, while short, were easily the highlights of the entire book. Bakker's essay on Grimdark was amazing to read and spot on. I read it like one or two novellas per day, it was hard to wipe the palette clean; I think all anthology faced this situation. Can't be helped, but the good thing is, we both found something new to read out of this anthology :)

  • Petrik Petrik commented on Aug 29, 2017 Comment Link

    Thanks Swiffer. I agree with you, the opening essays, while short, were easily the highlights of the entire book. Bakker's essay on Grimdark was amazing to read and spot on. I read it like one or two novellas per day, it was hard to wipe the palette clean; I think all anthology faced this situation. Can't be helped, but the good thing is, we both found something new to read out of this anthology :)

  • Swiffer Swiffer commented on Aug 28, 2017 Comment Link

    I agree with most of your assessment, though I'd rate this book closer to 4.5/5 or even a 5/5. The opening essays were both great, and Bakker's essay was one of the highlights of the entire book. Outside of a couple of familiar names, the majority of authors were new to me and I've flagged a few series TBR. It was a bit of a challenge to try and wipe the palette clean between each entry, especially when the material can be so intense and dire, but the overall reading experience was exciting and rewarding.

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