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Bibliophile price: £3.50
Two of the most enduring and resonant archetypes in fantasy are warriors and wizards, traced back to ancient heroes such as Beowulf and Gilgamesh, Steppe horsemen and Samurai to Aragorn and Conan. Perhaps it's a facet of human nature to admire strength and steadfastness. The wizard seems to represent an opposite - not brawn but brains and knowledge manifested as corporeal power and often, but not always, wisdom. Shamans, elders and early thinkers, inventors and alchemists, here are figures of myth such as Daedalus to Merlin and Gandalf. Ancient epics from India, China, Mongolia to the sagas of the Mayans, Norse, Finns and Arabia, the current fantasy short-fiction movement pays tribute. The format provides a compact and intensified space to explore, deconstruct or subvert. Yoon Ha Lee's surgeon must cut free legendary warriors trapped in the paper of manuscripts to defend his conquered moon. Mary Robinett Kowal's shaman whose magical powers manifests from having his wife strangle him near to death; Saladin Ahmed's duo of grumpy old ghost-hunter and earnest young swordsman compares with Richard Parks's duo of world-weary insightful samurai and a reprobate priest. All 25 stories present varied cultures, nuanced characters and tell a great tale. Includes writing from Elizabeth Bear, Jay Lake, Tanith Lee, Carrie Vaughn and others. 515pp in paperback.

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