Immortal Unicorn is one of those anthologies that is very hard to separate volume one from volume two. The stories were clearly assembled at the same time, and they simply had too many to fit them all into a single physical book. In the days of reprinted omnibi, that may change, but for the time being we have two separate books.
The quality remains as high as ever, of course, and we have an additional story each from Janet Berliner and Peter S. Beagle. Really, what more can I say? My favorites from this volume include “Survivor”, “Sea Dreams”, and “A Thief in the Night”.
I suppose we could talk a bit about theme. Obviously all the stories involve unicorns, but they do so in the sense of immortality, rather than being limited to a horselike or rhinocerouslike being with a single horn. Each author explores the subject differently, each brings a completely new facet to the unicorn mythology, allows it to become even deeper. I don’t want to say too much about specifics because, really, I think that these stories are too good not to read. And sadly, there’s not a lot you can do, talking about a short story without spoiling it.
I did glance through my wonderful anthology catalogue, and I have multiple entries for a surprising number of these authors. Most of those, however, are only in other anthologies. It seems a shame that I have so few novels by these skilled people – maybe next time I need something new to read I’ll think of them.
Anyway, after finishing the anthology, I decided to reread “Moonglow” by Catherine Asaro, a novella from Charmed Destinies (which also includes Rachel Lee and, of course, Mercedes Lackey). It’s a story about misfits finding their places in the world and is a prequel (I think) to her book The Charmed Sphere. I am half tempted to find a copy and read it, but on the other hand, I’m less interested in the characters who star in the book as opposed to the novella. So for the time being, I have only the one story of shape mages.
In Asaro’s world, mages focus their power through shapes to cast spells in colors. The more rounded the shape, the more power it can focus. The further down the ROYGBIV path, the more strength is required to cast. Shapes are also divided into 2D and 3D, so a disc is the highest of the 2D shapes, but is less powerful in some ways than a cube. Spheres are then the ultimate peak of power.
The colors are of interest as well. As the story described it:
“red spells created light, orange soothed physical pain, yellow eased sorrow, green revealed the emotions of others, blue healed physical injuries and indigo healed emotional injuries.”
Combine that with green mages being rare, blue unheard of, and indigo legendary, for reference. To preserve the kingdom from its enemies, the Kings marry the most powerful shape mage of the generation. There’s also legends about the royal family housing powerful mages, but there is little proof. And yes, it may sound sexist, but 90% of mages in this world are female. No explanation provided in this novella, though it would be nice if there was some hint in the full book.
I didn’t bother rereading the other two stories in Charmed Destinies today because I didn’t need to feel that much time, and I really didn’t feel like it. Lackey’s story is well-written, as always, and looks into the old-fashioned custom of the glove wedding, where a groom sends a glove to be his stand-in at the ceremony and then is returned to him along with his new bride. Rachel Lee’s is, well, just not very interesting, and if I read only two tales out of this book, hers is never one of them.
All three are love stories, and this book was part of the 2003 campaign to launch the Luna imprint, which does specialize in romantic fantasy, among other things. (Charmed Destinies is under Silhouette Books, and Luna launched in 2004.) I even own a number of Luna books. I tend not to notice publishers too much though, because there are so very many different imprints, and I can never keep straight which owns which. Really, the only ones I can list at the drop of a hat are Tor, DAW, and Baen. Which probably tells you a fair bit about my preferred genres, if you haven’t already figured it out.
Anyway, the last quarter of an anthology and a single novella weren’t quite enough for one day, so I added a graphic novel to the lot. This was Green Lantern: Secret Origin, which I got for free at the local comic convention. My local library had a table and they were offering free books that had been removed from circulation. I thought I’d read this one before and enjoyed it, so I had no objections to free and library binding.
I did remember correctly – this is a retelling of Hal Jordan’s origin as the Green Lantern, and also begins to set up Blackest Night. Blackest Night, mind you, not the Sinestro Corps. Interesting choices they made, considering that the one has to happen before the other. It’s a solid origin story, and certainly does a better job than the movie – though I still enjoy the adaptation.
I think, after this slew of older material, that I’m ready to read something new next. The Pile offers me a number of options of course, but I have yet to make a final decision. I may not even choose something tonight, leaving it until I need something to read while eating breakfast tomorrow.