Yesterday I asked what people thought about anthologies. The answers were rather split. Jessie H is a choosy anthology reader, while Shoshana K admitted to secretly loving them (it's okay, Shoshana K, you are among friends. We don't judge). AW Exley gave us a new angle to look at anthologies from; that of the author trying to be included. It sounds stressful and awful.
With that said, some anthologies can break the mold and be a great book despite the fact it's a patchwork quilt of stories. Rogues is one of those very special cases.
Rogues, edited by killer-of-all-you-hold-dear George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois, is another volume in a long standing collection. They have partnered together before on themed anthologies such as Dangerous Women, Warriors and Legends. I've only picked up one collection before this one, Legends II, because it had an American Gods side story from Neil Gaiman. Hilariously enough, Neil's involvement in Rogues also made me give it a second look.
Rogues is an anthology celebrating the fantasy favorite, the wily and clever rogue. We can't take our eyes off them when they're on the page and, personally, many of my favorite characters are rogues. It seemed a fitting theme to base an anthology on.
With any anthology, there are loads of names you know and many you don't. The biggest names are on the cover, with Gaiman and Martin joined by Scott Lynch, Connie Willis, Joe Abercrombie and Patrick Rothfuss. Digging deeper, there are stories by Garth Nix, Carrie Vaughn, Paul Cornell, Daniel Abraham (one half of writing duo James SA Covey) and Cherie Priest. Not a bad bunch! A few much lesser known authors round out the group and it's a very good and even mix of beloved favorites and shiny new potential ones.
I have to say that this anthology had many more excellent stories than duds. I didn't read the Martin short because I'm not a Game of Thrones person, but the other offerings were, by and large, pretty good! Garth Nix, Carrie Vaughn and Scott Lynch had especially wonderful stories. The main attraction, though, was Neil Gaiman's new short story set in the world of Neverwhere.
Since Neverwhere is probably my FAVORITE Gaiman story, I had to read How The Marquis Got His Coat Back first. Instantly, you're sucked right back into London Below as you follow the Marquis de Carabas as he hunts for his signature coat, lost in the events that occur in Neverwhere. It was a lush, intricate and fun story and reading about the Marquis again was like seeing a long lost friend. Exquisite. I know I'll read it two or three more times to really take it all in.
The verdict? For an anthology, Rogues delivers on it's promise to give us tales of rakes, swashbucklers, liars and thieves. There's something for everyone here, with grimdark and comic fantasy both represented. Not sure if you should give another anthology a try? Well, Gaiman's story is worth the price of admission on it's own. The other shorts are bonus awesome.