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Silverberg, Robert, ed. Legends: short novels by the masters of modern fantasy.

Tor. 718p. illus. c1998. 0-765-30035-4. $15.95. SA

These 11 stories, all new, by well-known authors, take place in well-established fantasy worlds. If the reader is not perfectly familiar with those worlds, it doesn't matter, really, because Silverberg introduces them so well. In addition to the six-page introduction that gives us a little background on fantasy in general, he makes us familiar with each story's world. In a page or two of masterful narration he starts us on the journeys knowing as much about our surroundings as the hero or heroine does. The stories themselves range from light fantasy to ultimate horror. Terry Pratchett is a master of the former. His story, "The Sea and Little Fishes," involves witches familiar to readers of his Discworld stories, and is laugh-out-loud funny. The rivalry between Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg takes a hilarious turn when Granny Weatherwax decides that she's tired of being mean. Why can't she read to children, or visit the sick? We must accept the fact that there are reasons why everyone is much better off if she doesn't.

Stephen King is a master of horror, of course. His story, "The Little Sisters of Eluria," is truly nightmare inducing. It is, unfortunately, the first story in the book, and might be enough to keep a slightly squeamish reader from turning the page to begin the second story. Which would be too bad, because the other stories are without exception readable and enjoyable. Unfortunately, they're also long--novellas, really, not short stories. It might have been easier on younger readers to have two, or even three, volumes. But fans of the individual authors won't care, and fans of the fantasy genre will be enchanted, just as they were meant to be. Judith H. Silverman, Chevy Chase, MD
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Author:Silverman, Judith H.
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2002
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