I don't generally review books I appear in; there's too much risk of a self-serving impression. It's hard to extract self-promotion from impartiality. I'm making an exception in this case, though, because I think the anthology is so strong.
Shards is part of what editor C.J. Brightley calls "noblebright" fantasy, which he describes as "hope in the darkest moments" and characters who are "kind, honest, and principled". It sounds more ponderous than it is in practice, but whatever the intent, the result is impressive.
Almost any anthology is a bit of a grab bag, simply because the editor's taste won't match the readers'. In Shards, however, Brightley has done a great job of picking stories - at least, ones that match my tastes. Not every story is a winner, but definitely more are than in the average collection. Philosophy aside, they're simply well written.
My favorite stories:
- Bright Carver - Pete Alex Harris. Examining one of the intriguing aspects of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast.
- The Lasting Hills - Stephen Case. The mysterious realm of dragons at the base of the World Tree.
- Pale Reflections - Giovani Bondoni. An alternate world watching us from the other side of the ghost pools.
- Heart of Stone - Alex McGilvery. A story from the trolls' side of things.