You define life or it defines you. In Shawn Speakman’s case, it was both. Lacking health insurance and diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2011, Shawn quickly accrued a massive medical debt that he did not have the ability to pay. That’s when New York Times best-selling author Terry Brooks offered to donate a short story that Shawn could sell to help alleviate those bills—and suggested he ask the same of his other writer friends. Unfettered is the result: an anthology built in order to relieve that debt, featuring short stories by some of the best fantasy writers in the genre.
Twenty-three tales comprise this incredible collection, and as the title suggests, the writers were free to contribute whatever they wished. Here is the table of contents:
Foreword by Patrick Rothfuss
Introduction: On Becoming Unfettered
Imaginary Friends by Terry Brooks
How Old Holly Came to Be by Patrick Rothfuss
The Old Scale Game by Tad Williams
Game of Chance by Carrie Vaughn
The Martyr of the Roses by Jacqueline Carey
Mudboy by Peter V. Brett
The Sound of Broken Absolutes by Peter Orullian
The Coach with Big Teeth by R. A. Salvatore
Keeper of Memory by Todd Lockwood
Heaven in a Wild Flower by Blake Charlton
Dogs by Daniel Abraham
The Chapel Perilous by Kevin Hearne
Select Mode by Mark Lawrence
All the Girls Love Michael Stein by David Anthony Durham
Strange Rain by Jennifer Bosworth
Nocturne by Robert V. S. Redick
Unbowed by Eldon Thompson
In Favour with Their Stars by Naomi Novik
River of Souls by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
The Jester by Michael J. Sullivan
The Duel by Lev Grossman
Walker and the Shade of Allanon by Terry Brooks
The Unfettered Knight by Shawn Speakman
With the help of stalwart friends and these wonderful short stories, Shawn has taken the gravest of life’s hardships and created something magical. Unfettered is not only a fantastic anthology in its own right, but it’s a testament to the generosity found in the science fiction and fantasy community—proof that humanity can give beyond itself when the need arises. After all, isn’t that the driving narrative in fantasy literature?
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It's basically Russian roulette
Because they are all short stories, if you like fantasy you will enjoy at least one of them, most likely a few. However there are some absolute howlers in here. Quite a few are not even fantasy. Patrick Rothfuss's one was the single worst thing I have listened to on audible, and after terry brooks insulting ( to me as someone who went through childhood leukaemia ) opener I nearly gave up. However I persevered and am enjoying new authors I would no have if I had not listened to this.
Some were good. Most were awful. I assume because it was for charity they were not willing to spend a great deal of money on a good narrator or two, but the result is dreadful. It took me halfway through the mark Lawrence to realise it was his ,as the character is 13-15 from somewhere in a post apocalyptic Europe. but instead the narrator is simple reading the story with his 40 something full blown Brooklyn accent. That's just one example.
If all the authors put in some effort other than just a few and decent narrators were brought in then I would happily listen to a second volume
In you in two minds about it then get it. If you don't like a story in the first 5 mins then skip it there will be something on there you do like, and it is all for a good cause anyway.
The good bits aren't good enough to carry it.
I like Patrick Rothfuss in particular and fantasy in general and I thought this collection might introduce me to some new authors. Maybe I missed out on something but I couldn't finish the collection. Some of the stories sounded more like enthusiastic but unskilled fan-fic than the work of real authors. The tone of a few of the stories was confused, somewhere between self-aware, post-modern and traditional fantasy. The final straw was a terrible attempt at accents in "The Chapel Perilous" by Kevin Hearne. I gave up at that point, maybe all the good stuff happens in the second half.
- Eva O'Donnell