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?
©2013 Shawn Speakman (P)2013 Audible Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Euan on 14-05-14

It's basically Russian roulette

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

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.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

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.

Do you think Unfettered needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

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

Any additional comments?

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.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Eva O'Donnell on 24-09-16

The good bits aren't good enough to carry it.

Any additional comments?

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.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By GLENNO on 31-01-14

Excellent writing. Great cause.

This book is well worth reading for the quality of the writing. The bonus is that it's for a great cause. Hooray for you wonderful writers, artists and readers! And man are there some amazing readers in this audiobook. It's always great to help a brother out.

Several of these stories are so good that I have placed the author's books on my wish list. So it's a great introduction to these authors if you are not already a fan. If you are a fan, you won't be disappointed with these great tales, some set in the worlds you already know. All of them are well-written.

Rothfuss: Haven't read his books. Maybe something about that would have made it better. Otherwise: What the...?
Salvatore: Um, OK. Weird.
Orullian: If you were a band geek you might like this one. I wasn't a band geek. I got lost in all of the musical references.
Grossman: Sophomoric.

Brooks (Shannara)
Jordan/Sanderson: Love the Wheel of Time books but it's been a while for me. Maybe that's why I didn't connect with it.

Brooks (Word/Void): A charming tale.
Vaughn: Interesting premise well carried-out.

Lockwood: A great story that is far better than his first novel.
Durham: Really imaginative! And just a really nice story.
Bosworth: Intriguing story with an electric ending.
Williams: I smiled all the way through this great one.
Thompson: I really enjoyed the characters in this one and want to read the novels.
Novik: I tire of dragons sometimes but this story rekindled my interest. I put her novels on my wish list.
Sullivan: My favorite story by one of my very favorite authors. If you are unfamiliar with Michael J. Sullivan go buy his books. All of them. NOW. You won't be disappointed.
Speakman: Great characters in a compelling world. Made me want to read more.

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31 of 33 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Stephanie on 16-04-14

Mixed feelings

I wanted to love this compilation of short stories. It was written for a pure, altruistic purpose. The contributors included some of my favorite authors, and many more about whom I had been curious for some time. Some of the stories were engaging, but many were not. Many were downright sad and left me not knowing how to feel, what to think, or what the author was even trying to convey with his or her words.

The compilation receives three stars because of those gems hidden inside. I enjoyed Rothfuss' quirky tale. A couple more - one about a viola, another about saving a library from war (I don't recall the authors) - were interesting despite the deep sadness in the tale.

I took away two stars because of the lack of consistency. Maybe I was expecting too much. Maybe it was unfair to expect to be entertained by every story in such an eclectic compilation. But I wasn't expecting entertainment, so much as I was hoping to be inspired, to have my curiosity piqued, or to just hear stories that I could appreciate (at the very least) for their literary value, if not for the tale itself.

I understand the sadness that permeates many (most?) of these short stories. It was moving at times - leaving me shaken and changed - but I also found myself often pausing the book and stepping away because it was just too much.

The narrators are fantastic. They were well-selected for each story and each performs beautifully. I think only one story stood out as "less-well-narrated" - but it was near the end and not significant enough to recall specifically. With so many stories, and so many narrators, that is a job well done in my eyes.

This book is certainly worth the one credit. I'd buy it again, and I'm tempted to buy the hard copy, if only for those special stories tucked amid the less-inspiring.

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30 of 32 people found this review helpful

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