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This book includes an original story from the Enchanted Forest as well as 9 other short stories from every stage of Wredes writing career, most of them previously published. The stories represent an entertaining mixture of styles, and the authors note gives an intriguing explanation about how each was written. Lovers of fantasy and fairy tale, as well as aspiring young writers, really must read this book.
The first story is Rikiki and the Wizard, written for an anthology by various authors about a world called Liavek. It takes an irreverent, silly poke at stories about parents who try to get their daughters married off. In this story, the luckiest wizard in the world meets his undoing in a god who happens to be a blue chipmunk.
The Princess, the Cat, and the Unicorn is a slightly cracked fairy tale in which the unicorn is so full of its own beauty that the princess cant stand it, and in which the only people who end up unhappy are those who take fairy tale conventions seriously.
Roses by Moonlight is a take-off on the famous “Parable of the Prodigal Son.” One twist is that the sons in this tale are daughters. Another twist comes when a mysterious woman offers young Adrian a choice of dreams-come-true.
The Sixty-two Curses of Caliph Arenschadd is an unusual combination of a werewolf story with an imitation “Tale from the Arabian Nights.” It is funny, scary, and wistful all at the same time.
Earthwitch is a somewhat purple, romantic story about a king who risks a terrible sacrifice to save his people from a ruthless enemy. Only both the destruction of the enemy and the resulting sacrifice take alarmingly unexpected forms.
The Sword-Seller was Wredes contribution to a Tales from the Witch Worldanthology. Here an honorable mercenary refuses to accept the gift of a strange, old sword from a strange, old sword-seller; this refusal has unexpected results when the mercenary gets caught up in a strange, old conflict between good and evil.
The Lorelei explains how a witch, whose singing used to lure boats to their doom along a rocky stretch of the Rhine, gets her jollies with a busload of rambunctious, American high-school students.
Stronger Than Time is a heartbreaking story that poses the question: what if the prince didnt come to rescue the Sleeping Beauty?
Cruel Sisters explores the tragedy of a well-known folk song about one sister who killed another for the love of a man, through the point of view of the little-known third sister. It also leaves you wondering…did the murder really happen?
Utensile Strength revisits our old friends, Queen Cimorene and King Mendanbar of the Enchanted Forest. How do they find the warrior who is fit to wield the, er, Frying Pan of Doom? Why, by holding a bake-off, of course!
An added bonus is the winning recipe for Quick After-Battle Triple Chocolate Cake, helpfully transcribed from the original Barbarian, with added directions for using modern baking gear.