“Blood will flow, heads will roll, dragons will soar, and the dead shall rise. Journey to ancient cities ruled by sinister mages, storm-tossed seas where monsters dwell, mysterious towers full of ancient secrets, and dark dungeons with untold treasures. From Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian to George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, join the legendary heroes—and villains—of sword and sorcery in nineteen epic adventures that are sure to bring out the barbarian in you.
David G. Hartwell is one of the science fiction and fantasy genre’s most experienced editors. He has been a senior editor at Tor books since 1995, and his many anthologies include the Year’s Best SF and Year’s Best Fantasy series. He has received the Hugo and World Fantasy awards and administrates the Philip K. Dick Award.
Jacob Weisman is the World Fantasy Award-nominated editor and publisher of Tachyon Publications. His writing has appeared in The Nation, Realms of Fantasy, and the Seattle Weekly. He is the series editor for anthologies including The Secret History of Fantasy, Steampunk I and II, and The Treasury of the Fantastic.
Introduction: Storytellers: A Guided Ramble into Sword and Sorcery Fiction by David Drake.
The Tower of the Elephant by Robert E. Howard
For my first experience of Robert E. Howard’s words, despite seeing the Conan movies, this was a marvelous romp into a fantastic adventure. Each step Conan took his goal was set with perils more deadly than the previous. Despite being a thief, Conan’s compassion is revealed in an unexpected moment.
Black God’s Kiss by C. L. Moore
A sword wielding woman, Jiral of Joirey, is taken in combat, only to escape to seek a weapon in a tunnel beneath the dungeon. A creepy and compelling story to remind you to be careful what you ask for.
The Unholy Grail by Fritz Leiber
A wizard’s apprentice uses his magical lore to seek revenge.
The Tale of Hauk by Poul Anderson
An excellent norse tale of a father saddened by his son’s refusal to go pillaging is finally laid to rest.
The Caravan of Forgotten Dreams by Michael Moorcock
A well told tale of an anti-hero enlisting old acquaintances to fight an evil magician
The Adventuress by Joanna Russ
A pick pocket is hired by a spoiled teenage woman to assist in her escape of matrimony.
Gimmile’s Songs by Charles R. Saunders
Dossouye, an ex-soldier, with her war bull encounters mercenaries carrying an unusual mystic object.
Undertow by Karl Edward Wagner
Desslyn vows to escape the torments of a necromancer. There are several creepy minions combined with excellent swordplay.
The Stages of the God by Ramsey Campbell (writing as Montgomery Comfort)
Topops, forced from the city he ruled, locates an ancient shrine in the desert where he takes a stand against mercenaries.
The Barrow Troll by David Drake
Johann, a priest kidnapped from his bed, is manipulated to assist a wild northerner in taking a troll’s hoard.
Soldier of an Empire Unacquainted with Defeat by Glen Cook
A skilled swordsman and worker of elemental energy assists sheepherders against bullies. There are several well done episodes of magic, swordplay and inter-personal relationships.
Epistle from Lebanoi by Michael Shea
A Shakespearian foray into a swamp.
Become a Warrior by Jane Yolen
An excellent tale of survival by a resilient young girl; her father, the King, is cut down in battle.
The Red Guild by Rachel Pollack
An assassin is hired to subdue a dragon.
Six from Atlantis by Gene Wolfe
Thane enters the mysterious realm where stones change to gems, and beautiful women wield swords.
The Sea Troll’s Daughter by Caitlin R. Kiernan
Malmury is determined to collect the bounty for killing the sea troll.
The Coral Heart by Jeffrey Ford
An intriguing story of a man with a magical sword capable of turning victims into coral.
Path of the Dragon by George R. R. Martin
Daenerys Targaryen, Queen of Dragonstone, with her three dragons has sailed to Westeros to bargain for slaves.
The Year of the Three Monarchs by Michael Swanwick