The Solaris Book of New Fantasy edited by George MannReins of Destiny
by Janny Wurts

The second story in The Solaris Book of New Fantasy, Reins of Destiny, is an offering by Janny Wurts, a well known and prolific Fantasy author. Despite the fact that’s she’s written/co-written over a dozen novels, this short story was the first chance that I had to actually read any of her work. I’m sorry to say, however, that it will probably also be the last.

Beneath the impenetrable dialogue and obtuse, needlessly complex prose any sense of good storytelling is completely lost, which is a shame because what story is there seems somewhat interesting. A more-clever-than-he-looks stableman and a desperate clansman (Wurts’ version of a noble… I think) make an interesting combination and Wurts does well by contrasting the personalities of the two protagonists.

I will admit that, despite the semi-interesting characters/story, I had trouble even finishing the short story and can’t even begin to imagine struggling through an entire novel filled with Wurts’ difficult to read prose. Perhaps on a larger scale, her style of storytelling and sentence construction works more ably, but in the context of a short story it’s a major detriment.

One of the reasons I enjoy short story anthologies so much is that it gives me a terrific opportunity to discover new authors. Unfortunately, in this case, the only thing I discovered was that I’m not a fan – in any way, shape or form – of Janny Wurts. A letdown after the strong, opening in the anthology (Mark Chadbourn’s Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast), I certainly hope that this is the weakest of the stories featured in the collection.

  • Andy Jefferson November 15, 2007 at 8:10 am

    You’re quite right about janny Wurts. I have read the master of whitestorm and it was terrrible.
    Before the internet and blogs like yours it was a hit and miss business buying fantasy books.
    The worst (in a large category) must be the stone and the flute by Hans Bemman and A bell. Shear torture!
    On a more positive note I have heard about and tried Greg Keyes and Joe Abercrombie after your recommendations and have been really pleased.
    Keep up the good work.
    Don’t forget though, it’s all just opinion. :-)

  • aidan November 15, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    Ahh, it doesn’t surprise me to hear that her novels aren’t worth reading. After taking a look at her short story, I’ll save myself the trouble and not go after her other works.

    I’m glad that I could turn you towards Greg Keyes and Joe Abercrombie! They’re two of my favourite authors and I should soon be getting my hands on early copies of their upcoming novels, so be sure to keep an eye out for that!

  • Warren November 16, 2007 at 3:09 am

    I am currently re-reading her alliance of light series, and I love it, I agree that her prose can itially be off putting however the reward for sticking with is paid in full. The trials of Arithon and Lysaer (main characters in the wars of light and shadows series) is some of the best epic fantasy out there (IMHO of course), keep up the good work Aiden, love the blog

  • aidan November 16, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    Ahh, it’s always nice to see other opinions out there. What areas would you say Wurts excels in, Warren?

    Thanks for the kind words about the blog, also!

  • Roisin April 4, 2008 at 7:40 am

    I absolutely have to disagree with any opinion that slates Janny’s fine writing and huge grasp of the English language. She challenges the reader to reach her vision, and in her exact choice of words are keys to deeper understanding of plot, character and principle. Too many authors these days have taken their craft to new lows, sacrificing nuance for TV-Sitcom style plots and simplistic third-grade language. Thank goodness for Janny.

  • aidan April 4, 2008 at 7:59 am


    There’s obviously other readers such as yourself out there, otherwise Wurts wouldn’t sell as well as she doesn.

    I’m not one of them, for the reasons stated above. One of the reasons I first got into blogging, though, was because of the vast opinion out there. I’m glad you dropped by with your thoughts and I’m always envious when someone can enjoy and author that I detest.

    Thanks for dropping by, hopefully I haven’t offended you enough to drive you off!


  • Nick July 31, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Wurts is amazing in her meticulous plotting and carefully considered reveals. I’ve not read this particularly short story and wasn’t a huge fan of her previous short effort (Child of Prophecy) but her Wars of Light and Shadow sequence (of which the two shorts are but a brief glimpse) is one of the high marks of the genre.

    I don’t think I’ve ever engaged in a setting so well-realised. I’m a massive Malazan fan (obsessed some might say) and have nothing but admiration for Bakker’s efforts in crafting Earwa, but neither setting compares to Wurts’ Athera. In fact, perhaps the closest comparison I could draw would be Tolkien (whose work I generally deplore. Go figure).