The First Heroes: New Tales of the Bronze Age
This collection of fourteen Bronze Age-related stories is certainly eclectic, ranging from time-traveling people to time-traveling places to mythological characters and more. The stories also range from easy and fun to read to tedious and painful. For example, Brenda Clough’s “How the Bells Came from Yang to Hubei” portrays a strong sense of ancient Asian warfare and the value of the arts. However, while the story is a lovely portrayal of Asian history, it lacks an interesting storyline. S. M. Stirling’s “Blood Wolf” is well written and blends historical information from several eras, from the late Bronze Age up through modern times. However, the reader has to be sure to read the entire introduction or the story makes little sense. Noreen Doyle’s “Ankhtifi the Brave is Dying” is a challenging story about the recollections of an Egyptian hero. Harry Turtledove’s “The Horse of Bronze” is a fine example of this author’s excellent fantasy writing. The mythological characters and Bronze Age setting, and attention to the details of each, make this a fun and intense story.
The collection is a fascinating look at how various popular authors can be challenged to successfully or unsuccessfully write for a specific project. The authors certainly showed imagination in attempting to write for this collection. However, as a whole, the book is very hard to read. Unless someone happens to love every author in this book, it isn’t worth the effort for the few decent stories.