Dangerous Women 1 by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The first subdivision of the Dangerous Women anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois is a mix bag of both story quality and the interpretation of the phrase ‘dangerous women’. In seven stories across genres around the central theme of women who are dangerous, a reader is treated to see women in various ways only but is also forced to figure out if the women presented or alluded to are actually dangerous.
Of the seven stories featured in Dangerous Women 1 the three best at presenting both a very good story and dangerous women were Carrie Vaugh’s “Raisa Stepanova”, Megan Abbott’s “My Heart Is Either Broken”, and George R.R. Martin’s “The Princess and the Queen”. Just outside these three was Cecelia Holland’s “Nora’s Song” which had a very good story but was seen from the perspective of a little girl finding out how dangerous her mother is. These four stories were at the very beginning and the last three stories of the collection giving the anthology a strong start and finish.
However, the three stories in the middle suffered from a failure of either not being very good or not having a dangerous woman. Both Megan Lindholm’s “Neighbors” and Joe R. Lansdale’s “Wrestling Jesus” were very good stories, but the danger posed by the women either featured or more mentioned then seen was hard to detect. But the weakest story of the entire collection was Lawrence Block’s “I Know How to Pick’em” which went from having potential to falling flat by the end.
Overall Dangerous Women 1 is a mixed bag of very good stories with strong female characters, just very good stories with no danger attached to any female character, and just plain bad all around. The best that could be said is in the end the reader is the ultimate judge.
Individual Story Ratings
Raisa Stepanova by Carrie Vaughn (4/5)
I Know How to Pick’em by Lawrence Block (1/5)
Neighbors by Megan Lindholm (2.5/5)
Wrestling Jesus by Joe R. Lansdale (2/5)
My Heart Is Either Broken by Megan Abbott (4/5)
Nora’s Song by Cecelia Holland (3.5/5)
The Princess and the Queen by George R.R. Martin (4/5)
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Monday, February 6, 2017
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The Targaryen civil war known as ‘The Dance of the Dragons’ was mythologized in Westeros by bards for almost two hundred years before the events of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. “The Princess and the Queen” offers the history of first great Targaryen civil war through the death of one of the titular characters, but unlike other Targaryen civil wars or rebellions that threatened the dynasty this one features dragons on both sides.
The titular characters were Rhaenyra Targaryen, eldest child of King Viserys I, and Viserys’ second wife Queen Alicent Hightower, mother of Viserys’ eldest son Aegon. These two dangerous women were rivals for one thing, the succession to the Iron Throne. Through oaths and proclamations Viserys had designated Rhaenyra as his heir but Alicent championed the right of her son Aegon to succeed as was Westerosi custom of sons over daughters. For years this feud was building up as Viserys grew older and everyone awaited his death with unease as it felt like a battle for the Iron Throne was sure to follow, a battle that would pit Targaryen dragons against one another.
Written as a history by an archmaester of the Citadel, Martin gives an account of ‘the Dance’ noting first the political intrigue by Queen Alicent and her father to crown her son as Aegon II, then the war of letters and ravens to gather support by the two claimants from all the great lords of the realm before inevitably blood was shed then gushed from almost every corner of the realm. Yet, while some of the narrative reads like a dry history some others describe the action of battles in such a way as to make your imagination view two or more dragons battling one another over sea and land, fighting to the death.
Although the military actions in “The Princess and the Queen” are dominated for the most part by men, it’s the decisions by Rhaenyra and to a lesser extent by Alicent throughout the conflict that make this civil war unlike any other in Westerosi history. Yet, the biggest result of this civil war wasn’t which line of succession won out but that at the end the Targaryen’s greatest claim to the Iron Throne was lost, the dragons. This factor alone has repercussions down to the time of the events of A Song of Ice and Fire in which dragons return to the world.
“The Princess and the Queen” is not like other ASOIAF related short stories, like Dunk & Egg, this is a vivid retelling of history of events that surprisingly do connect with George R.R. Martin’s main series as well as the novellas of Dunk & Egg. As a fan not only of ASOIAF material, but also an avid reader of history I really enjoyed this piece by Martin, even though it is actually much less than he originally wrote of the events of this time. But because of the heavy lean towards male characters in a collection focused on dangerous women, there is some downside.
Sunday, February 5, 2017
My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Young Eleanor, or Nora to her large family, is enjoying being a little noble born girl exploring little creeks and grass with her little sister Joanna when her big brother Richard founds her so they can greet their mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. But this day starts the process of how Nora views her family, from how her parents treat one another and how they scheme behind each other's backs and how they treat her siblings then her. For those how know history, the dangerous woman in this story is well known yet seeing from the pov of a child it's well down.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A husband and father slowly begins looking at his wife's behavior differently than he had previously in their relationship after their daughter goes missing. As newspaper reporters and the police officers begin questioning his wife's story, only ever so slightly does he begin to think she's responsible. Then suddenly one night she remembers details that had slipped her mind and soon they are reunited with their baby daughter. But one night he walks into his daughter's room to find his wife looking at her with an expression that makes him very worried. This is a great story with several twists at the end as to whom is the dangerous woman in this story.
Friday, February 3, 2017
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Marvin gets beatin' up by some neighborhood bullies and is saved by an old man, after doing some working out during the summer he confronts them again only to get beatin' up again. Once again the old man saves him and decides to have Marvin for someone to work out again. Over the course of time the old man becomes like a father to Marvin and it's to the old man that he turns when Marvin's mother choices her boyfriend over her son. Throughout the story the old man gives information to Marvin about an upcoming wrestling match he has with an old rival, Jesus, and the reason two old men are fighting. A woman, a seductress, and possibly one with mystical powers. The story is great, but the 'dangerous woman' only appears at the end and sits to watch the match with only one line.
My rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Sarah Wilkins sees her now crazy neighbor Linda Mason walking out in the middle of the night in her slippers talking about going away and asking Sarah to go with her. After refusing Sarah never sees Linda again and begins thinking about how much their neighborhood had changed while battling her son about her living situation. Soon Sarah starts noticing how different the neighborhood is in the fog and who appears out on the street in the night. Sarah begins battling her children about her own future and decides to head out into the fog to find her own path and surprising Linda. A good story, yet the 'dangerous' of Sarah is questionable.
Thursday, February 2, 2017
My rating: 1 out of 5 stars
This story was a tease from beginning to end and frankly, it does not have a dangerous woman. Although Lawrence Block could argue semantics, I would respectfully disagree. The narrator is a man, the "dangerous woman" turns out to be nothing of the sort.