Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Book Review: One Horn to Rule Them All [Anthology]

The purple unicorn anthology One Horn to Rule Them All started out as a teaching tool. I had the good fortune to get to see a Dragon Con panel featuring Kevin J. Anderson and his wife, Rebecca Moesta. One of the things they teach is that every piece of work could be the first piece of work someone ever reads from you, so always do your best work. The advice goes like this: "If someone asks you for a purple unicorn story, you better write the best purple unicorn story you can". This advice has been given by them hundreds of times over the past years and at one time, the editor for the anthology, Lisa Mangum, approached them saying she would curate the, at that point, mythical anthology. Then several big names, such as Jody Lynn Nye and Todd McCaffrey offered their talents in writing stories. Then to make it even more special, the anthology features the work of several of the graduates of the Superstars Writing program run by Anderson and Moesta. The proceeds from the sales of the book go to a scholarship for the writing program.

The anthology is pure magic. Every single story draws you in and gives you a small spin before letting you go. My personal favorite was "A Single Spark" by Mary Pletsch. It features a girl whose name, Sharareh, translates into 'a single spark', hence the name of the story. She is a young woman in a terrible situation. Her father sells her to foreigners to be unicorn bait and instead of getting a European unicorn, the white kind, they encounter the purple kind, a karkadann.

A karkadann is described as:
taller than the hunter's horses, taller even than John's black gelding, the beast was easily the size of a camel. Like a camel, its hooves were split in two, the better to carry it across the shifting desert sands. Its tongue descended to the surface of the pool from between two razor-sharp fangs that protruded over its lower lip. Its horn was a serrated scimitar, caked with dried blood. Its thick hide, like leather armor, glistened in the sunlight, glittering the resplendent purple of kingship. Sharareh beheld it and understood why the storytellers called it the lord of the desert.
Sharareh has a simple choice: wait there on her knees for death in the form of the purple unicorn to come to her or to stand up and face what is coming on her feet. It may have been a simple choice but it was most definitely not an easy one knowing what she knew about what was bearing down on her.

It's hard to pick a second favorite story, so many of them are wonderful, so I'm going to stick with the one that affected me the most. It's an anthology well worth the time and money to read. And remember the proceeds go to a good cause, the scholarship to the Writing Superstars conference.

You can buy a copy of the anthology HERE

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