Unbound Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Not bound as a book. Free. Like Unfettered before it, the contributing writers of Unbound were allowed to submit the tales they wished fans of genre to hear - without the constraints of a shackling theme. The result is magical. Twenty-three all-original stories are sure to captivate you - some will move you to tears while others will keep you listening long into the night. The power of Unbound lies in its variety of tales and the voices behind them. If you are a fan of discovering new writers or hearing the works of beloved authors, Unbound is for you.
Return to Landover with Terry Brooks. Go to trial with Harry Dresden and Jim Butcher. Enter the Citadel, and become remade with Rachel Caine. Survive a plague with John Marco and his robot companion, Echo. Be painted among the stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. These tales and the others that comprise the anthology are bound only by how enchanting and enthralling they are.
Here is the lineup:
"Small Kindnesses" by Joe Abercrombie (Shev & Javre)
"An Unfortunate Influx of Filipians" by Terry Brooks (Landover)
"Mr. Island" by Kristen Britain
"Jury Duty" by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files)
"Madwalls "by Rachel Caine
"The Way into Oblivion" by Harry Connolly
"Uncharming" by Delilah Dawson
"All In a Night's Work" by David Anthony Durham
"Son of Crimea" by Jason M. Hough (Zero World)
"Dichotomy of Paradigms" by Mary Robinette Kowal
"A Good Name" by Mark Lawrence (Broken Empire)
"River and Echo" by John Marco
"Seven Tongues" by Tim Marquitz
"The Siege of Tilpur" by Brian McClellan (Powder Mage)
"Fiber" by Seanan McGuire
"Stories Are Gods" by Peter Orullian (Vault of Heaven)
"Heart's Desire" by Kat Richardson
"The Hall of the Diamond Queen" by Anthony Ryan (Raven's Shadow)
"The Dead's Revenant" by Shawn Speakman (Annwn Cycle)
"The Farmboy Prince" by Brian Staveley
"The Game" by Michael J. Sullivan
"The Ethical Heresy" by Sam Sykes
"The Rat" by Mazarkis Williams
Unbound is filled with spectacularly wonderful stories, each one as diverse as its creator. You will be changed upon finishing it. And that is the point.
Full list of narrators includes Peter Ganim, James Patrick Cronin, and Dina Pearlman.
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|Listening Length||20 hours and 55 minutes|
|Narrator||Dick Hill, Tim Gerard Reynolds, Nick Podehl, Allyson Johnson, Christian Rodska, Emily Bauer|
|Audible.com Release Date||June 21, 2016|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #99,305 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#185 in Fantasy Anthologies & Short Stories (Audible Books & Originals)
#269 in Science Fiction Anthologies & Short Stories
#882 in Fantasy Anthologies
Top reviews from the United States
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Two of the stories were unappealing to me, so the entire book's average was lowered. However, there are many more great stories to cause the book to warrant the higher rating of 4 stars.
Samarjit (Sammy) Cole is 16 and about to learn some of what being a watcher entails. Her father, Chatar Singh is the watcher for that region now. He brings her to a place called "The Citadel" (not to be confused with the college of the same name). It is here that she meets a man who is held captive with only walls and the chalk with which he scribbles nonstop. What follows is a sort of weird romance.
Stories Are Gods
Confusing in parts, but still good. Anna awakens after 8 years in a coma. She has been catatonic ever since her rescue from slavers. Her husband, Lour has been by her side waiting for this day. He is an albino who suffers from brittle-bone disease. Needless to say he is both mocked and shunned by the populace. Alas his happiness is short-lived as Anna falls back into a coma after only a few short minutes. Lour is visited by a being called a Velle. It is the reason Anna woke up for those few minutes. Lour is a philosopher who, despite his physical difficulties, is still an accomplished orator. The Velle want Lour to argue a point for them. In return Lour will have Anna back. It is an argument he would have made anyway, but why does the Velle want it made?
River and Echo
River is a nine year old who is the only survivor after everyone else in his village has died from a plague. His only companion is a humanton named Echo. Together they man the gates of the village using humantons they have scavenged in order to make it appear there is an army protecting the village. Day after day they survive together.
A Dichotomy of Paradigms
Mary Robinette Kowal
Patrick is a painter who has been hired by Captain Dauntless to paint her. Patrick's specialty is painting a subject while they are moving. Captain Dauntless is a pirate and she hopes his painting will instill fear. The best part of the story to me was when they encounter his old art instructor, Lila Kirkland.
Son of Crimea
Jason M. Hough
In 1835 John Crimson of Scotland Yard is on his way back to London when he comes upon a woman, Malena Penar stranded on the road by her brother. John takes her to London and during the trip becomes enthralled by her. After a week of seeing Malena his boss at Scotland Yard, Henry Goddard invites them both to join him and him wife Annette for dinner. The talk during dinner quickly moves to Henry's upcoming trip to India to meet with W.H. Sleeman who has made a name for himself fighting a group of Indian criminals known as the Thuggees. It read like a mystery novel until the last few pages, and then it "lost the plot" as the Brits say.
An Unfortunate Influx of Filipians
I haven't read the series "The Magic Kingdom of Landover" which these characters are from. Indeed I didn't even know about it until reading the short story. Ben Holiday is the king of Landover. All he wanted was to sleep in, but some gnomes had other ideas. Filip and Sot are "G’Home Gnomes". This type of gnome is loathed throughout the land for various reasons. As I said I haven't read the series to know if the other types of gnome are like this, but these two are not the sharpest. It would seem that Filip has had his pet stolen. From Ben's wife Willow we learn that it was in fact NOT his pet, but rather Shoopdiesel's. He is another G’Home Gnomes. He is mute, but can communicate with Willow through sign. What follows is a delightful mess.
The Way into Oblivion
Interesting start, then it sucked. Alinder with her children, Shoaw and Shawa, are on a journey with a troop of soldiers when they come upon an outpost where all have been killed, the bodies mutilated. At first they believe it to be the work of an enemy force. Instead they soon see the creatures responsible and Alinder sends her children fleeing. The use of English words with no regard for their actual meaning was distracting.
Delilah S. Dawson
I am reading this anthology again and instead of just a numerical rating and a singled sentence I am trying to give a short synopsis so I can remember what the story was about. This one I recall having enough revulsion that after a few pages I knew I didn't wish to subject myself to it again, so the synopsis is incomplete. Monsieur Charmant is a horrible person who takes pleasure in the suffering of others. When a woman walks in to his shop to sell him her tail he becomes obsessed with her.
A Good Name
Three days earlier Firestone had finished his trial and received his "true name" of Harrac. Upon returning to his village he takes umbrage at still being treated as a child. After fighting with one of the men there he is ordered by his father to go see the king. At the gates to the palace he meets a Viking who befriends him. I enjoyed the story, but wanted a different ending.
All in a Night's Work
David Anthony Durham
Ash is the prince's bodyguard and double, his "shadow". Since the prince is away Ash believes it will be a peaceful time. Just pretend to be the prince and do everything he would have been doing. A nice bath and then sleeping in the prince's bed was quite nice-until someone tried to kill him! Being quick on his feet enables him to thwart the attack, but now he has to find the one who is ultimately responsible, an evil magician he got a quick look of. With the help of a beetle named Babbel he will hunt the magician to the ends of Egypt if necessary. The author's story in the first Unfettered book was my favorite in that anthology. This one is also enjoyable.
Gryl, a former slave, has tracked a caravan led by Althun Rathe. He is an evil slaver who preys upon children. Gryl earned his freedom by being very good at what he does. Rathe really shouldn't have used children. Now he will learn just how good Gryl was.
A group of cheerleaders are driving back from an away game when one has to use the restroom quite badly. It seems she has taken a liking to yogurt, the kind with extra FIBER. The cheerleaders are an interesting bunch. One is a FORMER zombie. She is still getting used to being alive again. The one with the yogurt has the ability to make people do anything she says-something that she is trying her best not to use. When a sign for a gas station with facilities appears her need for a toilet is greater than her not wanting to abuse her power, so the girls stop at a very questionable store. For something that sounds so sophomoric it was actually highly entertaining and funny.
The Hall of the Diamond Queen
A queen is overseeing a battle. The king leading the opposing army looks familiar, but she doesn't know why. The king appears to know her as well. Unfortunately he is dead by the third page. There is a lot of savagery. I believe the queen is insane. I rated the story 4 stars upon the first reading, however this time I cannot say it warrants that. It is supposed to be a thirty minute read, but it has been two days and I haven't finished it because it is not holding my interest. I remember liking a character that appears towards the end. It should not be a struggle to get to that point.
The Farmboy Prince
Since I rated it so low to first time and the first few pages didn't draw me in on this reading I cannot give a synopsis.
Maybe it is because the story is located so near to it, but it is reminding me of “The Diamond Queen”. Different authors though. This time a female is using her powers to enthrall animals, even those who are dead, to do her will. She wants a man to come to her and the animals are making sure that happens.
Michael J. Sullivan
Jeri Blainey, a computer game designer finds one of her characters has become sentient. The story ends very jarringly. It is as if the author forgot they hadn't finished writing, but sent in the draft anyway.
The Ethical Heresy
The story begins with Dreadaeleon and Cesta standing by to remove the bodies of the heretics burned to death. Taken from their parents at a young age they are apprentices with Dreadaeleon being a year behind Cesta. Dreadaeleon is emotionally much younger than Cesta and spends his time mentally talking to himself instead of paying attention to their instructor, Lector Vemire. The two are students learning to control their magic, or Venarie as the story calls it. When the apprentices are tasked with searching for a heretic who has eluded capture Cesta makes it known that she believes Dreadaeleon is nothing more than a bumbling child which dashes Dreadaeleon’s hopes of ever being with her. Once they find the heretic, Lathrim, he gives them much to think about.
Shev, “The Best Thief in Westport” is retired and all she wants to do is run her little shop, but life is never simple. First there is the unconscious woman blocking her doorway. The woman has suffered a horrible beating. Together with her only employee, Severard they are able to drag the woman into Shev's office and onto a cot. Then an ex-girlfriend, Carcolf arrives and tries to cajole Shev into doing a job. No sooner was she able to get rid of Carcolf then the son of the local mob boss shows up. This time she doesn't have a choice. She must come out of retirement to do what he wants. The last quarter of the story is great. Meeting Javre is truly the best part.
The title doesn't really match and the story abruptly ends. Emil lives with his grandmother, Nana May. Emil's father, Alain has died and he is waiting for his great-grandfather to come. He was never met him since the man hated his grandson Alain because Alain was a wizard. The great-grandfather (the character wasn’t given a proper name!) had fought in a war against wizard’s years ago. While on the way the great-grandfather met up with Horace. We are not told what Horace did for the great-grandfather that would have made the man invite a perfect stranger along with him to his daughter’s house. Horace is polite and charming. When it comes out that he is a wizard the great-grandfather is infuriated. I found some allegories to the hatred left over from WWII. The old man allowed his hatred and fear to destroy his family.
The Siege of Tilpur
A war story, so it is not my cup of tea. In a war era with canons, muskets, and bayonets plus some sorcery thrown in Tilpur is the name of the fort Sgt. Tamas and his men have been ordered to take. Tamas is a commoner and worse still a powder mage-both of which are looked down upon in this society. His only hope of making officer is to get over the walls and prove his merit. Disgusted after the order to retreat yet again comes down he comes up with an idea that has merit IF the general will allow it.
In Maine 1869 the town's lighthouse keeper saw an odd vessel sinking. Hurrying to save anyone aboard he rescues a man who is not human. The local doctor gives him the name Joseph Island. The townsfolk are all curious about the new resident. One, Lydia seems to be smitten. Having been injured at work and left with a malformed hand which she keeps covered she feels a kinship with Joseph since he also looks different. What follows is a story of seeing others by the actions and not their looks.
Harry has rejoined civilization. He wishes he hadn't since almost immediately he gets a jury summons. What's worse is he's actually picked to be on the jury. The defendant, Hamilton Luther is representing himself. Although the case against Hamilton is airtight Harry has his doubts and begins to suspect that something from his side of the tracks has happened. It looks like he has a new case.
The Dead’s Revenant
Tathal Ennis has come to South Cadbury in search of a sword. His ability to see possibilities aids him in his task. He sees when all will die. Everyone dies eventually. The fact that he causes many of those deaths is immaterial. What is important is finding the sword. This is a side story of sorts of a bad guy from the Annwn stories. Once Shawn writes the next story I am hoping this short will be more enlightening.
One of the problems with anthologies like Rogues or Crucified Dreams is that the stories are all of the same bent. After a while they tend to blur together and I can't remember what distinguishes one story from the next. The two collections edited by Shawn Speakman are not like that because no two stories are going to be alike.
I found this collection to be head and shoulders above the previous.
Madwalls by Rachel Caine – I am not familiar with this author. This story was a very strange. It was an interesting take on plugging the hole in the dike with one's finger.
Stories are Gods by Peter Orullian – This story started with a scene that strained my suspension of belief beyond what it could bear, so that soured the rest of it for me.
River and Echo by John Marco – A poignant tale. I was left wanting to know what happened next.
A Dichotomy of Paradigms by Mark Robinette Kowal – Very outside her usual norm, this story was an interesting look at vanity.
Son of Crimea by Jason Hough – I do not want to spoil this one for you. This story is a prelude to the events of his new novel Zero World, though a prelude by 250-ish years. Excellent story.
An Unfortunate Influx of Filipians by Terry Brooks – Set in the world of Landover, this was an amusing tale. I doubt the lesson was learned, but cannot criticize the participants being so slow of learning from my own mistakes.
The Way Into Oblivion by Harry Connolly – This has the look and feel of a zombie / werewolf / vampire story, but it isn't. The author's novel, The Way Into Chaos has been sitting on my kindle for a while. I think it is time I read it.
Uncharming by Delilah S. Dawson – A cautionary tale with a delightfully brutal resolution. Be careful what you wish for.
A Good Name by Mark Lawrence – I've enjoyed the Broken Empire stories, but this one tops the list of those I've read by far.
All in a Night's Work by David Anthony Durham – I liked this story. It is not set in the world of Acacia, but is set in an alternate version of Egypt. I found it to be a hilarious, rollicking adventure. I'd like another story about Babbel, please.
Seven Tongues by Tim Marquitz – This is the second story story I've read by this author featuring Gryl, a character from an upcoming novel. I've really enjoyed both of the stories and am looking forward to reading the novel. The story has a Guardians of the Flame feel to it, but is more meaty.
Fiber by Seanan McGuire – A super-human cheerleader squad has a real life horror movie adventure. Yeah, just let that sink in for a minute.
The Hall of the Diamond Queen by Anthony Ryan – I thought this story was a bit heavy handed and over played the plot. However, I really liked it. Anthony Ryan knows how to spin a tale, and the ending of the story was perfect.
The Farmboy Prince by Brian Staveley – This story did not go at all as I expected. I thought it was going to be a poke at a familiar fantasy trope, and it started out that way. It did not end that way at all.
Heart's Desire by Kat Richardson – I’m not entirely sure what I just read. A bit too esoteric for me, I think. All I can say is be careful what you wish for.
The Game by Michael J. Sullivan – This is a very interesting story. What would happen if an NPC in a MMORPG became self-aware?
The Ethical Heresy by Sam Sykes – An interesting look at the search for knowledge and the price for acquiring it.
Small Kindnesses by Joe Abercrombie – Everything I've read by this author has been enjoyable. This story has a fantasy-western feel and is well executed.
The Rat by Mazarkis Williams – I think this is my first exposure to this writer. I liked the story, it had a dark, ominous feel.
The Siege of Tilpur by Brian McClellan – This is a story of heroic fantasy set in McClellan's powder mage world. A fun read.
Mr. Island by Kristen Britain – This was a very interesting story. It is set in 1870 and has an alien, a shipping master, and a love story all wrapped up in one individual's efforts to return home.
Jury Duty by Jim Butcher – Harry Dresden gets chosen for jury duty in an open and shut case. Or is it?
The Dead's Revenant by Shawn Speakman – A complex tale of revenge.
My favorite in my wistful current mood was Mr. Island. The sadness and the hopeful optimism despite the situation touched me even more than many novels by master storytellers. Will be on the lookout for the author Kristen Britain.
The Dresden tale was fun and actiony so it didn't totally fit with the vibe of the anthology but it was a good story.
I have to admit to feeling that none of the stories were much of a creative stretch for the writers, with the exception of "The Farmboy Prince." I normally look to short stories as a place for writers to try some off the wall ideas or try a different tone/take without impacting their main work, but I didn't see that here, which was a bit of a bummer. Still, this was solid colllection and a decent amusement. It was also neatly edited and formatted, which is not always a given.
Top reviews from other countries
In short I highly recommend this anthology, you're a big fan of fantasy writing? Then get yourself a copy I guarantee you'll like at least 60% of the stories within if not more.