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Bash Down the Door and Slice Open the Badguy edited by W. H. Horner

Yesterday, I finished reading Bash Down the Door and Slice Open the Badguy. It has a subtitle of "Humorous Tales of sword & Sorcery!" It is a collection of twenty-four short stories, edited by W. H. Horner and illustrated by Chris Chua and published by Fantasist Enterprises. The stories were short, less than ten thousand words, and I found myself reading 2-3 at a time before bed each night, kind of like popcorn. Some of them were hilarious, some of them really enjoyed flipping cliches over, but a few of them were "eh" to me, mainly because I couldn't really get into the story.

Now, I like reviews. I like honest opinions, even they aren't of praise. When I was at GenCon, I asked the authors if I could do a review and if they would like it and I got an overwhelming "yes." Actually, I was surprised that one author appreciated what I felt was probably my most negative review ever. But, maybe honesty is a good thing. That said, I absolutely love it when people do this same thing for me; I've found a couple surprise reviews of my stories in places and re-read them like 10-20 times.

I've never done a review of an anthology, but I'll do it as a bullet list. Seems appropriate, since I can't really give 5-10 paragraphs per story that might be shorter than that. :)

The main theme was followed pretty well in the story. The illustrations I felt were a tad too busy and kind of distracted from the stories. It might be the artistic style, but I prefer slightly less detailed lines in my work. Specially in the black and white story. However, they were appropriate for each story, which was nice.

  1. Beerwulf by Lawrence C. Connolly: As the first story in an anthology, it really sets the tone for the entire book. Unfortunately, I really didn't get into this one. The writing itself is okay, but it didn't really flow that well for me. The characters were interesting, I liked the characters a lot, but the plot and structure didn't really do anything for me.
  2. A Different Shade of Knight by Jason S. Ridler: Another story I couldn't really get into. There were some interesting characters, a nice opening, but I almost felt that it could have used a bit more... depth to it.
  3. Assassin's Playground by A. G. Devitt: This story was interesting, but I had to struggle in places ot read it. Even the second time I read it took me a bit to really get into the story. I wanted to know more about the characters by the end, they had some interesting flairs that I liked, but other than that, it was just a bit too hard.
  4. Mistress Fortune Favors the Unlucky by Eugie Foster: This one was cute. I mean, I have a fondness for noir-style stories and mysteries, but this had such a wonderful lighthearted-tone to it.
  5. A Lesson in Heroics by Jeremy Yoder: Evil old ladies take their own sides. Enough sides. Great story, sarcastic and witty. This one I really liked.
  6. The Ice Maiden Speaketh by Paul Crilley: This story reminded me of another short story, one I read so many years ago and set in Oz. It starts off with letters and moves smooth into the rest of the story. I liked it and thought it was pretty cute of a story, a nice set of dry wit to enjoy the story.
  7. Keep Coming Back for More by Margaret Ronald: Ah, the stories of the henchmen, the victims, the Nodwicks. The ending wasn't that exciting to me, but getting there was the enjoyable part.
  8. The Great Thrakkian Rebellion by Megan Crew: A short little tale of a rebellion. I thought the voice of this story was just perfect.
  9. Always Read the Fine Print by L. L. Donahue: Interestingly, I didn't think this story was really that funny at all. I mean, not at all. However, as a fantasy romance, it very well written and enjoyable.
  10. Heard It by Dale Mettam: Stories that go against cliches. This was funny, but it in the sense of a parody. My only real complaint about it, which was the entire point of the story, is that the characters knew exactly what they were doing. A story of "been there, done it" that worked in very nicely for the story but didn't really excite me.
  11. Crossing Swords by Murray J.D. Leeder: I like the main character of this story. I like the noir tone to it and I like how it ended. It was also just different enough to make me wonder what was going on and I was actually pleasantly surprised by the end.
  12. Hallah Iron-Thighs and the Hounds of Hell by K. D. Wentworth: I love hounds. I love stories where you can practically breath in the stench of descriptions and know exactly how bad it is. In this case, it was just perfect for that. The characters were quirky (a plus), no one was really that perfect (another plus), but the good guys mostly won out in the end.
  13. There's Only One Dakon the Mighty by Elizabeth H. Hopkinson: This was a dry story. It was humorous for the content and the problems, but not for the characters. I enjoyed it because of his struggles but I couldn't get into the main character to really "care" about it.
  14. Goblin Hero by Jim C. Hines: While I wouldn't call this story amusing, it was sardonic and dry. I actual read it as just a normal fantasy short story and I enjoyed it as such. Funny? Not as much, but well-written and something I would read again.
  15. No Shit, There We Were by Michael Brendan: A short little ditty told from the voice of one person. This was amusing, but I felt that it could have gotten so much further. The responses to actions through narration were pretty good, it was just a tad too short.
  16. But Before I kill You... by Lindsey Duncan: I struggled with this one. Not because of the topic, but mainly from the characterizations of the various people in the story. There were also a few places I had to re-read the sentences a couple times to figure out what was really going on. The topic, on the other hand, was adorable and I liked how it progressed very much.
  17. An Incident at Black Tongue Tavern by Michael Turner: I didn't care for this one. I struggled to read it and really didn't get into it at all. There were some little cute points (harlot license and the last sentance comes to mind), but overall it was just a chuckle for me.
  18. Deliah's Dames in Nomadsland by Melissa Lee Shaw: I didn't figure it out either, but it was a light-hearted tale. Not heavy on the humor. Almost a sexy little romp with just a bit of humor in all the right places. The ending... a tad neat, but otherwise I liked it.
  19. The Atrocious Head-Bashing Troubadour by C. M. Huard: This one I liked. It was kind of silly, without any sense of reality, made fun of a few stories along the way, and had a great ending.
  20. The Voice of Reason by Ken Brady: This was actually sad for me. I mean, how the story worked, it wasn't funny at all. As a story of irony, on the other hand, it was pretty well, I just didn't think it was that funny. It might be that I like that ride though.
  21. In the Shit by Barbara Davies: I had to read this one twice before I really got into it. It had a nice sense of humor, but it was a tad graphic in places. Not that it bothers me, and I like how the resolution was unexpected as much as the entire problem.
  22. The Wrestler's Apprentice by Stephen Castillet: The characters in this story I felt were pretty good, though the main character was just a tad "perfect" I felt while I read it, but it was enjoyable.
  23. The Order of the Crimson Tunic by Kevin N. Haw: I like the format of this, the entire story told in letters home. Yeah, what was going to happen was pretty damn obvious by the third letter, but how it happened and how it ended was an absolute stitch. I like the strobe-like progression of the story.
  24. Just Temping by Susan Sielinski: In some ways, I would have paid for this entire book just for this story. That isn't to say there weren't some really great ones in there, but this is my favorite of the entire book. I didn't see the plot twists until they happened, but it was one of those headsmack types of things that I just loved. Plus, it had a nice descriptions, interesting characters, and just a hint of personality in some people that made it really enjoyable to read.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. There were a couple I didn't care for, but mostly I felt it was a humorous book. There were a couple of stories that I told Fluffy that she had to read. I would recommend it for the story I did like just as much as the stories I didn't care for I could easily see as being great for some of my friends.

(Hrm, it is really hard to say meaningful things of that many stories at once.)

Summer Biking: (239.6 of 400.0 km)
Change of Honor (1 of 3 rounds)
Another Werewolf's Tail (2 of 3 rounds)
Commissioned Work (493 of 10,000 words)