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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
shauncey
I generally do not like short stories, but had to read Unfettered as it contained some of my favorite writers. In general the stories were quite good, thought there were a couple that I had to skip as I could just not get through them. If your a fantasy fan this is worth a read as it shows you a different side of the authors. I discovered one or two new writers that I will be purchasing.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cheryl lucanegro
There were a few that were a bit a a push to get through. There were some that were great and I am already looking up more works by those authors, then there were others by authors I love that either rough for me to get find interest in, or seemed a bit of a disappointment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
sk tang
Wonderful authors (and pretty awesome people, too, for contributing). The only problem with this book is that it has already led to the purchase of at least five others - and several are just the beginning of their series...so more to come.
Edgedancer: From the Stormlight Archive :: Tree of Ages (The Tree of Ages Series Book 1) :: The Wolf of the North: Wolf of the North Book 1 :: A LitRPG Saga (Chaos Seeds Book 2) - The Land :: Ash: The Days of Ash and Fury, Act One
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jurvis
Some stories were great, but others were a bit too strange for my tastes. Still, the title forewarned that just about anything goes with regards to the stories that were submitted, so if anything, this anthology lived up to its name.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
charity tahmaseb
Some of the stories are very good and others are somewhat boring. Despite what many of the writers say in their forewords, most of the stories do not read very well if you are not familiar with the author's body of work.

However, there are some real gems in this collection, and it is intended for a good cause, so buy it anyway, if only in order to feel good about helping out a good guy who got cancer.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
renee keefe
The Basic problem is that there is no editorial control. Thus some authors put in stories from the beginning of their careers that are not up to their most recent standards. I have to admit that the Robert Jordan and Terry Brooks stories seemed without any fire. The Sanderson and Brett stories were really good and the Speakman story was excellent.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
g phy
Nice collection of fantasy short stories. As with most collections some of these are great and some just not to my taste. I bought it mainly for the Sanderson/Jordan and the Rothfuss story but I ended up likeing many of the other stories better which was a nice surprise. My personal favorite out of the collection was The Old Scale Game by Tad Williams.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
rizki
I originally bought this book because of the awesome authors. Then I read why it was published. Mr. Speakmans story is tragic and also filled with hope. My father-in-law has stage four liver cancer, so we know the costs of treatment. I hope my purchase will help with your bills.
The book itself is great. With great authors for a great cause!!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
andersreads
I got this solely for River of Souls by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson and it was great! Most of the other stories are probably great if you follow certain story-lines or authors, I just wish I didn't have to buy a whole book for just one short story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
caradico
Unfettered has stories by absolute legends of the fantasy genre, and even their long-time fans might be surprised by some entries in this short-story collection. Fans of this genre should certainly purchase and read it, and I'm sure that they will be pleasantly surprised by some of the stories included. (R.A. Salvatore for one really left his norm in his included short story.) I highly recommend this book for people looking for great quick read, and the fact that the proceeds are going to help a cancer survivor makes this a must purchase, and a highly satisfying read to boot.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
yanira
My first experience with short stories. By the time you associated with the character the story ended. Most of them were good and held my attention but I will be going back to full length and perhaps reading some of the authors in this book.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
julia bowden hall
Kevin Hearne's story is worth getting this book if you haven't already read it. I purchased it as a single short story a while back and its a great read! I bought this book as I'm a fan of many of these authors, but after reading the first three in the collection I'm folding. All three were a disappointment. And, given the authors, should not have been.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
mookie
Most of the stories were not very good imo. Out of the first 6+ stories, I liked 2 of them (One was the Jordan/Sanderson short about Bao, the other cannot remember of the top of my head). Which was incredibly frustrating given the level of quality of the authors involved. I put this book down three times to try and read something else more interesting. The fourth time now and I have yet to pick it back up. I hate not finishing it, so I probably will, but not really "looking forward" to it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
william wherry
These are the kinds of endeavors I love to see. All of these great authors willing to donate their work to help a fellow author (and web designer and much more from the sounds of it) are a testament to the giving and sacrificial nature of the fantasy genre.

Many of these authors I have read before and love (Sanderson, Jordan, Sullivan, Williams, Brooks, Rothfuss). Almost every single other author is familiar, but I haven't had the chance to try them out. Here is the perfect opportunity to try the "sampler platter" and know that your $ is going to something greater.

I'll update this review once I have read all of the story and mention my favorites, but I think any Fantasy enthusiast should go ahead and make the purchase. I mean with all of these stories you know there are a few gems in there!

Thanks to all of the authors for this collection and I'll throw up a quick prayer for Mr. Speakman that the worst of his medical challenges are behind him.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
brantley
Unfettered

When I first heard of the book, and saw the author list, I immediately put it in my 'must buy' list. What intrigued me was the whole concept behind the book- that the writers would be able to contribute stories that have no specific theme, which isn't very common in an anthology. I think that it led to some more quality work than might have otherwise been submitted. I especially like the brief intro supplied by each author explaining the story's origins, because I like the behind-the-scenes feel that it gives to the book.

The stories are very well written, and many of them serve as an introduction to some of the other worlds that these authors have created. I will be purchasing more books by these authors soon, and will be happily filling my Kindle to bursting.

One story in particular stands out to me- How Old Holly Came To Be by Patrick Rothfuss. It's set in the same world as his Kingkiller Chronicles, but without any of the characters from that series. It would work well as a song or poem (perhaps sung by Kvothe?) within one of the books; it has a very nice rhythm to it. But I think that people who are looking for a more traditional story to help fill the void between the books might be disappointed. So Rothfuss fans should be aware that this story is not one of his usual pieces, but it's a good read nonetheless.

By far the best thing about the this book is the reason behind its publication. When the editor/contributor Shawn Speakman was diagnosed with lymphoma, he had no medical insurance. What started as just a simple request from Shawn to his friend Terry Brooks, for a short story to donate to help offset his staggering medical bills, turned into Unfettered. The proceeds from the novel all go towards Shawn's medical bills.

Fighting cancer is a very personal thing for me; I have lost too many people I love to this horrible disease. And even when someone survives their ordeal, they are faced with mountains of debt as a result. The fact that Unfettered represents a gathering of writers to help a friend in need was enough to make me purchase the book. Adding in the fact that this particular gathering represents some of the best minds in fantasy today made buying the book a no-brainer.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
cecily walker
This review is solely for the story "River of Souls" by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson.

It caught me by surprise to learn that there was an entirely new The Wheel of Time story in this anthology, so I immediately went to get the book from the library.

A word to the wise: this story will make almost zero sense, at least in terms of it being part of a larger whole, unless you've finished the entire Wheel of Time series, which ended with A Memory of Light.

So, if you're still with me, I'm happy to report that, while it takes a few pages to figure out what's going on, this is a worthy little tale which fills in a bit of the gaps in the overall epic narrative. Saying anything at all would qualify as a spoiler, so I'll leave it at that.

I can only hope that the incredibly productive Brandon Sanderson decides to revisit this world again sometime, since he clearly loves it as much as the rest of us.

Highly recommended.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hanngrenade
As a collection of short stories this is a bit hard to evaluate as a whole given that the entries in it vary quite a bit. There are some I did not enjoy at all and a few that I enjoyed immensely.

Of the best are: “The Old Scale Game” by Tad Williams, which is a very simple and straightforward story with a lot of heart; "The Jester” by Michael J. Sullivan which is very funny; “Keeper of Memory” by Todd Lockwood that managed to capture my imagination, and “Heaven in a Wild Flower” by Blake Charlton which is by far the most apt story for this collection and actually touches the reader.

A few authors venture to flex their literary muscle and perhaps venture too far into the style over substance result.

Unfettered has an impressive variety of stories from very recognized authors; as such, this collection works as a sampler into their works. Personally I could reorder my books-to-read pile having read Unfettered.

The price of the book is worth for the ‘sampler’ approach alone, but with the few really good stories thrown in this is almost a must buy.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kayla eckert
If you're actively involved in the fantasy community, chances are you've run across Shawn Speakman at some point. He's the webmaster for Terry Brooks and Naomi Novik, runs The Signed Page, writes articles for Suvudu, and does all kinds of other assorted work. This has led to him being relatively well-connected in the speculative fiction genre.

Shawn had been diagnosed with cancer and beaten it before. When it struck a second time, he had no medical insurance and accumulated a seemingly insurmountable amount of debt. At the same time, his manuscript The Dark Thorn had been passed up by just about every major agent. This would have been enough to crush most people (I honestly can't say I would have been able to handle it) but Shawn took adversity and turned it into opportunity.

He had the resources that defined "self-publishing" differently for him than it did most people. He launched his own imprint, Grim Oak Press, and self-published The Dark Thorn. Flying in the face of rejection, the book has sold and reviewed well. Terry Brooks then suggested that Shawn call upon his friends and create an anthology to help pay down his debt. And Shawn's friends answered the call in resounding fashion!

The background should be enough to inspire you to purchase this anthology. I have never been prouder to be an SFF nerd than when I saw so many people in the genre rush to Shawn's aid. The authors by contributing stories, various websites by promoting the book, and the readers through purchasing it. Shawn now has successfully paid back his medical bills, and I believe intends to donate the remaining profits to charity.

But if you need an additional reason to purchase this anthology, how about this - it's really good! Look at the line-up of authors! I enjoyed the entries from some of my favorites, even if some of them were atypical (Rothfuss and Salvatore, in particular, do not submit the type of stories you might expect from them). But what made this even more worthwhile was the ability it gave me to sample authors I'd never read before. Peter Orullian is a name that kept popping up in various places, and his story (rather long for a "short" story!) allowed me to finally read one of his works. The music-as-magic element really appealed to me, and now I feel it would be a worthwhile investment to check out one of his novels.

Good cause, good reads. You can check out new stories from authors you love, or sample authors you might be interested in. This anthology is a complete package, and earns from me a very well-deserved five stars.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
vincent morrison
It's a great collection of short stories from a Who's Who of the fantasy genre. One word of caution, seeing so many authors may help introduce you to a new one but several of the stories are more fulfilling if you have read the author's previous works. This is not to say you can't enjoy the story. Highly recommend this to anyone that's a fan of fantasy. I am now reading Annwn Cycle thanks to Unfettered.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
vincent
Shawn Speakman sought the help of friends, both unknown and the kings of the science fiction and fantasy genres, and asked for help. The book was created with the idea of helping with his medical bills. It is an anthology of short stories.

But that is where UNFETTERED gets interesting. See, unlike most short story collections, this book has one major difference - no theme. The authors were free to write what they wanted. The end result couldn't have been better.

Every turn of the page brought something new. Each author contributed greatness, be it stories that led to a series (Terry Brooks), another random short staring their series characters (Michael Sullivan, Naomi Novik, Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson), the first attempts at a story from a talented artist (Todd Lockwood), to completely random shorts that, while odd, flowed incredibly. Every story clocked in around 30 pages or less...but the passion and the skill of each author echoed through the pages. I found myself stopping after each story and thinking about what I had just read.

The stories are all about anything the author desired, and that caused me to slow down my reading. Beautiful as each story was, the next page was going to be something completely different, and that took me out of my normal speed of reading. But that isn't a criticism. These pauses and the length of time I used to read this just made me appreciate it all the more.

UNFETTERED left me happy, sad, angry, and hungry for more, a LOT more, from a lot of authors. It increased the size of my to-read list by a considerable amount, and lead to a few books I've already purchased and hope to dive into very soon. It was a book for a great cause, and beyond that, it will stand on my shelf as the book I will loan or recommend to anyone who wants to dip their toe into the world of science fiction and fantasy. This book is a gateway drug, and if I wasn't already an addict, I'd be hooked now.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jessica piazza
Possibly the first anthology I read all of them. I personally enjoyed the stories. Many of the authors were new to me. Terry Brooks short stories add dimension to his other work, if that is possible. Shawn Speakman is a great new author who is so lucky to know so many people to help him in his pre Obama era of debt. I believe that anyone can benefit from the respite from reality offered by these short stories. Easy to read a little before bed.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
tanya christensen
Some heavy hitters in this collection and since it was "unfettered" the stories ranged wildly. It was very enjoyable to have no idea what the next story might be about. The forewords from each author were very interesting too. I have read most of these authors before so I was not worried about not having a background for the stories, but even without that history, I am sure most sci-fi readers would find the stories enjoyable as stand alones. It doesn't hurt that this book is doing good work too.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marsha payne
A lot of anthologies have a specific theme that all the authors adhere to -- P. N. Elrod is a master at these literary concept albums, and they're always fun.

What Shawn Speakman and Grim Oak Press have created is just a little different. Instead of enforcing a strict thematic code, the anthology is unfettered. The only requirement was quality, and the authors were allowed to showcase their talents.

You gotta read it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
michael powers
The collection of fantasy authors in this anthology is fantastic. I read some of my favorites (Terry Brooks, Patrick Rothfuss) and introduced me to others I was unaware of (Eldon Thompson). The only story I didn't read was one by Robert Jordan/Brian Sanderson that was tied into the Wheel of Time, which I had gotten tired of back around Vol 6. This anthology should be read by all lovers of fantasy, and it is for a good cause, namely helping pay some huge medical bills of the editor.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mojgan ghafari shirvan
This beautiful book of short stories is truly incredible.I am about halfway through the book and each and every story has made me laugh, cry, cringe, get angry..the stories are so personal, near and dear to each author. It's just one of the best short story books I think I've ever read and I can in no way possible reccommend it highly enough. Treat yourself to this amazing book and in doing so help Mr Speakman out with those damn evil medica bills.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mahansa sinulingga
I notice many of the reviews have nothing to do with the quality of the book but the concept for which it was written. Mine will be on the quality of reading.

It is very hard for me to give anything a perfect score.

I have not read every story yet, but I have read enough to know I am glad I purchased this book.

Of what I have read, Brandon Sanderson's River of Souls and Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire stand out. I really enjoyed both of those.

*Adding a couple of more stories I found to be very good...
Strange Rain by Jennifer Bosworth
The Jester by Micheal J Sullivan
Unfettered Knight by Shawn Speakman
Unbowed by Eldon Thomas (very very good)
Heaven in a Wildflower by Blake Charlton (tear jerker)

David Anthony Durham story was cute.

On the flip side the Patrick Rothfuss was completely unreadable to me. I am sure some people will enjoy it, but it is far from my cup of tea.

The other stories I have read to this point have all been enjoyable.

I will certainly be buying some books by the above mentioned authors.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
erica cameron
I picked up this book because it contained a short story by Kevin Hearne I was looking for and was pleased to find a number of authors I hadn't heard off and have now bought books on foot of the stories in this collection. An interesting and eclectic gathering of tales, well worth a look.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
julia wu
This is one of the best books/anthologies that I've ever read. I discovered so many new artist because of this book(Mark Lawrence, Peter Orullian, etc.) and I also got some really great short stories from my favorite authors(Terry Brooks, Patrick Rothfuss, Shawn Speakman, etc...this book is so worth it...trust me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
nicole alexander
There are a couple stories that are sentimental to the author that are hard to get into. Even the lack lustre stories are great. Most of the stories will have you close to tears or anger. The telling is truely amazing. Every story has an intoduction. The author explains the motives and in some cases that is more heart wrenching than the story. Truely a crafted colection by a band of friends.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jimmy la rue
Many more people like Mr Speakman can be helped with this wonderful concept. Their lives are just as important so let us all look forward to many more volumes such as this one, each dedicated to helping another deserving individual.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
samah
I really am not a huge fan of scifi-fantasy, but I have found a few interesting books now and then. So far, I am not impressed with this anthology. Part 1 rates a 2. Part 2, so far, is 3-ish. Some of these stories I was completely lost. It's as if the characters and the explanations of their respective planets, etc. was already explained and I missed it. I'm crossing my fingers that part 3 does not disappoint.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
eric dawson
Just loved all of it. What a noble way for writers to come together and put forward stories they had kicking around or try new ideas for stories that wouldn't fit in their current work flow (A space story about Temeraire. Brilliant).
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
steve coughlan
Edited to add: If you're reading this review, please look at the replies. They will tell you where to go online to get a copy directly from the publisher for a fair price.

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You have got to be kidding me... Not available in hardback except from resellers, at $72 and up? And only available at a lower price in Kindle or Nook format?

Yes, I did want to read the final unpublished segment of the Wheel of Time, and yes, I know this book was published as a fundraiser for a book editor with cancer. But I don't own a Nook or Kindle, and I'm not about to buy one nor pay $72 for a paper copy so I can read one short story.

Honestly, if they really wanted to max out the fundraiser bit by selling as many copies as possible, you'd think they could make the print edition available at an affordable price. There are enough high-profile authors included to justify publishing more copies and selling them at a lower price.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
arik
I was very excited to read "River of Souls", which is basically a deleted story line from the Wheel of time, A Memory of Light. However the story was very short, it felt very unfinished, and offered very little detail. Overall I do not feel that it added anything to my Wheel of Time experience and was not worth my $10.

I will continue to read some of the other stories and will update my review in a few days.
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