It’s with more than a little glee that I got to read Rage of the Behemoth, a collection of 21 Sword and Sorcery short stories featuring gigantic monsters. I like Sword and Sorcery. I like big monsters. And most importantly, I like the editor, Jason M. Waltz of Rogue Blades Entertainment, who I’ve had the pleasure to work with a few times, including when he published my story “Deep in the Land of the Ice and Snow” in the <u>Return of the Sword</u> anthology in 2008. Another nice thing about short story collections is I don’t feel the need to read the whole thing all at once; I can read a story or two, then go read a novel or something else, then get back to the collection.
Not only is Rage of the Behemoth about big monsters, but it’s also about the terrain and territories these monsters find themselves in. This anthology is broken up into five sections, Depthless Seas, Frozen Wastes, Scalding Sands, Mysterious Jungles and Ageless Mountains. In each section you will find tales of heroes and the beasts they must face.
Of the 21 stories found within Rage of the Behemoth, I had some favorites. Below are three that stood out for me.
Beyond the Reach of his Gods, by Brian Ruckley
This was my favorite of all the stories found here, but that’s not surprising considering Brian Ruckley is also author of “The Godless World” trilogy of epic fantasy novels. This tale was of my liking because it seemed the most like old Sword and Sorcery tales by such writers as Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber and the like. This story is of Rhuan the Exile and his ship’s crew he leads into the depths of a very foreign and deadly jungle. Dangers along the way include dart-tossing and arrow-shooting natives, and also black magic that produces … something big. I won’t give away what the particular behemoth is in this tale, but I will say that poor Rhuan is tested to his limits.
The Rotten Bones Rattle, by C. L. Werner
This story stood out for me because it’s beastie is quite a bit different from that of any other found in this collection and because the protagonist, samurai Shintaro Oba, is much different from any other in this collection. The tale felt as if it could come right out of the legends of ancient Japan, with samurai, ninja, katanas and … another big, nasty monster, perhaps the most frightening one of all to be found in Rage of the Behemoth. If you like fantasy with an Asian theme, this story should be right for you.
Nothing Left of the Man, by Jeff Stewart
This is a tale of Sigurd Grimbrow. Of course there’s a monster to be found here, but eventually this tale is more about the monsters within each of us must face than it is about the monsters without in the rest of the world. Here, Sigurd and his companions come upon a village under attack by a great beast. What else would mighty warriors do but attempt to hunt down the monster? Has a sad, but surprising end to it.
One other thing I wanted to mention about this anthology of short stories is that there are six different covers available. You can buy your favorite or you can purchase all six for collecting. Below is the basic cover, one that includes a snapshot from each of the other five covers. Of the other five covers, each one represents one of the five terrains found within the collection, though each book contains all 21 stories regardless of which cover it has.
If you love stories of sword-slinging action with a little magic and big creatures tossed in, this collection will get you cheering.