Allysse reviews Time Well Bent edited by Connie Wilkins

Time Well Bent
Edited by Connie WilkinsA Wind Sharp as Obsidian by Rita Oakes
The Final Voyage of the Hesperus by Steven Adamson
Roanoke by Sandra Barret
A Marriage of Choice by Dale Chase
The High Cost for Tamarind by Steve Berman
A Spear Against the Sky by M.P. Ericson
Sod‘Em by Barry Lowe
Morisca by Erin Mckay
Great Reckonings, Little Rooms by Catherine Lundoff
Barbaric Splendor by Simon Sheppard
Opening Night by Lisabet Sarai
A Happier Year by Emily Salter
The Heart of the Storm by Connie Wilkins
At Reading Station, Changing Trains by C.A. Gardner

This anthology has a very interesting theme. It aims to retell some historical events with a twist: what if the major characters of those events hadn’t been straight?

As soon as I learned about this book I wanted to read it. I love History, short stories and obviously I love reading books with non major heterosexual characters. So that one was bound to be perfect. But it turned out not to be as much of an exciting read as it promised to be, at least not for me.
The problem was, a lot of the historical events portrayed in the book are minor ones, not always well known. It made the reading difficult at first as I was trying to guess where and when I was in time and couldn’t really enjoy the stories themselves. So after a while, I just stopped trying to guess and just enjoyed the stories as they were, forgetting all about the premise of this anthology and found I was enjoying the stories much more this way.
There are, at the end of every story, a little talk from the writers about their choice of historical events and explaining them a bit which was helpful to place the stories in time. But that was not enough for me to really enjoy the retelling. I prefered to think of the stories as not related to a real History when I didn’t know anything about the historical events behind the words.

Though, what I found to be a problem is not necessarily one. The range of events and places in the world covered by the stories is quite extensive, making room for a lot of different civilisations, which I think is a strength in itself. It only become a weakness if like me, you’ve been raised and taught about the Western world and not much else (and haven’t read much about the rest either).

The stories in themselves were all well written and quite enjoyable to read. The styles are varied and everyone can find a story to enjoy. The tones as well are always really different, for example I found Sod‘Em by Barry Lowe to be really funny, while A Marriage of Choice by Dale Chase was more dramatic and Barbaric Splendor by Simon Sheppard full of colours and sensations.

All in all I would recommend this anthology, but I would advise you to forget about your History lessons and just enjoy the stories without the real historical background in mind.

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