This is another one of those reviews that has taken a lot longer to get round to than I had first imagined. The reason for this is I think that ancient wonders contained within it’s pages were conspiring to make my life difficult. During my time reading this anthology the book decided to disappear. I hunted high and low looking for this book, and both times it mysteriously appeared on a book shelf that I checked at least twice. Trust me here are strange and wondrous powers working within this book.
With a title like this, you would hope that the stories contained within are ones that will illicit a feeling of joy and wonder, and perhaps a few that are tinged with a slight darkness. Thankfully, the anthology does this with great aplomb. The stories on offer are an extremely high standard in terms of the quality of writing but more importantly they have that magic edge that makes them special. That ability that brings a wide eyed smile to your face. A lot of the stories have similar themes, of time travel travel, the ancient world impinging on ours, and the legends of old, but each story lives out it’s own fabulous world in the anthology.The opening story Bones by Adrian Tchaikovsky, is a brilliant story of an archeological dig for some monstrous bones that has a fabulous and subtle twist to the tale. Adrian packs a lot into this story, to the point that you get a real feel for this futuristic society of … well you’r going to have to read the book to find out what they are.
Following on from this is perhaps my favourite story of the anthology, If Street by James Brogden. This story will strike a perfect chord with every male reader, don’t lie, I know everyone of you dreamed of being a Roman Soldier as a kid, and probably still do. If Street, is reads like one of those classic Sunday afternoon dramas, there is wonder, danger, sadness and the loss of childhood innocence. It’s also full of great ideas, such as what happens to the Romans when they make the journey across the veil into our world. Excellent stuuff.
William Meikle’s The Cauldron of Camulos is a rip roaring take on Arthurian England, told with Meikle’s spectacular gift to entertain the reader.
Peter Crowther’s Gandalph Cohen and the Land at the End of the Working Day, is one of those unusual stories, that in theory shouldn’t work, but somehow manages to be one that is just pure genius.
The Alchemy Book of Ancient Wonders, is one of those anthologies that really does live up to the title. This is fourteen stories of pure magic, that will whisk to lands full myth, magic, and adventure.