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Young Warriors: Stories of Strength    edited by Tamora Pierce & Josepha Sherman order for
Young Warriors
by Tamora Pierce
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

This magnificent book is a collection of fifteen unique short stories that answer the question, 'What Makes A Warrior?' Young Warriors includes varied tales and outcomes, set in medieval England, Africa, ancient Greece and Egypt, colonial India, WW II Ireland, and Russia. An 'occasional wink' of humor is included in Mike Resnick's The Boy Who Cried "Dragon!", and Esther Friesner's Thunderbolt.

Here are some highlights ... Bruce Holland Rogers' The Gift of Rain Mountain is narrated by Mactun as he assists his brother Baxmal and friend Chulchun, who sit high in trees, spying on a neighboring city. Mactun has to deliver a dire message to the palace generals. On his hurried journey through the Mountain, Mactun encounters an old man three times. The man offers him rewards if Mactun will stop and keep him company. Mactun replies, 'I thank you. But I must continue for my father needs me.' The third offering is peace! The Magestone by S. M. and Jan Stirling tells a tale of a sea-journeying youth, Fare, whose mother gave him a special stone to wear for safety. As Fare looks over the side of his boat, he sees the face of a girl in the water - a mermaid named Neesha, scouting the sea-lane for her people's enemy, who have captured her leader. Neesha is drawn to the ship by the power of Fare's Magestone.

Janis Ian lends a masterful voice to her Jewish tale of Eli and The Dybbuk. On 'the eve of the Sabbath', Eli dreamily walks home. His parents speak of his betrothal to Leah. But Eli feels unready, compounded by his doubts about Leah. On the way home, he bumps into Leah, and senses that this is not the real Leah, but a dybbuk, (a 'dead soul who'd been too evil in this life to enter heaven'). India Edghill's story is breathtaking. She begins, 'Our lives are shadows flung upon the world by a careless fire; dust blown by a cruel wind.' Her tale is narrated by a reincarnated young woman - Manoj is to marry a man twice her age who works for a rich English family. Manoj is employed as ayah to the family's young daughter, Estella Humboldt. The two become fast friends, influencing Manoj's actions.

Tamora Pierce pens a short story of a heroine named Kylaia, who is granted her wish to become a warrior. She observes the animals that cross her path. Kylaia becomes a 'Student Of Ostriches', learning how they run with long strides and kick at wild dogs in defense. Watching the giraffe, Kylaia learns to punch, adding a zebra's kicks, the 'double-hand strike' of the lion, and a 'back-of-the-fist' blow like the elephant. A time comes when Kylaia steps forward to defend the honor of her family, and is offered the opportunity to study to become a Shang warrior. Other contributors and their splendid bylines include Serpent's Rock by Laura Jane Gilman; Holly Black's Heartless; Lioness by Pamela F. Service; Hidden Warriors by Margaret Mahy; Doranna Durgin's Emerging Legacy; An Axe For Men by Rosemary Edghill; Lesley McBain's Acts of Faith, and Swords That Talk by Brent Hartinger.

Pierce writes in the Introduction, 'There are… nonhuman powers in some of these stories, powers that give the young protagonists a nudge - or ... pretend to give the young warrior what he desires, only to deliver a surprising twist ... but you the reader are left to make your own conclusions about the rightness or wrongness of that outcome.' In Sherman's Afterword, she notes, 'in many world's cultures, young people, boys and girls alike, were expected to become warriors, to help protect their tribes and sometimes to show their worth as potential husbands and wives.' The editors predict the reader will ask the question 'What would I fight for?'

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