Book Review: ROGUES by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

roguesmallGeorge R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois have produced many anthologies together, and I can honestly say the arrival of ROGUES had me the most excited. While initially, I had this book on pre-order because I wanted to read the story by Patrick Rothfuss, I was continually impressed by the quality of works in this collection.

In the vein of WARRIORS, the ROGUES collection delivers us an archetype: the scoundrel, the Han Solo type of character. Some stories reference this directly, with characters aware of their rogue nature, while others show us heroes forced into more of an antihero role. Tim had a podcast not long ago about Grimdark character arcs, and that discussion came to my mind often with these characters.

As much as I’d love to give an in-depth review of all 21 stories in this 832 page anthology, let it suffice to say it was a hell of a ride, with everything you’d expect and a lot of what you wouldn’t.

There are some high caliber writers on here, almost all of them bestsellers, with only a small handful of names I was only just being introduced to. I had heard of Connie Willis and Cherie Priest, but after reading their stories, I’m more eager to hunt down what else they’ve written. Gillian Flynn was an unexpected delight, as was Daniel Abraham, both only peripherally known to me.

I made the purchase to read Neil Gaiman, Scott Lynch, and Patrick Rothfuss. I was not in any way disappointed with their stories, they were some of the best-written works here, but if all of them had been removed, this would still be a very worthy anthology. This is to say nothing of George R. R. Martin’s novella; if you’ve read any of his novellas set in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, you’ll know exactly what to expect.

As with any anthology, however, I found some low points. There were one or two stories that were less than engaging, but mostly they fell flat because they tried too hard to emulate the theme. We have a lot of gruff male heroes, gunslingers and swordsmen, with plenty of violence and sex and all the grisly ways the two can intersect. While it was good to see the concept played straight, I was more engaged when the writer managed a creative angle. Scott Lynch’s “A Year and a Day in Old Theradane” takes a mostly all-female cast of wizards with an absurd quest, and this worked surprisingly well with Lynch’s talent for narratives usually left to thieves and mercenaries. Connie Willis’ “Now Showing”, set in a foreseeable future, has no physical violence, but carries a strong message while very much fitting the theme.

If there’s a story in ROGUES by an author you enjoy, or have heard of and think you’ll enjoy, you won’t be disappointed. I’d be hard-pressed to find a favorite, and I enjoyed every story I read, for the most part. Highly recommended.



Jared W. Cooper is a Jersey-born writer, gamer, and mostly-coherent genre geek. Between slush reading, writing groups, and editing, he consumes short stories like most people breathe. His reviews, essays, and the odd short fiction piece can be found, sporadically, at

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  1. I have the hardcover sitting on my nightstand right now, but haven’t cracked it open. Glad to hear it is as good as it sounds. I’ll be starting with the Lynch piece.

  2. You brought that overseas? I can relate. When I went to Korea after college I brought three of King’s Dark Tower books. It was more difficult then to find good fiction in English, at least where I was.

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