Stories of the Raksura Volume II
Stories of the Raksura: Volume II is the second anthology in Martha Wells Raksura series. This collection of short stories continues to follow the adventures of Moon, the Indigo Cloud Court and others in the bizarre, fantastical setting of the Three Worlds. It’s a place where there are no humans, only groundlings, and those who can shapeshift into winged creatures are feared. If you haven’t read any of the books in the series, the short story collections are a good way to get introduced to the characters and the setting. However, for those who are fans of the series, this is a must read. Beyond just providing new stories for readers, Martha Wells continues the tale of the Indigo Cloud Court with stories set after the events of the last novel, The Siren Depths.
There are five stories in total in Volume II, each set in different time periods, and most of them feature Moon as the main character. “The Dead City” is set before The Cloud Roads. It explores new species and introduces new friends and enemies as Moon finds himself in trouble as groundlings fight over an ancient city in the jungle. “Mimesis” is a previously released story that was available in The Other Half of the Sky. It takes place three months after The Siren Depths and follows Jade, Balm, Sand, Aura and Serene on a hunting trip that turns into a rescue operation in the lower reaches of the forest. “Trading Lesson” takes place a month afterwards and has Moon teaching the Raksura a few lessons in trading with groundlings. “The Almost Last Voyage of the Wind-Ship Escarpment” changes gears by leaving the Raksura behind. Instead, it stars a cast of groundlings. A ship captain named Jai takes on a mission to deliver a ransom for the Issilans. Aboard their wind-ship, they encounter sealings and find out first hand why they’re so feared. All in all it’s a great collection of stories, some more action oriented than others, but all of them colorful, imaginative and fun. Yet it’s the last story that really adds a lot to the book.
“The Dark Earth Below” is really a novella. At 94 pages, it takes up a big chunk of the anthology. It’s also set after The Siren Depths, so it continues the story of the Indigo Cloud Court. Best of all, it covers a key event in the series: Moon and Jade’s clutch. Yes, they finally get kids. But it’s not just a story about Jade giving birth and readers finding out the gender of their kids, how many, and their names. Instead there’s a whole story about mysterious groundlings and predators. It involves the plant like Kek who seek Indigo Cloud’s help as they try to unravel the mystery behind dead groundlings, a floating leaf boat and invisible creatures. It’s a fun story and a great addition to the series.
When it was first revealed that Martha Wells would be writing two story anthologies instead of a fourth book in the Raksura series, I was bummed out as I really wanted another full length novel. However, after reading Stories of the Raksura Volumes I and II, I have to say it worked out well. On one hand it continued the fun of the series, yet on the other, it explored new areas, time periods and characters we would not have seen in the series proper. Both collections turned out great and are must reads for fans of the series. I give Stories of the Raksura: Volume II a five out of five metal bikinis.