No Holds Bard!

Action! Adventure! Humor! The 5th Tales of Fortannis collection, from Double Dragon Publishing, is finally available in paperback and kindle. It features the following great stories:

The Hidden Treasure of Pirate Percy by Michael A. Ventrella: Terin is captured by pirates who are convinced that only he can uncover the hidden treasure, which is so well hidden they don’t even know where to look for it. Can Terin talk his way out of this one?  (Hint: no.) Click here to read the first few pages of “The Hidden Treasure of Pirate Percy”No Holds Bard

Greenpool by Sarah Stegall: Captured unwittingly by the magics of a secret pool, a girl plots her revenge against the fiend who killed her family, only to discover him on his way to her. Can she escape their punishment?

Chalric Hill by Henry Hart: A teenage soldier has to learn to face his fears in a deadly war.

To Be a Squire by Jon Cory:  Sometimes passing the rigorous tests of knighthood can be avoided for clever squires.

Hoarfrost by Susan Bianculli: Stealing the magical sword from the castle would be a lot easier if the sword didn’t have its own mind about the situation.

The Storm Before the Calm by Mark Mensch: Nigel and a friend find themselves both welcomed and held in suspicion by a group of selunari — but Nigel knows something they don’t.

Hidden Bouquet by Derek Beebe: Cowardly young Duke Elmiki from the Hidden Kingdom walks into the lion’s den of his enemy who is sworn to kill him and take over the duchy. Certainly he has a plan, right?

The Lost by Miles Lizak: The loss of memory for a biata has to be treated carefully, because there is a reason someone doesn’t want these thoughts returning…

Bartleby Goes Adventuring by Jesse Hendrix: Bartleby dreams of being a hero but finds that real life often requires cunning and accountancy skills in order to defeat the bad guys.

Squeeze by Shane Porteous: A mysterious skill is needed, but the possessor of that skill is reluctant to make herself known

The Hole in Vorak’s Peak by Bernie Mojzes: Maris is hired by a noblewoman who hates her but needs her skills because the woman’s husband is missing. The two of them go to the rescue but nothing is as it appears.

History Never Repeats by Beth W. Patterson: An island full of wylderkin prove to be more than enough for our heroes to handle.

Here’s what some have said about this collection:

“Like a favorite smorgasbord, No Holds Bard is a rich, eclectic banquet of wonderful stories, alike only in their unpredictable telling. Want bards? Check. Elves? Check. Betrayal? Love? Sacrifice? Humor? Got ‘em all. This collection of authors come together, each with their own offering, to give the reader an experience they’ll not forget.” – Peter Prellwitz, author of the Shards Universe

“Fortannis is a complex world. This richness gives its authors plenty of room to move around in, the freedom to pick and choose, or to start with a clean slate. Some stories are light, almost humorous. Others are darker, some grim, and some even tragic.” – Allen L. Wold, author of The Planet Masters and Jewels of the Dragon

“Whole-hearted adventure, swashbuckling fun, daring heroics and plenty of humor. Prepare to be thrilled and amazed!” – Gail Z. Martin, author of Scourge and The Chronicles of the Necromancer

No Holds Bard is the fifth entry in the Fortannis collections conceived, vetted, and edited by Michael Ventrella. “Fortannis” is the world in which all the adventures take place—a fantasy land which combines the familiar with the innovative (humans, elves and dwarves are around, but so are the feathery, telepathic biata, various animal-kin, and other species).

The punny titles of the collections (others included A Bard Day’s Knight and A Bard in the Hand) give fair warning that some of the stories may be lighthearted, but this is not always the case. Some certainly are (“Bartleby Goes Adventuring”, for instance, which is a rather Danny Kaye-ish fantasy tale) but others are dramatic sword-and-sorcery or poignant tales of how adventure and honor come with prices.

No Holds Bard is at least as good as the prior volumes, and in fact appears to continue the trend of the stories reaching higher bars. Unlike some prior volumes, I found none of the stories in these weak in any respect; there were certainly some that stood out above the others, but none that made me think they were out of place in the collection.

The best feature of the Fortannis books—one strongly re-emphasized here—is the diversity of stories. Heroic tales are side by side with character studies, with workaday people just trying to get by in a fantasy realm, with tragedy and comedy. This is a rare mix; many collections tend to a particular flavor, and while all the stories are clearly “Fortannis,” they don’t slot neatly at all into the same categories—and that’s really a great strength. I highly recommend No Holds Bard! – Ryk Spoor, author of The Balanced Sword trilogy

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