I recently picked up the package deal of three of the Chicks in Chainmail anthologies on Kindle. I’m disappointed that the first two haven’t gone electronic.

The general idea is fantasy stories featuring women warriors saving males in distress. The various titles in the series have had word plays on the original title, and this one plays that straight with just about all the stories having a man in literally in chains at some point (though some merely settle for a more figurative side). Also, the usual anthology editing applies here, one strong story to lead with, then several secondary stories, leading to a series of better ones, and the best for last. And the tone of the series is generally humorous.

There’s eighteen stories here, most of which are authors I know to one extent or another, and all are enjoyable. The starting story by Harry Turtledove is a lighthearted look at Greek myth with a bit of role reversal, and certainly has some good lines along with setting a good mood for the rest of the book. The next three add to this, with good Elizabeth Moon and Lawrence Watt-Evans stories (I think I’ve seen “In For Pound” elsewhere).

The final story, “Miss Underwood and the Mermaid”, really brings home the classic 80s/90s fantasy feel, and has a good climax, but isn’t actually the best of the lot. Other reviews have rightly pointed out “Leg Irons, the Bitch, and the Wardrobe”, “Cross CHILDREN Walk”, and “Baubles, Bangles and Beads”, the last of which is my favorite.

Esther Friesner is a good editor, with an eye for humor. This isn’t all time greats, it’s not pretentious like Dangerous Visions (and doesn’t want to change SF like it), but it fills its intended role very well.