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Military and fantasy have gone together from the earliest days of fantasy storytelling with tales of soldiers, armies, and battles often intertwining with those of knights, kings, and wizards. In some people’s minds, they are almost inseparable, a key element of tales from the likes of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and so on, in whose tales enormous battles play key roles in the overarching stories and serve as backdrops to the main quest.

But like military science fiction, a clearly defined and popular genre, military fantasy can be so much more than an element of epic fantasy plots, with tactics, strategies, and battles taking center stage inside Warhammer, for example, or the works of modern fantasists like Glen Cook’s Black Company tales, Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops, and Steven Erikson’s Malazan.

Some of the most exciting action in fantasy takes place in the context of military engagements, and some of the most memorable characters are warriors, so we decided to bring them together in a collection of such tales here for fans of both military history and tactics and epic fantasy action.

Included are seventeen new tales from top authors such as Glen Cook, Elizabeth Moon, and David Farland writing in their bestselling Black Company, Paksenarrion and Runelords universes, respectively. Larry Correia, Sarah A. Hoyt, and others are writing in new universes. Seanan McGuire gives us an epic fantasy prequel set thousands of years before in her popular October Daye urban fantasy universe, while Robin Wayne Bailey revisits the setting of his Frost novels. In between, we have tales from exciting newer voices like Wendy N. Wagner, Joe Zieja and Annie Bellet, as well as original tales from popular writers like Dave Gross, James L. Sutter, and Cat Rambo.

While each tale is unique, all are fast paced, with plenty of action. Some are dark and deep, others light and funny, but together they should satisfy whatever mood strikes you as you read. Our mission as anthologists is to first entertain and second introduce readers and fans to new voices which they might have not yet discovered. We hope you’ll get plenty of both here as well.

Above all, we hope these tales will inspire you to escape into journeys of the imagination to distant lands where true heroes of courage and honor reside and hope reigns eternal for better days. As Aragorn said at the Black Gate: “A day may come when the courage of Men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of Men comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand!” (Return of The King movie, based on the book of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkien.)

—Jennifer Brozek and Bryan Thomas Schmidt, November, 2013

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