Between Worlds: The Collected Ile-Rien and Cineth Stories by Martha Wells. ★★★1/2
Between Worlds collects various stories set in Martha Wells’s worlds of Ile-Rien and Cineth. Ile-Rien was introduced in Martha Wells’s first published book, The Element of Fire (it’s also the setting of one of my favorite Wells’ novels, Death of the Necromancer). In the novel The Wizard Hunters, Martha Wells has characters from Ile-Rien encounter another world, Cineth. The stories in Between Worlds are all set before the events of The Wizard Hunters.
The very first story, “The Potter’s Daughter,” centers Kade, the heroine of The Element of Fire. It’s a prequel to her debut novel, where Kade (the illegitimate daughter of a human king by a fae queen) realizes that someone is trying to get her attention. Unfortunately, this involves murdering people under her protection. Kade goes undercover to get to the bottom of the killings. I enjoyed Kade in The Element of Fire, so it was nice to see more of her here.
The second Ile-Rien story stars Reynard Moran, a supporting character in Death of the Necromancer. Reynard’s backstory involves someone trying to blackmail his ex-boyfriend with their love letters (resulting in the ex killing himself). So when the family of a young girl who’s being blackmailed beg him to help her, he immediately agrees. And, of course, he’s aided in this venture by Nicholas Valiarde, a character I adore. “Night at the Opera” was written for this collection, although it’s now available as well on PodCastle. It’s the only story in this collection that I’d read before.
The majority of stories in Between Worlds are set in Cineth and follow Ilias and Giliead. “Holy Places” is about how Ilias and Giliead first met. Oh my heart! I remember from the trilogy that Ilias was abandoned as a child and adopted by Giliead’s family, but reading about the details of it was still affecting.
In “Rites of Passage,” Giliead longs to go to do Chosen Vessel stuff, but everyone’s saying he’s too young. Of course, their protests come to naught when a wizard’s curse starts to do it’s malicious work. In “House of the Dead,” Giliead and Ilias head off on their first official wizard hunt, responding to reports of something happening to a mountain trading city. They arrive to find the city entirely empty, without even bodies. This creepy story was one of my favorites in the collection. On the other hand, I wasn’t as fond of the very last story, “Reflections.” It’s okay, and it’s always nice to spend time with Ilias and Giliead. Still, it wasn’t anything special.
I’d only recommend Between Worlds for die hard Martha Wells fans. Luckily, I am a die hard Martha Wells fan, so everything worked out well. Oh, and if you’re not familiar with Martha Wells, you need to read something by her. Maybe start with All Systems Red?