The second The Ancient Magus Bride short story collection, The Silver Yarn, had some ups and downs, and in the end I wasn’t quiet as in love with the stories as with the first collection. I think maybe it was partially expectations, and partly the fact that the first collection had more references to the original characters and series. This set was still entertaining, it just didn’t have the same sparkle.
Three stories stood out for me this time, and as it turns out, they are the ones with more connection to the main story. “War at the Walshes’” looks into the general perspectives of the brownies, and although Silky doesn’t directly appear in the story, these are her people. The general premise involves Chise and Elias too, but again, this isn’t really about them. Two brownies who live in neighboring houses have different philosophies and approaches to their lives, and conflict arises. “Love is a Troublesome Tail” goes back to Ulthar, home of the King of Cats. While none of the original characters participate, there’s a brief reference to an event from early in the main story, and it fits well into the general events told here. There’s the potential for another plague and curse, and Palul the cat (whose perspective on the world is quite realistic to anyone who knows cats) has to figure out how to stop the threat from emerging. I really liked the cat philosophy on the world about how the main suspect was at something of a crossroads, and how the crisis is averted. No kitties harmed, just fyi. Lastly, there’s the conclusion to “Jack the Flash and the Rainbow Egg”. I liked the how things turned out, although it was on the one hand a little predictable, but on the other, I admit I didn’t see some of the main twists coming. The only problem for me was I’m still not sure why Diefenbaker did what he did in the beginning; that’s not clearly explained and I really wish it had been.
The rest of the stories aren’t bad, but they all have some lack of detail or conclusion that bugs me just a little. Both “Natural Colors” and “Flightless Stars” seem a little incomplete in terms of characterization, and since both follow alchemists who seem to have lost their joie de vivre, a little more personality or detail about the main characters’ pasts or something would have been nice to be able to get more interested and into their stories. I’m not sure I liked “Children of the Battlefield”. The premise was interesting, magic being brought into World War II, but some of the main characters again were a little underdeveloped which means that the main conflict ended up being a little pointless. The narrator, an owl familiar named Kirishima, has the most personality, which works ok, but neither Gandly (the female alchemist ship’s captain), nor her adversary Horbiger have much individuality, just some kind of history involving a romance of some sort gone sour. “Agnella’s Song” creeped me out, which it was probably supposed to, but horror of this sort doesn’t really fit into the tone of the main series, at least not for me.
Overall, the second short story collection was more just ok, but it still added some interest and general filling out of the world of a series that I intend to keep following.