So when the author announced that he would release a collection of his published short fiction, Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten, I was curious to see if I would enjoy it as much as his novel-length material. And while this collection failed to wow me the way his critically acclaimed trilogy did, many short stories show glimpses of the potential that Beaulieu was able to showcase within the pages of The Lays of Anuskaya later on in his writing career.
Here's the blurb:
With The Winds of Khalakovo, Bradley P. Beaulieu established himself as a talented new voice in epic fantasy. With his premiere short story collection, Beaulieu demonstrates his ability to weave tales that explore other worlds in ways that are at once bold, imaginative, and touching. Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten and Other Stories contains 17 stories that range from the epic to the heroic, some in print for the first time.
It is evident that aspiring fantasy authors seldom have the luxury of being picky when it comes to get their stories in print, but right off the bat I must admit that Bradley P. Beaulieu contributed to a number of decidedly weird anthologies early in his career. And yet, the variety of styles, tones, and genres demonstrate just how fertile the author's imagination can be. Still, short stories such as "How Peacefully the Desert Sleeps" and "Flotsam" were quite weird. . .
As a fan of The Lays of Anuskaya, getting a glimpse of the future beyond the trilogy in "Prima" was quite interesting. Even more so was going back in time with "To the Towers of Tulandan." Those fans intrigued by his upcoming YA series can get a feel for things to come in "Unearthed." Highlights of the collection include the excellent "Shadows in the Mirrors," "Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten," "Good Morning Heartache," "Cirque du Lumière" (Why can't anglophones ever get any French right? Just encountered another such mistake in Mark Lawrence's latest today. It's not like those authors cannot get their stuff proofread, right?), and "Foretold."
I often say that in terms of style, Bradley P. Beaulieu's is some sort of hybrid between Steven Erikson and L. E. Modesitt, Jr. From time to time, he also shows a deft human touch that reminds me of Robin Hobb. In addition, the author's darker and brooding narrative can at times be reminescent of Stephen R. Donaldson. In terms of characterization and magical system, don't expect black-and-white protagonists and flashy bells and whistles. No, Beaulieu's approach is very similar to that of Modesitt. His cast of characters may not be the most flamboyant group of men and women, yet they are nevertheless solid, genuine, and three-dimensional protagonists that remain true to themselves. He writes adult fantasy that will probably not appeal that much to teenagers.
The final verdict: 7.5/10
If you want to give Beaulieu a shot but don't want to invest time and money in a big, multilayered trilogy, you can download Lest Our Passage Be Forgotten for only 2.51$ here. It will give you a good idea of what sort of speculative fiction author Bradley P. Beaulieu is and whether or not The Lays of Anuskaya might be for you.