Neither Beg Nor Yield: Stories With S&S Attitude edited by Jason M. Waltz, illustrated by M.D. Jackson fantasy and science fiction sword and sorcery book reviewsNeither Beg Nor Yield: Stories With S&S Attitude edited by Jason M. Waltz, illustrated by M.D. Jackson fantasy and science fiction sword and sorcery book reviewsNeither Beg Nor Yield: Stories With S&S Attitude by Jason M. Waltz (editor) & M.D. Jackson (illustrator)

I don’t know how aware SFF fandom is, but sword & sorcery has had a resurgence of late. Jason M. Waltz and most of the authors featured in Neither Beg Nor Yield have been champions of this subgenre, some for the past quarter century. Mr. Waltz first published sword & sorcery and other great heroic and weird fiction with Flashing Swords Press and later under his own micro-press, Rogue Blades Entertainment. Neither Beg Nor Yield may prove to be the vanguard for their cause.

It’s my belief that an anthology is only as good as its introduction. Mr. Waltz’s introduction, “It’s Not Gentle,” which is a summary of S & S, proves my notion true. The shield wall that separates sword & sorcery from other fantasy genres is not steadfast. Sure, S & S is usually on a personal level instead of a world- or kingdom-encompassing scale and it’s more action and romance oriented. Also, it contains more elements of horror. But there’s an aesthetic to it that’s hard to explain. With great wit and somewhat obscure quotes, Waltz captures in words what the heart and soul of S & S is: a no retreat, no surrender, and lustily-lived-life attitude. If fantasy was rock music, then sword & sorcery would be metal.

Neither Beg Nor Yield might be one of the biggest anthologies I’ve read – twenty freakin’ hardcore tales! Too many for this lazy reviewer to address individually. Instead, I’m going to attempt to convey the blood, sweat, and guts of the thing. Neither Beg Nor Yield doesn’t just capture the essence of sword & sorcery; Mr. Waltz and company are morphing what was originally pulp fiction into something more modern and diverse. What many are now calling “New Edge,” a term coined by Howard Andrew Jones and the title of Oliver Brackenbury’s new S & S magazine. Waltz even quotes Bon Jovi in the book’s description! How cool is that?

Neither Beg Nor Yield: Stories With S&S Attitude edited by Jason M. Waltz, illustrated by M.D. Jackson fantasy and science fiction sword and sorcery book reviewsThe list of contributing authors is temptation enough to slap down your hard-won coin. You’ve got some heavy hitters of SFF and weird fiction: Steven Erikson, Glen Cook, Adrian Cole, and Joe R. Landsdale. There are authors of some of the most popular Robert E. Howard pastiche as well as their own creations, like John C. Hocking, Chuck Dixon, and David C. Smith, co-author of a series of RED SONJA novels from the 80’s that this reviewer wants to get his mitts on. Howard Andrew Jones has a tale from his popular series, CHRONICLES OF HANUVAR, that just launched in book form last year with the first two novels published by Baen. C.L. Werner and William King are both chroniclers of their own venerable S & S titles in the WARHAMMER / WH40K universe for the notorious Black Library publishing. John R. Fultz is next up on this fanboy’s reading list with his new book, Immaculate Scoundrels. Steve Goble, Jeff Stewart, and Phil Emery all have excellent stories in Jason M. Waltz’s first anthology, The Return of the Sword. I was unfamiliar with the remaining authors, but all their tales proved worthy of the spirit and strength that Crom breathed into us at birth.

Neither Beg Nor Yield proves that sword & sorcery has a rightful claim in current SFF. This isn’t just your grandfather’s S & S, although there’s something for him, too. The stories are diverse in characters and settings, and they are better for it. There are settings like the bronze age, Norse, ancient Egypt, the dark ages, medieval, as well as traditional fantasy worlds. C.L. Werner’s “Hunters and Prey,” a new adventure of his ronin character Shintaro Oba, is based in a mythical, feudal Japan. “Suspension in Silver” by Eric Turowski is a modern monster story with bikers. “The Organ Grinder’s Monkey” by Joe R. Landsdale is a story with robots, muscle cars, and demons in a multi-dimensional, apocalyptic, retro-futuristic kinda place. Lawrence A. Weinstein even gives us a courtroom drama with “The Barbarian’s Lawyer.”

To say there isn’t a weak story in Neither Beg Nor Yield is a downright understatement. I can’t even pick a favorite because they’re all my favorites. There truly is something for any SFF fan regardless of whether they’re a longtime sword & sorcery fan or a curious reader with only an inkling of interest in the genre.

Published in March 2024. Can you handle the truth? Sword & Sorcery has always been about the attitude. Stop seeking elaborate definitions. Cease arguing over semantics and accoutrements. Quit making it more difficult than necessary. Learn the fundamental immutability of the S&S Riddle: Protagonists with nonchalant mercenary motivations & indomitable wills. It’s all in their attitude. The definition of S&S has never been clearer. Sword & Sorcery warriors are very, very dangerous people, considered barbaric, who act according to their own codes of honor in pursuit of their own ends. Brothers (and sisters) to THE WILD BUNCH, comrades of the SEVEN SAMURAI, partners of every MAN IN BLACK, and riders in every WILD HUNT. They don’t just seize the day—they seize Life itself by the throat and squeeze until it begs. They don’t falter in the dark or before the unknown—they spit in the face of Death itself and stomp it into the dirt until it yields. NEITHER BEG NOR YIELD: STORIES WITH S&S ATTITUDE is filled with over 180,000 words in 20 stories! This is THE BOOK OF SWORD & SORCERY that will define the genre for generations. Reading the powerful tales from these storytellers will permanently answer the question: WHAT IS SWORD & SORCERY? It’s always been its attitude! Discover the truth as Eadwine Brown, Adrian Cole, Glen Cook, Steve Dilks, Chuck Dixon, Phil Emery, Steven Erikson, John R. Fultz, Steve Goble, John C. Hocking, Howard Andrew Jones, William King, Joe R. Lansdale, David C. Smith, Jeff Stewart, Keith J. Taylor, Frederick Tor, Eric Turowski, Bill Ward, Lawrence A. Weinstein, and C.L. Werner share it!


  • Greg Hersom

    GREG HERSOM’S addiction began with his first Superboy comic at age four. He moved on to the hard-stuff in his early teens after acquiring all of Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the controversial L. Sprague de Camp & Carter edited Conan series. His favorite all time author is Robert E. Howard. Greg also admits that he’s a sucker for a well-illustrated cover — the likes of a Frazetta or a Royo. Greg live with his wife, son, and daughter in a small house owned by a dog and two cats in a Charlotte, NC suburb. He's been with FanLit since the beginning in 2007.

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