I first encountered Kate Elliott's work as a wee pup, when her Crown of Stars series was being written. They were a huge part of my first foray into "grown up fantasy", and I loved every book. So, you can imagine how excited I was to see this book being released, especially as it had been quite some time since I'd read any of her work.
The Very Best of Kate Elliott is a collection of short stories and a couple of essays. Some of the stories are set in the same worlds as her other series, others are completely separate. All are brilliant, and I found the essays to be really interesting.
One of my favourite things about her work has always been the variety in her characters - especially the female ones. They so often form the core of her stories, and as much as it shouldn't be a remarkable thing, it is. It's really nice to pick up a book and find women that aren't there just to pad out the story for the men, and to find a main character that I can truly relate to. The range of women in this collection is just brilliant, and the exploration of the various forms their strength and bravery can take is fantastic.
It's hard to pick a favourite, I really enjoyed each story. If I had to choose a standout though, it would be The Gates of Jorium. This one really tugged my heartstrings, and I couldn't help but cheer aloud when I reached the end.
Finally, the essays. There are three, and it was The Omniscient Breast that I enjoyed the most - while I was aware of the difference between the male and female gazes, the way each is used, and the narrative choices made by writers (both male and female) were things I hadn't stopped to think about, and that is definitely something that will be changing from now on.
Basically, this book is a great introduction for new readers wanting to know more about Kate's work before committing to a whole series, a delightful read for older fans wanting to reminisce, and anyone who likes their women badass and their fantasy epic.