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Publisher's Summary

Life can kick us when we are down.

In Shawn Speakman's case, he is fighting back.

Lacking health insurance and diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2011, Speakman beat the disease as well as the massive medical debt he amassed from its treatment. He did this by publishing Unfettered, an anthology featuring short stories donated by some of the best science fiction and fantasy writers working today.

The fight will not stop there. In an effort to pay forward the aid he received - and to memorialize his mother who passed away from stomach cancer in early 2016 - Speakman has again collaborated with celebrated genre authors to publish Unfettered II. All proceeds from the anthology will either help eliminate medical debt for other authors or be donated to cancer research hubs around the world.

Twenty original new tales comprise this amazing collection and, as the title suggests, the writers were again free to contribute whatever they wished.

Here is the lineup for Unfettered II:

  • Foreword by Terry Brooks
  • Bradley Beaulieu (Song of Shattered Sands)
  • Jim Butcher (Dresden Files)
  • Rachel Caine
  • Sarah Beth Durst (The Queens of Renthia)
  • David Farland (Runelords)
  • Charlaine Harris
  • Mark Lawrence
  • Erin Lindsey (Bloodbound)
  • Seanan McGuire
  • Aidan Moher
  • Naomi Novik
  • Peter Orullian (Vault of Heaven)
  • J. A. Pitts
  • Anthony Ryan (Raven's Shadow)
  • Brandon Sanderson (Stormlight Archive)
  • Scott Sigler
  • Shawn Speakman (Annwn Cycle)
  • Michael J. Sullivan (The Legends of the First Empire)
  • Django Wexler
  • Janny Wufts (Wars of Light and Shadow)

With the help of New York Times best-selling authors as well as talented newcomers, Speakman has taken the platform Unfettered created to not only confront medical debt but to support the battle against one of our gravest illnesses. Unfettered II is a fantastic sequel anthology, but it is more than that; it is proof that we are stronger together than we are apart.

After all, isn't that what genre fiction is all about?

©2016 Shawn Speakman (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Unfettered II

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

This is a very nice fantasy anthology.

Speakman has been a very solid job collecting works from a number of accomplished authors. As is often the case the big names are the best. Here, Brandon Sanderson's excerpt from The Stormlight Archive "The Thrill" is the real standout if you are already acquainted with his other work.
"Day One" by Jim Butcher featuring a short story about Butters from The Dresden Files is a must read or listen to any fan of Dresden, Urban fantasy, or Gaming.

I think the Hidden Gem (so to speak) here is "And Men Will Mine the Mountain for Our Souls" by Seanan McGuire. I've never read what I can only describe as a first person introspective by a dragon before. But now that I have I can't imagine anybody could do better.

Not every short story in this or any Anthology is a home run. that said I think there's enough here to satisfy most people. And it's very well produced with a great cast. Even Nick Podell makes an appearance although James Marsters is more noticeably absent.

10 people found this helpful

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Mixed bag

This collection was incredibly diverse with a few stories unfinished, but the best stories made the whole purchase worth it! Great way to find a new favorite author or voice actor.

10 people found this helpful

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More good than bad on the whole

Ratings for each story individually;

Castle Coeurlieu by Naomi Novik 4 stars
A Slow Kill by Peter Orullian 4 stars
And Men Will Mine the Mountain for Our Souls by Seanan McGuire 1 star
Day One by Jim Butcher 5 stars
Brightwine in the Garden of Tsitsian Village by Bradley P. Beaulieu 5 stars
Aokigahara by John A. Pitts 2 stars
The Decoy by Janny Wurts 5 stars
The King’s Despatcher by David Farland 4 stars
Figures by Rachel Caine 1 star
The Red-Rimmed Eyes of Tóu Maˇ by Aidan Moher 3 stars
Magic Beans by Django Wexler 1 star
The Hedgewitch by Sarah Beth Durst 4 stars
Victim with a Capital V by Scott Sigler 2 stars
A Duel of Evils by Anthony Ryan 3 stars
The Raven by Erin Lindsey 4 stars
Bulletproof by Mark Lawrence 2 stars
The Gunnnie by Charlaine Harris 3 stars
Little Wren and the Big Forest by Michael J. Sullivan 2 stars
The Thrill by Brandon Sanderson 2 stars
The Last Flowers of the Spring Witch by Shawn Speakman 4 stars

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

beautiful, if sad.

This book has a thread of sadness throughout it's various stories, but it stands as a wonderful collection of beautiful.

3 people found this helpful

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Plenty of great stories

A motley collection of high fantasy and science fiction that stays modern and fresh. I hope Speakman doesn't need another tragedy in his life to give us book 3.

3 people found this helpful

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Great mix of stories

They can't all be gold but they were all at least good. There were a few gems. worth a credit since at least there's a lot to listen to.

2 people found this helpful

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Marvelous short stories and skilled narrators

Great collection of short stories and narrators from some of my favorite authors! And what a fantastic cause to support by all these authors.

1 person found this helpful

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A few stories detracted from the entire collection

Many of the short stories were amazing. Unfortunately a few of them were too detailed in their description of sex scenes. I did not purchase this book for graphic details. If language and slightly explicit scenes do not make you uncomfortable then you might really enjoy the stories.

3 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Smut Alert

An anthology of sci-fi short stories, what a great idea! But whose stupid idea was it to include, halfway through, an explicit sex scene? Why can't I just get good stories without an author descending to the gutter? Sleezy authors apparently do not have the creativity or intellect to craft quality story lines without publishing to the world their every sexual fantasy. And how do we readers who prefer wholesome entertainment get a warning so that we don't get dragged into the gutter too?

To be fair, the first 12 stories in the anthology were not smutty, although several were riddled with excessive profanity (another indication of weak intellect in the author). I don't know about the others, because I have now learned that the editor of the anthology cannot be trusted.

Audible: please develop a content warning system!!!

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Like the first (or any anthology), a mixed bag.

Overall: 3.5*
Just as I did with the first Unfettered, I’m going to review each story on its own. Overall, I enjoyed the first Unfettered more because there were more stories I could share with my family. This one has more language and more adult themes in sometimes very graphic ways. In general, great narration.

Castle Coeurlieu(by Naomi Novik)
5* Great start. Very imaginative, creative and unusual. Lovable characters, interesting scenes.

A Slow Kill (by Peter Orullian)
5* Might be my favorite story of this collection. I loved how the stories within the story create a nice tapestry. This story clearly took a fair amount of planning.

And Men Will Mine the Mountain of Our Souls (by Seanan McGuire)
3* Very creative, I loved the perspective, but the story just didn’t grab me. It should have as I’ve enjoyed other stories from a similar perspectives, but this one missed for me.

Day One (by Jim Butcher—Dresden Files)
4* For fans of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, this is a win. He is faithful to his almost—but not too much—humorous tone, that makes you feel like the storyteller is winking his eye as he spins his tale. It was fun to get a story within that universe from someone else’s perspective; while—of course—enjoying the cameo from the title character of the series. If you don’t know the series, it’s OK. The story is still fun, dark, and easy to follow.

Brightwine in the Garden of Tsitsian Village (by Bradley P. Beaulieu)
4* Not for the squeamish. It is refreshing to read fantasy set in a different world than medieval Europe (or a close parallel). I enjoyed the character and the plot. However, the juxtaposition between the main character and one of the supporting characters seems to have pushed a bit too hard.

Aokigahara (by John A. Pitts)
3* The story has great promise, and I wanted to like it more, but it felt like some of the transitions were rushed, not all the questions were satisfactorily answered, and the ending didn’t quite satisfy. It was a fun concept to explore, even if artificial worlds are becoming explored more often recently.

The Decoy (by Janny Wurts—Wars of Light and Shadow)
3.5* I remember enjoying this one much more the first time I heard it (about a year ago). This time I struggled to pay attention. I restarted it at least 3 times because I found my attention had drifted before getting 10 minutes in. Granted I was playing disc golf, but I always listen to books while playing. Anyway, some fun twists and unexpected decisions once the story gets going.

The King's Despatcher (by David Farland—Runelords)
4* This story left me curious about the larger world Farland has created. It clearly left a lot unanswered, and was almost more of an introduction to characters than a full story on its own. However, I’ve added the series to my wish-list, so it has served its purpose.

Figures (by Rachel Caine)
1.5* Though this story takes an interesting (though exaggerated) look at growing problems in the real world, as allegory should, it felt like it was using shock just for the sake of being shocking. The extra half-star came from it’s creative story-telling style (all from one side of a conversation), but that’s really all I could give it. The big twist just felt out of place, and another attempt at shock to make a point, but that really only was there to be shocking. It failed to drive the point home.

The Red-Rimmed Eyes of Tou Ma (by Aidan Moher)
4* This was an interesting tale also set in an other-than European Medieval setting. The magic system was interesting and the story had a satisfying resolution.

Magic Beans (by Django Wexler)
2* WARNING: This story is only a little less than an erotic story. The story itself is fun (thus the 2 stars), the writing is engaging, the characters are likable. If you want something like GOT, but a a lot lighter and more humorous, this one is for you. I prefer to not mix porn into my casual reading/listening. Definitely can’t share this one with my kids.

The Hedgewitch (by Sarah Beth Durst—The Queens of Renthia)
5* This is the other story that contends with being my favorite. Naturally, I have added the series to my wishlist. It is a great coming-of-age/genesis story that left me wanting to find out what happens. The world clearly has much more to offer, with the ever-present danger yielding great potential for many more stories.

Victim with a Capital V (by Scott Sigler)
3.5* I didn’t like this story much at first, but it grew on me. It felt like one of the characters in particular was presented as being awful through behavior what was more shocking than was actually necessary. Sure we need to establish character, but it needs to be believably bad, not just the worst thing we can think of. However, the underlying theme of the story is important. The post-apocalyptic setting allows Sigler to explore this subject in a way other fiction couldn’t

A Duel of Evils or The Fall of Kethia (by Anthony Ryan—Raven’s Shadow)
1* Perhaps if I was familiar with the bigger story, or knew some of the characters, this might have been more interesting. As it is, it seems to be presented as—and, indeeds reads like—a history report. Many cultures, countries, religions, battles, and generals are described in a very academic format. It reminded me of when I read The Histories by Herodotus or writings by Josephus, though those are interesting for the relevance to ancient history and to see some of the perspectives that ancients believed. This story/report, being set apart from anything I know, failed to interest me.

The Raven (by Erin Lindsey—Bloodbound)
4* This was a fascinating tragedy and coming-of-age story. I enjoyed the developing relationship of the brothers and think it would have made a great novella. In fact, that’s the only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars, I felt like I was missing too much of the story. I added the first book of this series to my wish list too, so hopefully I’ll be gratified then.

Bulletproof (by Mark Lawrence—Gunlaw)
3.5* This one was fun and worth listening to. But it did have a lot going on in a little bit of time, especially with a lot of races introduced. It’s kind of like jumping right into the cantina scene in SW Episode IV. You would have no context in which to place everything you’re experiencing. As the story goes, things do start to fall into place, and the story is intriguing.

The Gunnie (by Charlaine Harris)
5* This is an interesting cross-over between post-apocalyptic and Western (seems to be an easy and effective combo). This story proves you can have terrible villains who do terrible things without just using shock for shock’s sake. I love the protagonist and was excited to discover there is a series based on her. Another added to my wishlist.

Little Wren and the Big Forest (by Michael J. Sullivan)
4.5* I loved the Ririya Revelations so was excited to read this submission by Sullivan. Though it is in the same world of the books, it is not connected. It is a fun exploration of another event in the First Empire. When well done, as Sullivan does here, it is enjoyable to read a story from a new perspective. This one is from the perspective of a young girl. Both the adventure and the conclusion are believable and engaging.

The Thrill (by Brandon Sanderson—Stormlight Archive)
5* Sanderson is my favorite contemporary author as he rarely fails to provide incredible stories, fascinating characters, and impossible to guess twists and surprises. Be aware, that if you read this before reading Oathbringer, this story will be a little bit of a spoiler. Similar to the style of the Lost TV show, each book in the Archive explores the backstory of one of the principle characters. This submission is a collection of some of the scenes strategically revealed in Oathbringer. Of course, the novel goes much further and is a true work of art. This one does refer to a little bit of the fantastical elements of this world (shardblades, shardplate, and spren), but I don’t think anyone who is unfamiliar will be lost.

The Last Flowers of the Spring Witch (by Shawn Speakman)
4* This was just good fantasy. It didn’t really stand out to me as anything truly different or special, but sometimes that’s nice. I enjoyed the story and the characters. I don’t know if it’s the one I would have chosen to end with for that reason, but it was a safe choice.

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  • Elizabeth
  • 08-01-17

Very good Collection of small books

An amazing Collection of short stories that very Absorbing and will be worth your time

3 people found this helpful

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  • Rylan
  • 02-24-21

Django Wexler

Stop please. Just truly awful, this book is full of wonderful stories read by talented narrators, HOWEVER, your story truly sucks, did you even try?

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-03-19

it's a good mix bag

I listen to this while I worked I found it good to break it up into smaller parts. many good stories and it's a good way to find new and good authors chuckling out of your usual genres you'll listen to regularly. would recommend unfettered series too new listeners