Trio of Sorcery (Diana Tregarde, #0.5) - Mercedes Lackey This book consists of three novellas. Two of them are about the heroines Lackey wrote about before: Diana Tregarde and Jennifer Talldeer. The last one is an original story. All three are fairly weak.

Arcanum 101 – a Diana Tregarde story

This story starts with a huge and unnecessary info dump. To compound this problem, there are too many involved explanations later in the story – as if the readers must be initialized into the genre of fantasy. As if they don’t already know about magic. This aspect of the tale really ticked me off.
As for the plot: during her college days, Di and a bunch of her student friends help the police to find a kidnapped girl. The kidnapper has magical powers, so Di must use her own magic to find and defeat him. And all the time she is doing magic, Di is whining, feeling sorry for herself because she is a Guardian, too lonely, and must do magical stuff. She really annoyed me, or perhaps the author did.
This novella has a feel of being written by an inexperienced writer and never revised. Maybe it was exactly that. Maybe the author just unearthed one of her earliest, never-published stories and included it in this anthology without further editing. I don’t know, of course, I’m guessing, but the story is rather flaccid. 1 star.

Drums – a Jennifer Talldeer story

This story is better than the first. No info dump, no extraneous explanations. A malevolent ghost is threatening a young woman, and the Native American PI Jennifer Talldeer banishes the ghost after some violence-edged ado and magical brandishing. My objections: despite her proclaimed magical powers and Indian Medicine knowledge, Jennifer can’t really fight off the nasty ghost. He is too strong for her, so she uses all the help she can get, including a couple of god-spirits of Native American mythology. I suppose, you don’t have to be a magician to let a couple of friendly godlings deal with one wicked ghost. You just should know how to ask them nicely – and Jennifer didn’t even do that. Her boyfriend brought the helpful deities to her. It smacks too much of deux ex machina to be satisfactory. 2 stars.

Ghost in the Machine

Too much quasi-computer talk. For a former computer programmer (me), it didn’t sound authentic. Granted, I’ve never programmed games; I worked mostly with accounting software, but even so, all the techno-babble seemed a bit off, as if a writer unfamiliar with computer programming decided to write about magic interfering with computer codes. The story is entertaining though, the best of the three: a techno-witch destroying a mythical villain who has taken possession of an online computer game. The pace is fast, and the charmingly arrogant character of the digital witch and hacker extraordinaire Ell made me smile. 2.5 stars.

The average: 2 stars.