These short stories are listed as “0.6 and 3.5” in the series, so they are at different points in the larger story. For the first one, this doesn’t really mean much. Atticus is still in Arizona, and it’s before he picks up an apprentice, but beyond that the story is the same as you would expect from the series. The second one is a little different. It still fits into the world, but it’s the first short story I’ve read from Granuaile’s perspective. It was neat, but it’s always a bit disconcerting to switch between the two perspectives. (I like it, because it’s always easy to tell Atticus and Granuaile apart, but jumping from third person past to first person present isn’t always easy.)
After listening to the audiobook of these shorts, I went back and re-listened to HOUNDED. It was amusing to hear teeny bits of the short story referenced in the first novel. (I’m not sure which was written first, and it really doesn’t matter. It’s fun either way.) In fact, if you want to test out the series, “Kaibab Unbound” might be a good way to do so. I think it is only available in the two short story bundle, though, so if you do use this as an introduction to the series, be aware that Granuaile isn’t the narrator for much of the series. Just parts here and there.
Speaking of her short story… that one’s called “A Test of Mettle.” I did enjoy getting to hear about this test she goes through while Atticus is off being dumb in book 3. We do get to hear references to this story later in the main series, but no details. (I forget exactly where, though.) It’s good to hear the whole thing. This second story does tie in much closer to the main series, and (probably as a result) feels less complete on its own. Don’t get me wrong – it is a complete short story. However, it relies much more heavily on the existing series than the first story did.
Would I recommend getting this set? Probably. Fans of the series will enjoy these installments. New readers will get a good taste of what the series is about. On the other hand, they are not required to enjoy the books. I would suggest them as something to read while you wait for the next novel to be released, mostly. Also, the narrated version is good. If you want to have them read to you, Luke Daniels does the great job we’ve come to expect. For shorts, though, some people would prefer to spend the smaller amount for the ebook version rather than the couple dollars more for the audio. As for me, I got the audio. Why not? It was a fun listen.
Rating: 4 stars