and WORK as a novel and that's mega cool :) By page 360, the main city that 3/4 of the book had taken place in, Crotalorn, was just a memory and where it stood was now just the Ash Plains... Tribes had risen and fallen and the Sons of Cludd, while still around, are more of a joke than a threat. Women take turns playing games where they show their naked bodies to the Sons to fluster them.
And amazingly, one story involved a fearsome character known as the Archimage- incredibly powerful, and childcatchers gathered children to give to the Archimage... it was thought he Ate Their Souls, for they came out... blank and docile after.
One of the characters is childcatcher. When he was young, to evade childcatchers himself, he betrayed the lost children he had been staying with... became a childcatcher as his friends went to the Archimage.
Later, he has to visit the Archimage! And he discovers that the Archimage DOES, in fact, take the souls of children... but not to eat...
The Archimage is the ONLY decent character in the entire collection of characters- aside from Dr. Porfat who was murdered and his remains devoured by ghouls halfway through the book. When the childcatcher is in the home of the Archimage, he is actually visited by the souls of his friends whom he betrayed to the Archimage! And the Archimage didn't take children's souls to enslave or eat them- he was SAVING them from the cruelty of the world! Yes, through death, but the fates of 99.9% of them would have been terrible death anyway.
This was an INCREDIBLE book/collection of short stories that intertwine and make a WONDERFUL tale. Extremely evocative of the older tales by Robert Howard, Dunsany, Lovecraft and others with a VERY modern sensibility!