I know what my guess is, but more importantly this is symptomatic of the slow death of fantasy literature. Everybody wants to be Martin, nobody wants to be Tolkien, Burroughs, Howard, Merritt, Leiber, Vance, et al. Much as I enjoy Tolkien’s work, there was only one of him, and all the imitators (slavish or otherwise) since his debut have been a little bit worse. Or a lot worse, depending on who we’re talking about. People are hungry for short, punchy, weird, out there, batshit insane, heroic fantasy adventure fiction. This anthology is not going to give it to them.
Instead what it appears to be actively doing is just giving them enough of what they’re after to make them want more, but letting them know that what they’re after is only a small part of the genre in question. No, the REAL point of fantasy literature is boring think pieces that go nowhere and subversions of heroic tropes so that the characters you’ve always loved were really the bad guys all along! There are no more exemplars, no heroes, no true adventure, no true monsters, no true fun in this genre.
RW regards George R.R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire as a salutary example, but of what not to do as a writer.
The series contains so many bad examples for a writer to learn from!
Don’t write such long books that don’t go anywhere. Don’t take years between books. Don’t kill off all your likable characters and even your charismatic villains. Don’t introduce yet another far-flung subplot until you’ve wrapped up at least a few others. Don’t waste half a book with your most popular character making a river journey. Don’t abandon the main plot so your characters can go on meandering side trips that fail to advance the story.
Basically, RW thinks that when in doubt, a writer should look at A Song Of Fire And Ice, and then do the opposite of whatever it did.