Saturday, April 14, 2012

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Issue 12 - review

   Nothing but good stuff in this season's issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.  Of three stories, two qualify as straight S&S.  The third, while very good and original doesn't fit into the genre.  All three poems can be read from a S&S perspective though that doesn't really matter.  The cover art is by Mariusz Gandzel.
In "Crown of Sorrows" by Seamus Bayne, the mercenary Ordwin is forced to serve as a pawn in King Theisius' great game with King Archese.  For decades the two rulers have struggled for control of seven magical items, possession of each garnering its holder a point.  If at any time one player has twice as many points as the other he becomes the winner.  Theisius has contrived a plan of exquisite sadism and to achieve it needs a warrior the like of Ordwin.  Unable to resist the power of Theisius, Ordwin sets off for the lair of the beast king in order to retrieve a magical golden crown.  It's a well done quest tale with an ending that could well serve as the jumping off point for a much longer story.
   "Rhindor's Remission" by Russell Miller is of that rare breed; a genuinely funny story.  Rhindor is an aged wizard burdened with an incompetent apprentice and a harridan of a housekeeper.  His body's falling to bits and the intact parts aren't working right anymore.  When a old foe, Mortigar, confronts him exclaiming he now possesses the Staff of Dar'Tith and is unbeatable, Rhindor informs him a shovel would've sufficed.  I like this one very much and it served as a nice respite from all the blood and thunder I've been reading over the past week.
   As I said, the last tale, Spencer Ellsworth's "Blade and Branch and Stone" isn't S&S.  What it is though is a very good story set in a blackpowder and magic world.  It's set in the days following the end of a war between men and the Fei, a race of treelike beings.  By far the most ambitious story in the issue and the most original, Ellsworth's created a strange and intriguing world.
   The three poems are all enjoyable.  "Burying the Ploughshare" by Bethany Powell is about why a boy needs to pick up his father's sword.  "Sidhe-Song" by Phil Emery, redolent of Celtic gloom, tells of Connor and an elven-woman.   Finally, "Legend" by Colleen Anderson is memorializes the fading days of a mighty creature.
   HFQ #12's an solid success.  It's free to read so there's no reason you're not doing so right now.

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