Okay issue of Swords and Sorcery Magazine online this month. The first story, clearly S&S, is "Royal Steel" by Leigh Kimmel. The second, clearly not, is "There Might Be Giants" by David Turnbull.
"Royal Steel" is set in a city that once served as the summer capital of the late King Suslan. Years ago he was slain by the evil sorcerer (as they too often are, called here a diabolist) Vorgun. In the wake of the kingdom's conquest, Suslan's sword, Steelheart, vanished. The royal line also appears to have died out with Suslan. Unfortunately only someone of royal blood can safely kill a diabolist without loosing a plague of demons upon his death.
Which is where the protagonist, Ashken, comes in. Selling meat from a cart in the street with her grandfather, she runs afoul of Vorgun's soldiers. Fleeing from them she encounters strange forces and becomes a player in events beyond her normal worries.
The story's short and predictable. However, I like the Ukrainian/Caucasus touches Kimmel used in sketching her tale's world. While they don't elevate "Royal Steel" to anywhere special, they do help the story feel a little more realized than most generic S&S does.
David Turnbull's story, "There Might Be Giants", is an odd concoction that mixes politics, fable and dysfunctional family dynamics. While depicting the aftermath of a people's rebellion by Tell Eulenspiegel in fantastic-Germanic setting, it's no S&S. What it is is a well done tale of seduction (non-sexual) between a jailer's son and a man named Jack imprisoned for misleading the "people" into believing there where giants threatening the land and they needed killing. Which, of course, only Jack could do and only for a price.
Swords and Sorcery Magazine is a new publication offering low prices for stories so the quality's still evolving. Still, it's another venue for new stories and hopefully Curtis Ellett, the editor, will be able to keep it going and keep bringing it up to better and better levels.