Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Issue 14 - Review


   Well, fall's upon us and with it the fourteenth issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.  It's got three new stories, one okay, one good and one excellent.  There's also a pair of poems, one each by Jessica Salmonson and Barry King.  The banner art, "Griffin Slayer", is by returning artist, Jonas Jakobsson.  
   In "Day's End at the Three Eels" by Al Onia, Daryan the Bold, in the final leg of a night's downward spiral of debauchery, ends up in the Three Eels tavern.  There he spends the night talking to a crippled servant and a blind scholar.  It's a mostly calm story about atonement and hope for better things by a man whose whole life has been spent in warfare.  Not an action story, instead it's about the rootless mercenary coming to day's end.
   "A Song for the New King" by S. Boyd Taylor tells of the poet Archimandrus who, at long last, receives a commission to write a coronation poem for the new king.  For years he has written and struggled to become a great writer and at the age of fifty he has finally been recognized.  This very short (just above 600 words) is a well written but there's very little to it and nothing of the truly fantastic.
   "Death and Dignity" by Michael R. Fletcher is the sequel to "Death at the Pass" from the HFQ's October 2011 issue.  In that story, millenium dead Khraen, demonologist and general of the long vanished Palaq Taq empire, was raised as part of a vast army of undead summoned by the necromancer Leben.  At the end of that story Khraen was free of all obligations and commands for the first time in his existence.  In "Death and Dignity", Khraen has struck out to the north, hoping to find sanctuary.  Unfortunately, he's being hunted down by a wizard and his sorcerer servant.  
   Fletcher's world is an exciting one.  It's a place of huge magics and tremendous battles.  I enjoyed the descriptions of the numerous magic users in the world and their ancient enmities.  Fletcher pulls a few nifty surprises, particularly with Khraen's hunters.  You don't need to have read "Death at the Pass" but there's no reason to deprive yourself of an excellent adventure.  This is good stuff and I was pleased to read Fletcher may write more stories in this setting.  
   I never really feel qualified to comment too much about the poetry in HFQ.  There's no reason not to read them and I did like "The Swordswoman" by Jessica Salmonson and its depiction of the final, unimportant heroics of the title character.  In Barry King's "Shadakar" a robber lord is run down for his many moral failings by a woman he took captive.  I liked it less.
   So there you go, another issue of HFQ.  I wish these folks well and hope they can keep things going for some time.


  1. Thanks for the review!

    We got very close to putting in four stories this time, as one of our three was very short, but it didn't work out.

  2. You're quite welcome. You really create a great 'zine. There's always at least one story that really grabs and holds me.