Friday, October 16, 2009

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly - Issue 2

“The Hand of Afaz” by Euan Harvey – Farid apprehends Hasan, who is accused of patricide. Hasan tells Farid that he is innocent, but Farid doesn’t want to believe his testimony, even though he can tell that Farid isn’t lying. Farid decides to investigate the matter further, trying to understand how to best serve Afaz and his superior without bringing shame to their House.

I liked the protagonist’s inner struggle through the story, and how he changes over time. Well written and engaging. I’d like to read more stories about Farid.

“Monster in the Mountains” by William Gerke – A man with a monstrous appearance named Gowther seeks shelter from a winter storm with a farmer and his family. Repulsed by his visage, they order Gowther to stay in the attached barn. During the night, the farmer tries to kill Gowther, and though Gowther is peerless in strength, he struggles against the farmer. After the fight, he learns that something on the mountain possesses the farmer, so Gowther departs from the house to seek the source of evil.

This was my favorite story in this issue. The details were vivid; I felt like I was there. Nice tension towards the end of the story to build up to the climax.

“The Waking of Angantyr” by Marie Brennan – Haunted and pestered by spirits of murdered men, Hervor seeks to silence their voices by traveling to their gravesite. Through the use of dark arts, she’s able to communicate openly with them at last to find out how she might finally be rid of them. The answer from the men’s leader, Angantyr, confronts her with a difficult reality and a path towards doom.

This tale is a retelling of an Old Norse poem (from the Poetic Edda). I might have liked it more if it had continued; at the point that the story ended, too little had been concluded. Likely this would have been difficult to do while staying somewhat true to the original poem, but I didn’t feel like there was enough plot churning with this one.

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