Monday, September 7, 2015

The Ninth Seduction

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A goblin craftsman who makes things of beauty for his cruel elvish mistress learns to make her weapons from the mundane world. (6,700 words; Time: 22m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Recommended
Recommended By: SFRevu:4

"," by (edited by John Joseph Adams), appeared in issue 64, published on .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: Descriptions of the cruelty of the elves spares this from being a naive tale about how wonderful life was without technology.  The familiar symmetry of Raksar, who is ugly on the outside but love to create and enjoy beauty, and Castellerine Lynder, who is beautiful on the outside but causes only pain contrasts with the vessel from Earthie, which is honest in its ugliness.

Tordral's seduction of the whole realm dooms it to destruction--her vengeance is sweeping. But this is really Raksar's story, and at the end his love for beauty is all that matters to me. He had rather be a slave to beauty than a rich master over ugliness.

Con: The technology is way too advanced for 1449, when the mundane part of the story nominally takes place. 1889 would make more sense. But in that case, one would wonder why guns never made it from Earthie to Faery before this. Why no one in Faery at all seemed to know about them.

Perhaps more of a problem is that we don't really agree with Raksar. His world seems likely to be a better place when all the elves are gone and the goblins rule alone. It's hard to applaud his choice, even though we understand it.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. I agree with the rating. It is a very good story.

    Regards your review, the concept of a democracy where the rulers are elected by the population is generally unheard of in fantasy stories.

    1. Good point. The only example of anything close to a democracy in a high-fantasy story that I could come up with off the top of my head was the parliament in The Goblin Emperor, which had an elected chamber. The idea of subjugated people wanting their freedom comes up a bit more often, I think.