Friday, October 30, 2015

The Thirteen Mercies, by Maria Dahvana Headley

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, November/December 2015; 5,335 words
Rating: 3, Good, ordinary, story

In a modern-day world that uses magic, a group of soldiers sentenced for war crimes struggle to make sense of their punishment.

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

Pro: We start with the soliders trapped, and we end with them "freed," although maybe "killed" is more accurate.

There seems to be a message that war destroy's men's souls. Presumably the reason the "Cleansing of Sins" spell destroys the soldiers is that they have nothing left but their sins.

Con: We never really understand what's going on. Presumably they sat there for seven years and only then did the crocodile start eating them? Hard to believe that in seven years no one violated orders and tried to leave the encampment. Hard to believe they still had rations after seven years.

A more serious contradiction is that the story talks about mutilating soldiers to keep them from casting spells. But these guys had very powerful magic, and yet one old lady was able to confine them.

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