Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Briar and the Rose, by Marjorie M. Liu

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(High Fantasy) The Duelist serves the cold, beautiful Carmela but loves Rose. Separating Rose from Caramela is going to be the challenge of her life. (9,439 words; Time: 31m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Rich, Complex, and Rewarding

"The Briar and the Rose," by (edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Pro: This story is loosely based on Sleeping Beauty. Cute idea having Caramela occupy Rose’s body six days out of seven. Delicious irony that Caramela chose the Duelist precisely because she didn’t trust a male bodyguard to be around Rose, but she failed to realize the Duelist was a lesbian.

It’s gratifying that Rose and the Duelist work together to break Caramela’s spell. Rose, using the dreams she has as Caramela’s grip weakens, and the Duelist, using her authority to get answers from experts. Even then it’s not too easy: Rose only gets the name of the Emperor, and the Duelist needs to know to ask what happened to him and the names of his wife and daughter. They definitely earn their victory jointly.

The concluding line, that storytellers have a long reach, is a nice touch, for it was the story of the how she treated the Emperor that did Caramela in.

Con: We never get emotionally attached to either of the women, so their victory isn’t a big thrill. The Duelist is so powerful that there’s never any tension either.

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Marjorie M. Liu Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. I agree with the rating and the comments - Rich, Complex and Rewarding. It is a very clever take on Sleeping Beauty. I really liked this story.

    This story really engaged me on an emotional level right from the first few paragraphs.

    Its short-fall is that we never see the actual confrontation when Rose and the Duelist defeat Caramela's spell. We see what lead up to it, and the afterwards, but not the showdown itself.

    The Duelist is a powerful sword-fighter, not a magician. She knew she could not defeat Caramela with the sword, so there was the tension in how else she was going to do it.