Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Sword of Destiny, by Matthew Hughes

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(Fantasy Adventure; Baldemar) Baldemar’s attempt to retrieve the Sword of Destiny for Thelerion goes awry, and rather than face his master empty-handed he flees—into even bigger trouble. (10,427 words; Time: 34m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Gripping, Surprising, and Amusing

Although this is part of a series, it can stand alone with no problems.

"The Sword of Destiny," by (edited by Gardner Dozois), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Pro: There’s quite a tangle of different plot lines here.
  • Baldemar just wants to get away from Thelerion and find a way to retire comfortably. 
  • Aumbraj simply wants to learn enough about the Sword of Destiny to get a paper published. 
  • The Duke wants to extend the spell that keeps him young and in power. 
  • The Sword itself wants to be reunited with Azzerath. 
Only the Duke fails to achieve his goal, but the interactions between these conflicting goals make the story a fun read and as a side-effect develop all the characters nicely.

There are all sorts of funny moments, such as when we learn that the motto on the Duke’s coins translates to “mine, all mine” or when Azzerath talks so sweetly to the sword that we suspect they’re lovers.

Con: We never form any emotional attachment to any of the characters. Accordingly, there’s no emotional release at Baldemar’s victory.

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Matthew Hughes Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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