Wednesday, January 3, 2018

An Aria for the Bloodlords, by Hannah Strom-Martin

Fortress by Dimitrije Miljus
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(High Fantasy) As a composer, D’Isle knows that the Bloodlords tightly control music because it can attract demons from the forest. He’s alarmed when his new prima donna starts improvising illegally. (10,063 words; Time: 33m)

Rating: ★★★★☆ Rises from a soft beginning to a crescendo.

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 242, published on .

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

Pro: The outcome is very satisfying: the maestro produces a true masterpiece, and, through it, the revolution succeeds. The Bloodlords come across as villains in several ways, starting with the Duc who can’t be bothered to remember D’Isle’s name, then the gamin they callously murder in the street, and finally the way they behave at the opera before the show starts. We feel pretty good about this revolution by the end of the story.

Likewise, the good guys give every sign of genuinely being good. For example, De Melian apologizes for casting a spell on D’Isle and leaves him free to make his own decision for his own reasons.

The story unfolds a bit at a time, never telling us too much at once, leaving us eager for each new element. Each of the five sections of the story has just enough tension to keep us on the edge of our seats, and the final section has a climax that no one could complain about.

The best-developed character is D’Isle, and by the time the fifth section opens, we’re confident he’s capable of making this happen and we understand his motivations. Well played!

Con: How are they going to cope with the demons in the forest? For all their faults, the Bloodlords and the Ministers kept them out of the town. No one seems to have worried about that problem at all.

D’Isle is really the only solid character. Even de Melian seems two-dimensional.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 242)
Hannah Strom-Martin Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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