Tuesday, October 2, 2018

We Ragged Few, by Kate Marshall

★★★★★ Strong Characters, Intricate Plot, Lots of Surprises

(Dark Fantasy) When Reyna kills a rot hound, she knows her dead sister’s prophecy is coming true, and there’s not much time to convince the rest of the hold they all need to flee. (25,052 words; Time: 1h:23m)

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 261, published on .

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

Review: 2018.537 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The pieces of the plot work together like gears in a fine watch: there are lots of intricate moving pieces that work together beautifully. Everything that happens is foreshadowed, if you know what to look for. For example, although we don’t know why her world’s moon is “broken” we do know that the graylings’ moon was “unshattered,” so the prophesy that she would “stand again beneath an unbroken moon” had to mean that she’d find her people a place in the world of the graylings, through the narrow passage.

There’s plenty of thrills and excitement, all the way up to Reyna’s horrible sacrifice: carrying the grayling blood in her mouth even as it ate away her tongue. And then using it to destroy the beam that kept the people safe but prevented her from rescuing the dying grayling heart.

All of the characters are solid. Talgrun isn’t a villain; he’s doing what he thinks is best for his people. He and the Crone both believe their narrative, and it’s easy to see why: it’s a much more attractive view of the world.

The setting has a lot of depth to it as well. The history of fleeing from giants. The curse of the gods. The wide variety of people: gelds, mutes, free men/women. The different social roles. The existence of a larger community, with an option to select a king in an emergency. And the magic that protects everyone from the graylings.

Con: The language is a little overwrought. E.g. a crow “flung itself skyward like an insult to the clouds.” A little of that adds spice to a story, but there was too much of it for my taste.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 261)
Kate Marshall Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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