Friday, December 14, 2018

A Circle of Steel and Bone, by R.K. Duncan

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(Historical Fantasy) In 13th-Century Prussia, a commander of the Order of the Teutonic Knights hunts for a brutal murderer, who mutilates his victims and seems to target Christian knights. (7,626 words; Time: 25m)

"," by (edited by Scott H. Andrews), appeared in issue 267, published on .

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

Review: 2018.698 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The author really did his homework on the historical background for this one. I'm pretty sure the action takes place near modern-day RadzyΕ„ CheΕ‚miΕ„ski, Poland around 1240 AD during the Prussian Crusade just before the First Prussian Uprising. “The Order” is the Order of Teutonic Knights, and the “Sword Brothers” are the Livonian Brothers of the Sword.  Given the history, Meinrad is trying to manage a force that contains a semi-autonomous group that unsurprisingly challenges his authority.

The story has a reasonable amount of tension when Meinrad rides into the dark looking for the monster, but just as much when he struggles to control his unruly men. He's an awfully good guy--what a real Christian ought to be--and his attempts to be fair and just in an almost hopeless situation are admirable.

It’s gratifying at the end to see that the men who thought Meinrad was weak were very much mistaken. He’s as brave as any of them, most of whom shamefully run away when they see the monster plainly. It's his faith that sustains him and which ultimately makes him strong enough to defeat it.

Con: The ending is unsatisfying. I don’t see how his sacrifice traps the monster for more than the time it’ll take his men to pry his body free for burial.

Other Reviews: Search Web, Browse Review Sites (Issue 267)
R.K. Duncan Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

Follow RSR on Twitter, Facebook, RSS, or E-mail.

No comments (may contain spoilers):

Post a Comment (comment policy)