Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Friends of Masquelayne the Incomparable, by Matthew Hughes

★★★★☆ A Different Kind of Magical Contest

(Dark Fantasy Adventure) Masquelayne knows he’s the best magician around, so when he loses a magical contest to an upstart, he’s determined to have his revenge. (10,204 words; Time: 34m)

"The Friends of Masquelayne the Incomparable," by (edited by Gardner Dozois), appeared in (RSR review), published on by .

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

Review: 2018.640 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Masquelayne is so over-the-top that it’s fun (in a sick sort of way) to watch him operate. The way he works himself up into a fit of righteous indignation before committing each unjustified assault on his fellow mages is just perfect.

Poddlebrim is equally entertaining as the absent-minded researcher who’s too focused on his work to realize Masquelayne is after him. It's almost a measure of how powerful he really is that he can afford to ignore the threat Masquelayne poses.

The ending is beautiful in that it’s so fitting. Poddlebrim continues not to know (or to pretend not to know) that Masquelayne was after him; he’s innocently nursing him back to health. What will do Masquelayne in is the “friends” Poddlebrim thinks have been asking about him—the people he wronged who’re now freed from his spells and doubtless eager for revenge. And it ends in exactly the right place; the final outcome is better imagined than described.

Con: Masquelayne is so evil that it’s painful reading about the awful things he did to people who seemed to be perfectly nice. He’s the only fully developed character, so there’s no one to root for.

We have no clue that the argent and sable magic could steal memories or retroactively undo spells until it happens.

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