Sunday, March 10, 2019

Vīs Dēlendī, by Marie Brennan

★★★☆☆ Honorable Mention

(High Fantasy) The thirteen masters of the Academy meet to hear a mediocre student apply for the highest degree based on his claim that he can raise the dead. (4,756 words; Time: 15m)

"Vīs Dēlendī," by (edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas), appeared in issue 27, published on .

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

Review: 2019.177 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: It’s a fun tale in an interesting setting. Harrik faces difficult odds, given he’s trying to do something no one has ever done and that he hasn’t been an outstanding student—not even an outstandingly troublesome one.

His very name, “Neconnu,” seems to mean “unknown,” which is doubly appropriate when we reach the end of the story.

I got a kick out of how the masters reverted to scholar mode at the end, debating whether he’d earned any sort of degree or not, even as he lay there dead, and discussing what new knowledge had come from this experiment.

On a different note, there’s lots of fun with the names here. For example, I’m pretty sure the three degrees are: the power that knows (vīs sciendī), the power that changes (vīs mūtandī), and the power that creates (vīs faciendī). The title of the story means “the power that destroys.”

Con: There’s no real development of the characters. Harrik dies but we’re neither sad nor glad when it happens. He’s not evil—he’s just pathetic.

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