Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Case of the Somewhat Mythic Sword, by Garth Nix


(Sherlock Holmes Pastiche; Magnus Holmes) Despite laboring under an awful curse, Sherlock Holmes’s young second cousin, Magnus, assists in cases that involve the supernatural, such as a spectral knight wielding a legendary sword. (6,815 words; Time: 22m)

Recommended By: πŸ‘STomaino+1 (Q&A)

Note: Readers who like this tale will be interested to know that it’s a sequel to the author’s 2011 story, “The Curious Case of the Moondawn Daffodils Murder,” which is available in the author’s collection “To Hold the Bridge.” There’s no need to read that story before this one (neither has spoilers for the other), but it’s entertaining in its own right.

"," by (edited by Ellen Datlow), published on by .

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

Review: 2020.077 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The story definitely rewards Homes fans as well as King Arthur fans, being rich with references to both stories.

Magnus is entertaining, although he’s a lot more sedate than in the previous story, in which he seems to have ADHD. Part of the fun of the story is learning more about his curse. Even if you did read Moondawn Daffodils you learn more about the background in this tale.

The omniscient narrator is quite different from the first-person style of the original Holmes stories, but given the nature of this story, it works quite well.

Con: The ending feels a bit rushed. The casual way Magnus and Susan burn the pub down and then flee expecting to get away with it bothered me. This callousness makes it hard to really identify with either of them.

Likewise, Mrs. Davies is an unsatisfying villain in that she barely makes an appearance before the transformed Magnus flattens her, meeting with zero resistance. The whole thing feels too easy.

On a minor note, the timeline is a bit mixed up. William I died in 1087, but the Cistercians didn’t come to England until 1128, so they couldn’t have had a monastery in London in his time. King Arthur would have been no later than 650 AD, but Isaac I Komnenos died in 1060, so Sir Bedivere couldn’t have had one of his coins.

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2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. This was a good story, and can be read independently of any other associated story. I give it 4 stars myself.

    It also won the Stabby Award for Short Fiction in 2020, and is worth reading for award consideration.