Sunday, August 16, 2020

The Ruby of the Summer King, by Mari Ness

★★★★☆ Hauntingly Beautiful

(Fairy Tale) The Summer King wants to court the Winter Queen, even though everyone warns him that it’s a long and perilous journey, for summer and winter aren’t meant to be together. (4,749 words; Time: 15m)

"," by (edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas), appeared in issue 35, published on .

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

Review: 2020.390 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: The best thing about this story is the beautiful prose and the haunting imagery. Personifying the seasons and even the months makes for a story that works on two levels. E.g. November can visit the court of Summer and the court of Winter, but February only visits Winter, and August only visits Summer.

On the surface, it’s a tale of a hopeless love. The King is very foolish to risk his realm by taking such a journey, and the consequences are just as bad as we’d imagine them to be. But a world without summer ends up hurting everyone, and even though November is a bit of a thief, he has no trouble getting support to try to bring the king back.

You can also read this as a metaphor for a hopeless love affair. The King is changed forever by his experience. He’s visibly aged and, one hopes, matured. And yet even though it all went wrong, he has still left an enduring bit of warmth with the Queen.

Con: I kept wondering why no one in either court seemed to realize that the king and queen are going to be like poison to each other.

Although the characters are humanized forms of the seasons and months, they’re not humanized enough that any of them is particularly easy to identify with.

Other Reviews: Search Web
Mari Ness Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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

2 comments (may contain spoilers):

  1. So August can only visit the Summer court, as if the world had only a Northern Hemisphere... (says he, in August, with the heat turned on while it snows further south in the Patagonia)

    1. Es muy raro que un mundo de fantasía sea redondo. En el "Belgariad," había hemísferios con estaciónes invertidos, pero esa es la única cuento así que recuerdo. Normalmente, ¡es como si tales mundos fueran planos!