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Fantasy Short Stories: Issue 1

Fantasy Short Stories: Issue 1
Fantasy Short Stories
Fantasy Short Stories is looking for First English Language serial rights, which means they get to publish it first before it appears anywhere else. Also, they have decided that not to accept anything other than short stories (i.e. no serializations of novels, reviews, non-fiction, artwork etc.)

Fantasy Short Stories Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Stephen M. Davis

This first issue is an interesting, albeit uneven, debut. The two best stories are undoubtedly Noeleen Kavanagh's "The Pivot" and C.L. Holland's story "The Empty Dark."

In "The Pivot," a young boy, Caill, with a talent for reading the emotions of others provides brief refuge to another boy -- the young king Clogher, whose clothes come with ominous splashes of mud and blood. The pivot in the story concerns the manner in which Caill moves from being a mostly prospectless child to becoming the Peasant Lord, empowered by the king to pass judgement even upon the kingdom's lords themselves. And that pivot is a matter of mere moments in which Caill senses a dangerous rival to Clogher for the throne, thus potentially saving Clogher's life a second time in the space of a day.

In "The Empty Dark," the magician Leveri must tax himself to the fullest in order to find and save his traveling companion Korix, a thief with a thief's penchant for finding trouble. Certain complications add interest to the tale. We know early on, for instance, that Leveri could simply use a magic amulet to travel elsewhere alone, and yet chooses to spend his power instead in tracking down his companion. And we learn that this power is indeed a finite resource. This is not a magician capable of unlimited manipulations of the natural order. At the end, when he meets the "empty dark" in the form of Arith Velaster, he must strive with Korix to defeat that evil which preys on the fears of men. For Korix, a man from a world where the three suns never set together, that fear is of the dark, a condition which the people of Korix's world believe will herald the unleashing of demons.

Other stories in the first issue are sometimes interesting but either feel a bit too trite to fully resonate, or don't have quite enough clarity to satisfy the reader. The first story of the collection, for instance, has some interesting detail concerning a recent battle between men and elves, but there's a certain frustrating ambiguity to it. We understand at the end that the encounter Oberon, a warrior, is going off to have with his king is going to be a decidedly unpleasant one, but we don't know quite enough about the elves to know whether the outcome we anticipate is fully warranted. And the final story, "Sparrows Falling," has some lovely writing in it, with an author who unsurprisingly lists lyric poetry as an area of creative interest. Its downfall is that it feels like there is a plot at work to which the reader is never quite made privy. We know there is a conflict between Lord Craven and his lady, Maaike Lorien, but we never really grasp what the conflict is, though we do understand at the end that Lord Craven's magic is necromantic, while Lorien is blessed for providing the least fortunate in the surrounding villages with her kindest work.

Copyright © 2012 Stephen M. Davis

Steve Davis is a Visiting Professor of English with Devry University.

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