Wednesday, March 19, 2008

RotS Reviews I

The first in a series of reviews for Return of the Sword.

Altar of the Moon- A story about the aftereffects of a sword of power and the person forced to wield it in order to save a kingdom. Just one problem, the burden of bearing the sword becomes unbearable and it won’t let itself be cast aside. This is a good emotional story with two characters that struggle with each other but are not technically enemies. Both protagonist and antagonist are sympathetic and the ending is written well. Two swords up.

The Wyrd of War- Bill Ward delivers an outstanding tale of dark magic and violent war. A doomed army defends against the mindless onslaught of an eldritch horde, twisted and corrupted by a mysterious evil. The thing that stands out immediately in this story is the use of language and mood. The hero faces impossible odds and is driven on by precious memories of a past denied him. It’s the kind of thing I was trying to do with Raven Kill and it’s done better. This could be my nomination for best of the book.

The Last Scream of Carnage- This is an interesting and odd story. The protagonist is definitely not heroic in any way. He’s simply arrogant and violent and looking for the next thing to kill. What makes for compelling reading here is the physical arrangement of the prose, often assembled in poetic forms. You get the feeling you’re reading something special and that must be why it is the feature story for the anthology. It is cleverly crafted but doesn’t leave you with a character to care about so the impact it makes is not personal but rather an appreciation of its clever crafting.


michael said...

Bill Ward's story is very strong. There is another I like, something about about crows or something, by a guy named Draper--- have you gotten that far yet?
BTW, will we see you this weekend?

Scriptorius Rex said...

You know, it's funny but I've read 'Raven Kill' so many stinkin' times I don't even know if it's any good anymore. I do have to admit that I'm particularly taken with the opening and closing 'knuckles of the Earth' line and can't stop gushing over it like a parent with pictures of a newborn.

This weekend is a crowded one for me with Easter and U2 3D at the Seattle Center IMAX. Right now I'm in Spokane on another sales trip and next week I head off for another Marine Corps exercise in Hawaii.

(That's a long way of saying no.)

Howard von Darkmoor said...

Nice commentary, Jeff - I like your story summaries. So much so, I think you're hired (at no pay) to write them for my next antho. ;)

Bill Ward said...

Thanks Jeff for the great review and Michael for the kind words on 'Wyrd.' I really liked both your pieces, and I know exactly what you mean about reading a story so many times you don't know if its any good--before I read your review and Bryan's I was feeling pretty low about 'Wyrd' for some reason, I've just fussed over it too many times I suppose. Thanks again guys.

Howard von Darkmoor said...

What, my praise ain't good 'nuff for ya, Mr. Ward?!?!