Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sir Hereward and Mr. Fitz Go to War Again

Novelette by Garth Nix

A youngish-but-experienced knight/artillerist and his animated wooden puppet advisor travel a fantasy land looking for mercenary work. When they find a likely city, Hereward manages to offend an attractive-but-scarred officer and love interest and fight a duel with her. Then the duo discover something about the city they are visiting, forcing them to act in their secret, non-mercenary roles. This brings him into conflict with aforementioned potential love interest.

An extremely fun and exciting bit of fantasy, if a bit long. This brings a lot of the older fantasy short stories to mind, with hints of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, and maybe even a touch of Conan (Howard's sneaky, magic-fighting version, not the Governator). There is definitely more here than meets the eye, and while I'm not generally in love with series', I am looking forward to some more stories here. I like how much of the history is left implied, and although I did think leaving all the major revelations until the end was a bit off-putting, the fact that they were there shows some excellent world building and makes the whole thing more immersive into a very interesting fantasy land. A bit slow to start off, and a bit heavy on the big game-changing reveals toward the end, but this was an excellent work of fantasy, and didn't go the predictable, expected, pat ending I'd expected from a sword and sorcery work. Which I suppose is why I'm reminded of the old guys. I remember why I used to like this genre. 4 sorcerous puppets out of 5.

The reading could have been better, as a few words were pronounced oddly, but Mr. Tevis doesn't have a bad voice.

2007 Winner of the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Short Story
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