Spells of Wonder 5of5 Anthology

When sword and sorcery fail, only words remain.

Spells of Wonder Anthology

Dialogue focused scenes drive stories inward, emphasizing the character’s inner conflict.

A Matter of Life 3.5/5

By Cathy J. Deaubl

When a wounded soldier appears at her door, Raessa cannot turn him away. Tending to his wounds, she is reminded of another time, and another soldier.

Acting as a microcosm, the story attempts to simultaneously tell its humble story while also hinting at the larger conflicts that loom in the distance. The characters themselves are well done, if a little too easy to understand. Information is doled out organically, focusing on a character’s thoughts and feelings. Audiences are left to fill in the gaps for themselves, relying on scant details to guide them.

In the absence of a true antagonist, the story adopts a mellow tone. Dialogue becomes the mainstage of conflict, though while characters debate, the author leaves no room for doubt. The writing is artful, but the meaning is clear.

+Strong microcosm storytelling
*Mellow Tone
*Serious, moral focus


The Moon Who Loved the Man 3/5

By Robin W. Bailey

A young man, racked by grief, rides off in a vain attempt to escape his pain. Groping for some relief, he comes upon a beautiful sight, but even that reminds him of his loss, until a strange magic plants a seed of doubt. Driven by the question, he continues to search, forsaking all else in his quest for answers.

A series of litanies emulate the protagonist’s outlook, comparing everything to what he has lost, and always the same refrain, “never again”. The descriptions themselves are quite artful, but the repetitive nature of their meaning soon wears thin. Soon the protagonist wanders into the mystery that serves as the main conflict.

A strange calm settles over the middle, a mellow cycle of surprises and reflections, building towards an answer that surprised me, though in hindsight one might infer it from the clues provided. Opening with tragedy, the story carries audiences through the pains of grief and on to the new beginning that always waits on the other side.

+Strong Descriptions
*Mellow, serious tone
*Slow pacing


Last Quarrel 2.5/5

By Dorothy J. Heydt

A young warrior is struck down, but refuses to give in. Instead she finds another way to continue the fight.

The story opens at the tail end of a much larger conflict; focusing on the personal journey of one character, forced to watch from the fringes. Her self-imposed exile emphasizes the long and often grueling journey of the hero, the everyday struggles that offer little excitement or glory. Summaries dominate, emulating the monotony of routine, while a minimum of details and terse scenes tide audiences over until the plot picks up again. Not a bad story, but definitely a stark contrast against the intense epics and light-hearted adventures often found in fantasy.

*Slow, Mellow Narrative
*Summary focused
*A humble story within an epic backdrop


Crooked Corn 2.5/5

By Deborah Wheeler

When a warrior is captured and brought before the Duke for sentencing, her only hope lies in invoking an ancient rite. But it isn’t until she steps onto the field, blade in hand, that she begins to understand the nature of this challenge, and what she must do to overcome it.

The first half runs a little roughshod setting the stage, but once all the players are in place things settle down rather nicely. References to larger conflicts hearken back to traditional fantasy tropes, while the story itself cuts against them. Themes of benevolence and nature overshadow the action, driving the conflict inward. Clarity becomes the ultimate goal, bringing insights that feel a little heavy handed, but they bring the story to a close before the resolution wears thin.

*Mellow narrative
*Clear cut themes
-A little predictable


Next Time…
Codex Alera Series Review

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