Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #54, November 2022
“The Stonemen’s Curse” by Tom Jolly.
“The Flame in the Bottle” by Howard Andrew Jones
“Swarm Time on Maruzar” by Dariel R. A. Quiogue
Reviewed by Chuck Rothman
Tom Jolly starts out the belated November issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly with “The Stoneman’s Curse,” where Markus, a thief by trade, discovers a village where everyone has been turned to stone and can only move when someone was watching them. He is convinced to try to remove the curse by finding the spellbook used by a witch. The result is a first-class adventure where Markus can show off his cunning and where the results don’t come easily. The concept of the Stonemen is a strong one—sort of the opposite of Doctor Who’s Weeping Angels—and Jolly uses it to very good effect.
“The Flame in the Bottle” by Howard Andrew Jones is set in a fantasy version of the middle east, where the protagonist is something of a knight-errant, taking on tasks for pay. This time, a general asks him to track down a collection of bottles created by a djinn that hold memories, including one of the general’s own that he wants to use to discover what he no longer remembers. This is something of a detective story as we watch the protagonist trying to figure out how to intercept the bottle. I also liked the setting; it was refreshing to see a fantasy set in a location less often used.
Dariel R. A. Quiogue contributes “Swarm Time on Mauzar,” which follows Lakann’s escape from being a slave in the mines of Mauzar to the city of Raadnar, just in time for swarm time, when thousands of insect-like creatures attack, their larvae eating anyone in their path. He goes to work with the Lady Arianne to form a last-ditch attempt to protect the city. Some very strong action scenes and I liked the characters. My only quibble is that this reads more like an excerpt from a novel than a standalone story.
There are only three stories in the issue, but they are all choice. The magazine definitely lives up to its title of providing heroic fantasy, and first-class versions of the genre.
Chuck Rothman’s novels Staroamer’s Fate and Syron’s Fate are available from Fantastic Books.