“Thokmay” by Dennis Mombauer
Reviewed by Benjamin Wheeler
The thirty first issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly has four new stories.
“Thokmay” by Dennis Mombauer has us follow Thokmay who has been sent to find a traitor who took a mask from the cannibalistic monastery that raised him. Things become complicated as past, present and future fuse together and it becomes unclear who Thokmay is hunting. Thokmay is excellent at putting multiple personalities during multiple time perspectives down in writing. It gets confusing, but it comes down to being able to step through character perspective. Ultimately, though, the setting and little details like the cannibalism of the monks and how it is described works very well and carries the reader through to the end.
In “The Thing without Color” by Aidan Doyle, Akamiko is going to a sword mine to gather a one hundred year-old sword for the Mirror Emperor. Through Mrs. Yamamoto’s jealousy, a demon without color is released and Akamiko must make sure the Emperor gets his blade. This piece hits an ‘awesome old woman’ aesthetic quite well. The characters walk about with excellent gravity and the climax is paced excellently for a satisfying ending.
Francisco ‘El Moreno’ Lopez searches for gold no matter the cost in “Heart of the Tashyas” by Raphael Ordoñez. Set in Southwest North America, Lopez drives himself nearly to death performing deeds to impress the local natives enough to get information on any potential gold. Lopez is an excellent protagonist, full of character, action and personality. The characters of the Yacasole, Guerín, and Red Cloud all stand out. The Frenchman, Guerín, makes an excellent foil to Lopez and his madness is very nearly palpable. And the ‘thing’ at the end really punches the sense of wonder and adventure into a fantastic whole.
Finally, in “The Price of Mockery in Dallium” by James Rowe, a potter makes an ad hominem attack against a philosopher. For that, he is condemned to death but is given one chance to redeem himself. I love a good riddle game, and the author really sells the potter thinking it through. The mechanical philosopher is a great ‘mechanic’ to get the riddle across and keep the stakes interesting enough while the potter ponders the puzzle.