Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #34, November 2017

Note: This post was imported from an old content-management system, so please excuse any inconsistencies in formatting.

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #34, November 2017

“Crazy Snake and the Demons of Ometepe” by Eric Atkisson

“Hunger’s End” by Scott Shank
“Dragon in Amber” by Patrice Sarath

Reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf

Readers can enjoy three tales of peril in worlds that never were in this issue of the online magazine of fantastic adventures.

“Crazy Snake and the Demons of Ometepe” by Eric Atkisson is the latest in a series about a Comanche warrior battling supernatural evil throughout the Americas. The story alternates chapters set in Comanche territory in 1845 and Nicaragua in 1857. As a teenager, Crazy Snake sets out on his first raid against white men, leading to both victory and tragedy. As an adult, he and his companions from previous adventures battle an American sorcerer and the monsters he summons from another dimension. (History buffs will notice that the evil wizard is a fantasy version of William Walker, who invaded Nicaragua with a private army and briefly ruled the nation until overthrown by rebels.) The author makes good use of a real setting, an island in Lake Nicaragua with two volcanoes. This action-packed tale is an interesting combination of alternate history, sword and sorcery, and eldritch horror.

“Hunger’s End” by Scott Shank takes place in a world where a supernatural forest is taking over human cities, driving the inhabitants away. Two soldiers leave an outpost on the edge of the forest when supplies fail to arrive. Lost in the woods and facing starvation, they come upon the ruins of an ancient abbey, inhabited by one old man. This is a moody tale of violence and desperation, which reads like dark fantasy.

Appropriately, a dragon is the protagonist and narrator of “Dragon in Amber” by Patrice Sarath. Held prisoner by human magic for many years, he finds an opportunity for freedom when the son of the man who captured him proposes a bargain. If the dragon helps the human army defeat their enemies, the man will lift the spell. The main appeal of this story is the rich characterization of the dragon and the man. The dragon is wise, sly, cynical, and proud. The man is cowardly and full of doubt, but proves to be clever and resourceful when danger threatens. The way in which these two allies and antagonists relate to each other is sure to entertain the reader.

Victoria Silverwolf is not heroic.