Beneath Ceaseless Skies #140, February 6, 2014
Reviewed by Chuck Rothman
Beneath Ceaseless Skies starts out its February offerings with two stories about war and its aftermath.
“The Face in the Window” follows Taniel, a mage with a rather unusual source of his power: he snorts gunpowder to give him his magic talents. These include the ability to guide a bullet to its target from long distances. Taniel gets caught up in a war where his talent certainly is needed, especially since the other side has a “Privileged,” sort of an unstoppable super mage. Brian McClellan‘s story is pure adventure, and Taniel has to overcome a surprise attack, a trackless swamp, and much else, with a little help from a mysterious young savage woman he picks up on the way. Other than the powder mage, there’s nothing particularly innovative, but the characters are strongly drawn and the adventure and action doesn’t slow down.
Alec Austin contributes “Atonement,” showing the aftermath of atrocity. In a world where ghosts are real, Zrana is returning to the city of Dahar, where she took part in the massacre of all its inhabitants on the orders of her queen to follow and stop General Tughar from removing the ghosts, which would leave the kingdom open to invasion. I didn’t find the story particularly engaging and its main goal is to show what the General had in mind. The characters seemed a bit murky overall.