Reviewed by Cyd Athens
This issue presents a well-matched pair of stories featuring female military leaders.
“Our Fire, Given Freely” by Seth Dickinson
Rider Bray, a şövalye, is sent to visit Marantic Lind, a traveling sage, to learn and report back on his unorthodox methods that might help Queen Hau Nidane win a war she is losing. Bray is made strong by life fire given to the queen in tribute, and passed on to her. Unfortunately, those giving their fire are left destitute and desperate. Lind’s methods revolve around pooling the fire and using it instead of giving it to the queen, a process called forming a Flock. To demonstrate how it works, Lind and a ragtag band of quarry workers engage in a battle with an enemy şövalye. They win. Bray is intrigued as the implications for not only how wars are fought, but also how Walkers and Riders, long-time enemies, either work or fail together. An interesting tale with an ending that is not cut and dried.
“Women in Sandstone” by Alex Dally MacFarlane
In her quest to ensure her longevity and place in history, General Berenike seeks out temples at which to make offerings. Her reasons for the journey are interwoven with her temple visits. The first temple is guarded by the embodiment of the South-East Wind. There, Berenike carves a sandstone figurine that becomes the clapper to a bell she casts from silver coins that bear an image of her and her King. Then, Berenike visits other temples. At one, she finds nothing but an abandoned building and an embodied wind guardian. Despite warnings from the wind, she overcomes her fear and becomes a wind herself. A decent story about a search for longevity.
Cyd Athens indulges a speculative fiction addiction from 45ø 29 30.65 N, 122ø 35 30.91 W. Comments on Cyd’s reviews are welcome at www.cydathens.net.