Beneath Ceaseless Skies #210, October 13, 2016

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies #210, October 13, 2016

A Cup of Comfort” by Stephanie Burgis

A Glass Kiss for the Little Prince of Pain” by Martin Cahill

Reviewed by Anne Crookshanks

Stephanie Burgis’ “A Cup of Comfort” is a soothing brew with notes of Rafael Sabatini. There is only one teahouse of note frequented by courtiers to the ancient Dragon Queen and her aging son. For decades, its patrons have cheerfully schemed their small schemes and sipped a remarkable blend—the more remarkable as tea is not native to the area and the kingdom has been cut off from contact with the outside world for decades. Charmed as they are by Florian the dryly humorous house manager, no one seems to find Trevanne’s isolation to be remarkable. It’s an enchanting situation, at least on the surface, until a distinguished visitor comes to claim her cup of comfort. With a smooth writing style, Ms. Burgis has a nice talent for creating a setting I would like to visit again.

A Glass Kiss for the Little Prince of Pain” begins where many a story ends, with what should be a climactic battle scene. Glass Kiss, for that is Armila’s Thoughtblade’s name and now more familiar to her than her own, is being held at the mercy of her teacher’s Thoughtblade, a man whose sword name is Black Rain. He knows he should kill her, and he has good reason. But Glass has something to show Rain in the Tangle—what they call the construct of personal memories. The remembrance she wants him to see discloses the reason she’s willing to face death tonight, as snow begins to cover them atop a dark tower. Glass and Rain live in a kingdom of cold and pain where kindness is weakness, and weakness must be eliminated. Even so, love and its soft promises can sometimes find a way in, and that is when the blades and their human wielders must seek out such frailties and destroy them. Martin Cahill doesn’t miss a maneuver in this pulse-pounding story of the trials of duty.

Anne Crookshanks is the nom de review of a librarian who studied anthropology at the college voted best choice for Hogwarts fans.