Beneath Ceaseless Skies #65, March 24, 2011

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies #65, March 24, 2011

“Love, Resurrected” by Cat Rambo
“Playing for Amarante” by A.B. Treadwell

Reviewed by Jo-Anne Odell

In “Love, Resurrected” by Cat Rambo, even death can’t release General Aife Crofadottir from her service to the sorcerer Balthus. What passes for her life is dreary. Her body falls apart, while the only result of her past success is death and decay, both of the people and the land. She finds pleasure in bringing a worthy opponent to his knees, and yet one, the Falcon, remains aloof. When she finally discovers the secret to his success, the knowledge brings with it bigger problems.

This is another of those tales of woe in which the heroine wanders about, wringing her hands while being abused by the nasty men. No wonder they took advantage; this girl has ‘victim’ written all over her. I didn’t find her credible as either a military leader or a strategist.

“Playing for Amarante” by A.B. Treadwell sets its stage in eighteenth-century Paris. Monsieur Persèe Durand is a rising star, a player of the armonica. He’s a man of such talent he’s in high demand, both in the opera house and the private salons of the aristocracy. When he first sees Amarante, he’s captivated, and not only by her beauty. Though he’d have sworn he’d never seen her before, he knows her name. He believes he sees her die, but she leaves no body.

At the end of Durand’s next performance, he sees his own image, bloodied and torn, behind the audience. As Durand finishes his piece, he watches himself fall. When Durand checks, his double is gone without trace, as if he never existed.

Durand comes to suspect the armonica plays more than just music, that its mesmerizing qualities transcend normal space and time, and might be dangerous. When his patron goes mad, he discovers the truth.

This story sets its mood with ethereal grace. It pulled me along effortlessly. Normally, this style, where the main character is passive and doesn’t know what’s happening, isn’t my favorite. Treadwell overcomes my objections. I’ve rarely reviewed a tale where I was as impressed by the talent and craftsmanship.