You may remember me reading a short story earlier this year called Nine Parts Bluster. I quite enjoyed it. It was quite a well put together piece of dark fantasy, where the main character, one Senesio Suleiman Zhao, master monster hunter and wearer of ridiculous beaver hats, ‘helped’ some villagers rid themselves of an unfortunate wendiguar problem.
Now it’s part of this awesome little anthology.
(I received a copy of this anthology of stories from the author in exchange for my honest review of it!)
Nine Parts Bluster and Other Stories is a potent mix of madness, myth, and murder, with a sprinkling of black humor.
A monster of legend stalks the shadows, surrounded by rumors as abundant as the slashed and torn corpses it leaves in its wake. It’s wonderful news, assuming you’re Senesio Suleiman Zhao, famed monster hunter, Champion of the People, and murderous egotist.
It’s the place of lesser men to fear the dead as Harper conquers the scared mountains of the ancestors. Honor be damned, there’s glory at stake.
Jao has always tried to do right by others, but the time for that is long past. When his brother and companions are murdered by bandits, there’s only one recourse: a feast.
A classical education at the imperial capital has taught Chen a great many things. What it hasn’t taught him, however, is to lie, cheat, and steal. A shame, then, that he’s working for the biggest liar, cheat, and thief this side of the empire.
“I find I’ve an aversion to situations that would kill a man.”
“Always found them situations pay the best.”
In this anthology, we’ve got four short stories. Obviously Nine Parts Bluster is one of them, but since I’ve already reviewed that one, I’ll go ahead and skip my review of it, and instead link to my actual review of that story, and say that when it came to this anthology, this story really set the tone real quick. Still a really enjoyable story. Dark and unexpected at times, with some strong storytelling skills put on display.
The other 3 stories we get here are In the Garden of Giants, Kiss of the White Mistress, and Respectable Work.
I’ll just go in order with what I thought of them, because that’s easier:
In the Garden of Giants tells the story of a group on explorers on a mission to see the legendary Garden of Giants, which is said to be the ruins of the greatest city ever built, and the birthplace of civilization. There are two characters that this one focuses on, Harper, who is more than a little obsessed with glory, and Sterne who is more than a little obsessed with money. They get a bit more than they bargained for, either way that it goes. This story is a bit of a thrillride that goes from zero to – ‘what the shit?!’ pretty quickly. People die. Other people don’t die. Lessons are learned.
Kiss of the White Mistress is a story about revenge. Jao is a cook, who is kidnapped and forced into servitude by a group of bandits right after they murder his brother in front of him. He decides to cook a very special muskrat and mushroom stew for them in repayment. People die. Lessons are learned.
Respectable Work is a story about Chen, who is a scribe working for one of the biggest thieves in the empire (and it’s not Senesio Suleiman Zhao, master monster hunter and wearer of ridiculous beaver hats at this particular juncture… at least, not yet). I was really glad to have a story with Chen as the focus, telling the story of how exactly he came to be in the employ of such a blustery person. People died. Lessons were…. probably not learned.
As it turns out, I can compare a lot of books/characters to video games. I don’t know how this happened. Nope. No idea. 😀
This little anthology of dark stories was a great use of a couple of hours. It’s got all the death and dismemberment you could ask for for $3.