The latest issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly has been out for a while. I’m just now getting to it, but I’m old and slow.
If there’s one things I’ve come to expect from HFQ, it’s consistency. The editorial team there has done a good job of selecting some of the best S&S around these days. This is issue is no exception. In addition to two poems, “The Harrowed Hall” by Cullen Groves and “Dragonslayer” by Mary Soon Lee, there are three fiction pieces,
The first is “Beast Hunter’s Song” by Michael Liguori. Sedrick is an aging monster hunter. And while he’d love beguile some strumpet in a brothel with his exploits, the problem is the monsters he’s hunted aren’t the kind that are well known. What Sedrick has hunted lives underground in caverns. When it comes up, then there’s trouble. It’s just that Sedrick has done his job so well, that he’s pretty much put himself out of work.
Until one of the monsters he used to hunt shows up. I was expecting this story to follow the traditional arc of the aging hero finally deciding it’s time to hang it up or dying gloriously. That’s not what happened. I’m still not entirely sure I like the choice Sedrick makes a the end, but that may be part of the story. In the long run, it’s not a good choice.
With “White Elephants“, Linda Donahue takes us to the land of the Arabian Nights. It’s the story of Darius, a guard in the employ of the Shah of Persia who is accompanying the caravan bring the Shah’s new bride, a princess from India. The young lady is riding a white elephant, which is her father’s prized possession. When a roc flies off with the elephant, princess’s howda still attached to the elephant (princess inside, of course), it falls to Darius to retrieve the elephant if possible. He should have asked why the Indian ambassador wasn’t concerned for the girl.
I think this was my favorite story in the issue. The other two were pretty dark, but this one had lighter tone that I found to be more fun. I mean after all, who doesn’t like a good aerial fight between a giant flying bird and a flying carpet?
“Engines Rarely Seen” by N. G. Lancaster concerns a group of people heading off to join the army. When one of the their number asks their help in avenging his family, they discover that no good deed goes unpunished.
Told from the perspective of a giant whose best friend is a blood mage, they quickly get more than they bargained for. This one felt like it was part of a bigger story.
Anyway, the stories in this one were overall a little darker than what I’m used to seeing from this venue, but the writing was still top notch. If haven’t read Issue 25 yet, do so.