Well, actually, by this time, it’s not that new, having been out a few weeks. This issue contains four pieces of fiction (as opposed to the usual three), one of which has an extra illustration. There are also two poems.
“A Matter of Goats” by Ben Fenwick is a historical fantasy in which two men, one English and the other French, are in Serbia to observe a solar eclipse. While making their way through the mountains just after dark, they are chased by something. Something that isn’t a wolf.
The constable of the town in which they seek refuge say that an ancient evil has escaped its prison and now hunts the townspeople. The local priest thinks they’ve been sent by God, since the Frenchman’s given name is a variation of the local saint’s name.
This was a different twist on historical fantasy from what I’m used to seeing. Instead of famous people and great events, this one concerns the ordinary people and the courage they have when facing threats.
“The Tomb Robber’s Tale” by Sean P. Robson tells the story of what happens when a veteran tomb robber tries to teach his nephew the family business. During the exploration of a tomb, the nephew triggers a booby trap, and only his uncle’s quick thinking can save him.
The trap reveals the existence of a legendary underground city. While I thought that a city of this size would probably have been discovered sooner, I liked the element of horror the author introduced.
Sean Scarber’s “Lady Cardula and the Gryphon” contains an extra illustration and is a clever little tale, if not slightly predictable in its twist. It’s also a bit of a different type of heroic fantasy. Duncan the gryphon is an interesting character, and I liked the wit in this one.
The final story is “A Breath of Darkness” by Liz Colter. In this one, an old woman, the last surviving member of a family of Guardians questions why the gods have let her live and her family die. An ancient enemy is breaking free of his restraints, and she’s the only one left who has a chance of stopping him. The ending of this one was not your run of the mill magical battle.
Finally there were two poems, “I Walk Towards Death” by Elwin Linhirrie and “Chiron” by Gary Every. As I wouldn’t want my commentary on them to be longer than the poems themselves, I’ll simply say that I found them enjoyable.
This was a solid issue of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly. The fiction was diverse, the characters interesting, and the writing professional. And best of all, it’s free, so check it out.