Friday 2 December 2022

Book Review: Savage Realms Monthly November 2022

My review of the latest issue of Savage Realms Monthly:


Edited by William Miller

Literary Rebel, 73 pages. Paperback

 Savage Realms Monthly has been running for almost two years, publishing three stories per issue with an impressive regularity. And, under the editorship of William Miller, some outstanding tales it has published too.

This issue is no exception.

It kicks off, almost literally, with a true Norse adventure by Garrett Boatman. In Ragnar’s Bane our barbaric protagonist, King Ragnar Broadaxe is a giant of a man even amongst his Viking subjects, out raiding for plunder when he is cast onto a storm-swept island, where he encounters a beautiful woman he soon learns is a witch – a witch imprisoned by a powerful wizard who she begs Ragnar to kill for her. It’s a request, which along with all the promised wealth this will bring to him, Ragnar is unable to turn down. Of course, in the event this task is far from as straightforward at it looks at first glance and its conclusion far from what Ragnar expects. A well-constructed rollicking tale, full of grim twists and turns for our rapacious hero.

Contrastingly, the second tale, To Outlast the Moon by Jared Kerr, is in a deceptively far more civilised setting, the ancestral home of General Jalan Hazim. Although he is the Empire’s most successful soldier, now turned sixty-one by tradition he must honourably die in one-to-one combat to make way for younger men. To compel him to comply the Emperor has already sent an anonymous knight-executioner, along with an imperial witness to make sure everything is carried out according to law. Hazim is prepared to die, though he is equally determined to do so defending himself to the best of his ability, knowing that even if he defeats his first opponent another will be sent a few days later to make sure his death is accomplished. This is a touching tale of honour, the passing of time and pathos, with again some twists to what otherwise would seem a straightforward tale.

The final entry is City of the Forgotten Kings by H. E. Johnston, and to me a more traditional swords and sorcery yarn than the others,  in which two thieves, hearing of a great treasure, head for the feared realm of the City of the Forgotten Kings, whose ruins teem with the ghosts of its long-dead past inhabitants. The main protagonists are the worldly-wise female warrior Tanet, deadly at swordplay, and her companion, Ghede of Zabal, “a small man with a wiry frame and a grin that held more secrets than mirth…” Tales about looters of lost cities are always entertaining, the more dangerous the environment the better – and few come more dangerous than the City of the Forgotten Kings!

So, again three highly entertaining stories, all well-written, with inventive plots and colourful settings and convincing characters.

David A. Riley


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