Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"The Thrall" by Mike Schultz from Black Gate #9

Black Gate #9

The Thrall is an example of a story that makes me wonder why fantasy novels need to be so long these days. It sweeps you into this world where certain people are gifted with the ability to Thrall others, bend their minds to the will of the most powerful mind. It's set in a rustic fantasy earth, which is something I really like, I'll admit. Within the space of one short story, major things happen to the main characters, a woman and her child who is especially gifted, and their people. Epic, but on a very personal scale, if that makes any sense.

There were some things to learn from this piece.

First is to just go for it. This story hits you with this one main idea, the Thrall, capitalized and just makes it real. bold and well done. Reminds me of Zelazny or Card in that way.

Since even those who have no Thrall power can still feel it, the story brings a whole other sense into play, created out of our cultural gestalt of mental powers and a compelling logic of power and consequence. In fantasy, you're not limited to just five senses to elicit experiences. Excellent.

The power is developed quickly, as the mother and child are introduced, trying to evade pursuit by guardsmen. Bam! The rules are laid down to provide the premises for the conclusion of the story. Very little info dump, just tight third person perspective through the eyes of a vivid and compelling character.
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