Monday, March 17, 2008

"The Wyrd of War" by Bill Ward from RotS

I came to this, the second tale in The Return of the Sword, with high expectations because Bill Ward's story in Flashing Swords #9 was so good. I was not disappointed.

"The Wyrd of War" is like turning on the Lord of the Rings just before the battle of Minas Tirith, swooping in on the wings of a carrion bird to find the formations assembling for the humanity's last stand against the twisted necromancies of the Animus. The soldier and sword, for once again the weapon is a crucial part of the story, which take center stage are doomed from the start, but as the story shows with vivid prose, there are fates worse than death.

This story has a perfect blend of epic fantasy and horror for my taste. That monster... you'll know the one after you read it. That's just sick. "The Wyrd of War" nails it, on so many levels.

Narration:
Now, on the last day, the Animus brought forth its force of beasts and bestial men upon the parched earth of the ancient battle-plain, and there made war for the fate of all.

and later...
As one body the Wyrdkin sprinted into the oncoming line, striking the unmen with a force not seen in the turning of an age.

If that sounds like a lot of hot air, you coudn't be more wrong. Get the book. Read the story, and tell me it does not come through on the epic promise of those words, in spite of being well under ten thousand words. I dare you. It's consistent in its mythic tone and yet it delivers on a visceral level. There is some serious bloodletting here, told with style and clarity so you feel the gritty ashes in your mouth.

Ward delivers a gut punch of an ending and ... damn, that was a good short story.

Links:
Buy the book! The Return of the Sword: An Anthology of Heroic Adventure
"Mightier than the Sword" by Bill Ward
from Flashing Swords #9
E.E. Knight's announcement
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