Thursday, April 17, 2008

"Guardian of Rage" by Thomas M. MacKay from Return of the Sword

The next story in Return of the Sword is the prologue to a novel, though it tells a complete tale. It's a good action piece that brings us back to the Elder Darkness themes of swords and sorcery fiction. Jack, the hero of this tale is well drawn, a fighter as well as mystic, though I was so caught up in the chase and vivid setting (a dark ancient sewer) that I never quite got what exactly Jack was doing, the bigger picture. I'm sure the novel will help flesh that out.

Jack's situation has two major complications. First he's being hunted by a group of wicked cultists with freaky monsters at their command, who want the relic he possesses. Second, he has a six year old girl in tow, who's family were killed by the cult. The girl could have been more fleshed out, she was more of a complication than another human being, but that is an afterthought. As I said, the adventure and the gruesome details really held my attention. The story built effective tension with the chase through the dark sewers and the... creature .... thing. heh

The magic was well done, exotic, yet clearly presented. And it was essential to the story, which is in large part about Jack's meditative resolve being eaten away by his frustration and rage. Could be a very interesting character to follow.

Another fine story.

Buy the book! The Return of the Sword: An Anthology of Heroic Adventure
Thomas M. MacKay
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