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the genre's premiere review magazine for short SF & Fantasy since 1993

Beneath Ceaseless Skies #85, December 29, 2011

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Beneath Ceaseless Skies #85, December 29, 2011

"The Death of Roach" by Spencer Ellsworth
"The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Her Field-General, and Their Wounds" by Seth Dickinson

Reviewed by Joseph Giddings

"The Death of Roach," by Spencer Ellsworth, is a dark tale about the daughter of a race of powerful beings that are killers and assassins, who dedicate their lives to strength without mercy.  She is imprisoned for slaughtering a leader and his family, for destroying her own people, and tells the story of her life to a record keeper, one who will ultimately judge her not just on her actions, but on her as a whole.

I found this story to be incredibly engaging, but at the same time it felt a bit too long to hold many readers’ interest for long.  It took several attempts to read the story from start to finish.  I did not regret the reading at the end, as it was a satisfying story and the ending caught me by surprise.

Seth Dickinson brings us "The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Her Field-General, and Their Wounds."  As a rebellion draws to a close, a woman stands to take The Throne, a rather nebulous and mysterious item in and of itself.  As a test, she has to come face to face with her most loyal general and prove to The Throne that she is loyal.

Thick with politics and intrigue, this story is a fast read and engaging as we experience Baru's world through her left side, as her right side is completely blind and deaf due to an injury during the rebellion.  She chooses to block out things as they come, putting her in a position many wish to have, since she can just choose to ignore something she doesn't want to face.  A rich and interesting story, which I enjoyed a great deal.