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

Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #33, August 2017

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Heroic Fantasy Quarterly #33, August 2017

"Between Sea and Flame" by Evan Dicken

"I am Become Death, Destroyer of Worlds" by Raphael Ordonez
"Rakefire" by Jason Carney

Reviewed by Jennifer Burroughs

"Between Sea and Flame" by Evan Dicken

Central America during the Spanish Invasion is reimagined within the Lovecraft mythos, with Dagon-worshipping sorcerers in place of priests, and the conquistadors transformed into grotesque fishmen, while a growing resistance struggles to stop the end of the world.

Hummingbird, a warrior of Tenochtitlan who failed to save her emperor’s life, has been running ever since the fall of the city. Shamed and haunted, she seeks to stop the Destroyer, and is joined in this cause by the conquistador Hernandez de Cordoba, and Diriangen, chieftain of what is left of the Mankeme people.

I could not put this story down, especially during the fight scenes. The characters are flesh and blood with tangible pain and sorrow, causing the reader to wince any time death seems imminent. The world of this alternate timeline is richly imagined, with danger threatening the heroes around every corner.

Readers should be aware that “Between Sea and Flame” has a tie-in to “I Am Become Death, Destroyer of Worlds” by Raphael Ordonez, the second story in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly 33.

"I am Become Death, Destroyer of Worlds" by Raphael Ordonez

Set in the American Southwest during the early days of the arrival of the Spanish, this story explores ideas of redemption and fate in the face of great cosmic evil.

Pi Tigua, a young woman of the People Who Dwell Among Stone Animals, seeks to save her people from a great evil that has transformed the land, twisting animals into horrible shapes and enslaving the people who get in its way. Guided by her foster sister, Pi Tigua seeks the advice of the old gods, leading her to the eccentric vagabond, Francisco Carvajal y Lopez, who has been wandering the lands of the pueblos. Together, he and Pi Tigua must unite all the peoples threatened by the mysterious Destroyer and end the threat once and for all.

Before the battles begin, some political and spiritual struggles must be overcome, but those struggles leave the reader cheering for these characters when they face the true enemy at last.

A most entertaining read, “I Am Become Death, Destroyer of Worlds” paints the sweeping landscapes of the Southwest with chthonic shadows that must be driven out by unlikely heroes.

"Rakefire" by Jason Carney

This is a story for people who enjoy a well-written wizard battle. The sorceress Rakefire has followed the trail of another sorcerer to a small village far from civilization. She finds herself tasked with cleaning up her quarry’s mess; a young slave has been taught magic and forced to flee into the forest away from superstitious villagers, and is now causing problems for his former oppressors. Guided by a local hunter, Rakefire braves an eerie forest and dungeon ruins full of grotesque monsters to find the young hedge-wizard. When they finally meet, magical sparks fly in a test of power and will.

Carney gives just enough details of the world and Rakefire’s backstory to submerge the reader fully in this fantasy setting. The magical system is well thought out, with rules and consequences that ground the fantastical elements of the story, providing a strong framework for excellent magical fight scenes.

Classic sword and sorcery through and through, “Rakefire” is an exciting tale that leaves the reader wanting more adventures with the story’s namesake.