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

Black Gate Online, December 9, 2012

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Black Gate Online, December 9, 2012

“The Trade” (Being the First Part of the Tales of Gemen the Antiques Dealer) by Mark Rigney

Reviewed by Louis West

Mark Rigney’s “The Trade” immediately drew me into this world with powerful depictions of Gemen and his two companions: Gemen—his “invasive stare that made his age all but impossible to pin,” Dorvic, a banished warrior—“taciturn and tall like a stone column” and Velori, a Priestess of Dominion—“never still, found ways to pick a fight in almost every hamlet the trio entered.” Gemen is on a quest to restore his younger sister to life. He stalks the world, trading for what many consider to be trinkets or junk, but he knows are of value to others, all to obtain the knowledge of resurrection.

Gemen is obsessive in his quest and his companions bound to him by arrangements unexplained but so potent that they follow Gemen to places they would rather not go. Together they are unstoppable. Individually? That is part of their mystery. Hints of background story leak through for each, not enough to explain but enough to tantalize, to want to read on and know more.

The pace is fast. They arrive in Andolin late in the spring, quickly dispatch several bandit attacks, then are in the far north of Andolin at Tynnefast Reach where Gemen finds a magic mirror. Since the locals refuse to trade for it, he takes it, wakening the wrath of a guardian stone golem. But stone is slow. More than enough time for Gemen’s trio to make it to Corvaen, swap the mirror for knowledge about the Cryptlord’s grave and leave before the stone golem arrived to fetch back the mirror.

However, things don’t go as planned in the crypt, revealing much more about how fragile the bonds between the three may be.

Marvelous tale. Can’t wait for the next part.

Louis West critiques for Critters.org plus Spacecrafts and does volunteer work for the New England ReaderCon conference. His experience includes work in biophysics, medical genetics and international finance, with strong interests in astronomy and sub-atomic physics. He enjoys hard SF, urban fantasy plus select supernatural, and writes in a bio-punk style, focusing on the personal and social impacts of new technologies.