Strange Horizons -- January 21, 2019

Wednesday, 23 January 2019 12:57 Seraph
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Strange Horizons, January 14, 2019

The King’s Mirror” by M. K. Hutchins

Reviewed by Seraph

I’ve always had a soft spot for fiction drawing from Mayan/Aztec folklore, but this is particularly well executed. The references to the feathers and jade the King wears, as well as using hematite for the scrying mirrors, draw enough parallels to make the cultural association. The era is unspecified, but clearly ancient. There is a great deal of depth present, enough so to be worthy of expansion into a full-length novel, which is everything I want to see in a short story. There is the humble individual chosen by the gods, the weight of the unalterable fate of a loved one, the journey from near-slavery and poverty to speaking words given directly by the gods to a King with a penchant for enslaving those who displease him. Selflessness, genuine concern and empathy for others, the inner strength to find peace in the face unwanted fates. The courage, and the voice, to guide a nation through assassinations, war, and treachery. It has striking parallels to the stories of prophets in multiple cultures. It is… beautiful.