Today, instead of one book for you to read, I’ve got two short stories. They’re both written by Joshua Robertson, the author of Anaerfell. The stories are set in the dark fantasy world he’s created, and they flesh out other details of the world and novels he’s written.
When Blood Falls
Defending against the demons of the Deep has long given Tyr Og’s brethren purpose. When Tyr’s mother is robbed from him during childhood, he loses his will to live. Now, filled with rage and regret, Tyr hungers for a worthy death to bring an end to the futility of his life. In a short tale of blood and self-loathing, Tyr seeks the most honorable path to finally join his mother in the afterlife.
The Name of Death
Drada Koehn is a fearless, formidable fighter ensnared in a presaged war against the northern humans. When the Speaker foretells their victory upon discovery of the name of death, she sets out to unravel the mysterious prophecy. Now, bound by duty and honor, Drada faces untold horrors with her companions, searching for what may never be found. In a story of unexpected twists, she soon finds that her resolve to see the quest done will be the fortune or doom of her people.
My Review: 4 Stars
I found both of these short stories highly compelling and fascinating, pulling me into the world. The descriptions were vivid, the scene painted beautifully dark, the action scenes gripping, and the stories well-rounded. They were the kind of short stories I enjoy reading: they introduce a character, give him/her an objective, and reach a clear ending.
On the downside, the dialogue felt a bit stiff and stilted. The stories also relied heavily on a reader understanding the world built in his novels, so as someone who hasn’t read them, I felt a bit lost sometimes.
Still, if you enjoy a good action-filled short story set in a dark fantasy world, these are worth the read!
Here’s a Taste:
When Blood Falls
Vaghor did not budge. He pushed his tangled, red hair from his eyes. “Your mother is dead, and your father is a madman. We all know it. Why can you not accept it?”
“What of your father, Vaghor Fhar?” Tyr rolled the name off his tongue venomously. His voice carried further than he intended. “Your entire family is nothing but a legacy of half-wits and drunkards. Best hold your tongue unless you welcome death.”
He noticed the other sentries shuffle backward as he bellowed.
Tyr felt Gharkis close the distance from behind him with a single step. The man attempted to pull Tyr’s attention from Vaghor’s glaring gaze. “Where is your sister, Tyr? She had gone with you, did she not?”
“I bet she is dead, too,” Vaghor flared his nostrils, his eyes darkened with hate.
Tyr’s chest tightened. His deep voice rattled from his lips. “She is dead. Killed by a bear.” Gharkis grated from behind him with a sense of sympathy. His footsteps crunched against the ground as he moved away.
“Let him be,” Gharkis said.
Vaghor puffed his chest, inching closer. “Mother killed by a Witiko. Sister killed by a bear.” Vaghor cocked his chin, and clicked his tongue. “Where is the bear? We need food and resources.”
Tyr explained with a single word. “Taken.”
“Taken?” Vaghor echoed.
“Vaghor,” Gharkis warned.
“No,” Vaghor pressed. His breath was hot against Tyr’s frozen cheek. “We should expect better from Tyr Og, the son of an Elder.”
Tyr’s muscles instinctively flexed, causing his injured arm to throb from shoulder to wrist. “Bah! You haven’t been outside of Almdalir for three months. Try to provide before demanding from those who keep your belly filled.”
Vaghor growled, balling his fists. Gharkis reached past Tyr to calm the giant, only to have his hand swatted away by Vaghor. The Ispolini sneered. “Are you wishing to join your sister and mother?”
“I welcome it!” Tyr’s left hand clamped onto the jugular of Vaghor seconds before his fist connected with the giant’s nose and upper lip. Bones crunched. Blood gushed.
It was not enough.
The Name of Death
Seigfeld dipped his head. “I found Farthr chained in a hollow in that cave, captured and meant to be eaten by the Witiko scum. He had watched handfuls of his own—and humans—slaughtered at the hands of the demons.”
Drada felt her heart twist, the smoke of the fire burning her nostrils. “Your sister?”
Seigfeld turned his eyes from her. “Forever lost. Farthr agreed to help find her, unsure if he had witnessed her death among the many humans. We searched for a while, but the tunnels beneath the mountain ran long and deep in more directions than the two of us could have ever traveled in a single lifetime.”
Wrylyc looked over his shoulder, scrunching his hooked nose. “I don’t understand how Farthr disapproves of this story.”
“He is shamed to have been captured,” Drada said matter-of-factly, “and you stole from him an honorable death. He would have died with his brethren in that cave had you not come along.”
“He would have been eaten alive,” Seigfeld protested.
“Ah,” Wrylyc grinned, “but the Svet have eaten the living, even their own battle-fallen, since their creation.”
Drada recoiled, catching bile in her throat. She filled the space with words. “So, he is bound to you now because you saved him from an unsavory death?”
Seigfeld dipped his head in acknowledgement.
“Absurd,” she replied. “A life of servitude is far worse than a glorified death. He should have sought more Witiko in the caves to kill.”
“Oh, we killed many more in the search of my sister—”
“I hear little mourning for her in your breath,” Drada challenged, folding her arms.
Seigfeld continued, “…but many paths were so thick with the demons, we were forced to retreat.”
“Retreat?” Drada scoffed. “I know few who would be so eager to tell a story of defeat.”
Seigfeld’s gaze darkened from across the fire. “You do not know the horrors—”
“No. I do not. Because Uvil do not know fear.”
The clipping of Farthr’s hooves against the ground drew their attention. Towering over them, crossbow in hand, he stared at Drada with a haunting gaze, the darkness looming behind his massive breadth. His words fell on her like a curse. “You will.”
About the Author:
Joshua Robertson was born in Kingman, Kansas on May 23, 1984. A graduate of Norwich High School, Robertson attended Wichita State University where he received his Masters in Social Work with minors in Psychology and Sociology. His bestselling novel, Melkorka, the first in The Kaelandur Series, was released in 2015. Known most for his Thrice Nine Legends Saga, Robertson enjoys an ever-expanding and extremely loyal following of readers. He counts R.A. Salvatore and J.R.R. Tolkien among his literary influences.
Find the stories on Amazon:
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