Tuesday, 19 November 2013

'The Year of the Three Monarchs' - Michael Swanwick

I love reading Sword & Sorcery books right now.Apart from a few books here and there, most Sword & Sorcery books are fairly lightweight reads and thats just what I'm after at the moment (what with all the other stuff going on). It's not just that though, Sword & Sorcery is all about hooking the reader quickly and then making it worth their while with derring do, a bit of swashbuckling and some dark magic. Like I said, just what I'm after these days and the main reason why I keep going back to Tachyon Press' 'The Sword & Sorcery Anthology' when I have a spare half an hour to kill and want to read something that's fun...

Friday night saw me absolutely shattered from work and after something short and snappy for my reading. It doesn't get a lot shorter and snappier than Michael Swanwick's 'The Year of the Three Monarchs', a tale that weighs in at a painfully slender four and a half pages long; a tale that you just want to take home and bulk up with some nourishing chicken soup :o)

Don't be fooled though, there is so much more going on here than you think although it's over so quickly that themes and approaches are highlighted rather than explored. The rather odd outcome of this then is that for a story with so much going on, there isn't actually an awful lot to say. Funny that...

Read 'The Year of the Three Monarchs' though, definitely read it. While I'd recommend the collection to anyone, this is the story that you need to read first. It may even be my new favourite story in the collection itself. 'The Year of the Three Monarchs' has it all, up to and including hiding its punch line in plain sight just as the story starts to move forwards. I love it when an author does that. You have three strong characters interacting in the most unexpected of ways and only one of them will be the ruler at the end of the story. If that wasn’t enough, Swanwick paints an enthralling picture (in hardly any time at all) of just the kind of dark and dangerous world that the best ‘Sword & Sorcery’ tales sit in. ‘The Year of the Three Monarchs’ is certainly one of those as far as I’m concerned.

Like I said, I think you should all be reading ‘The Sword & Sorcery Anthology' anyway but ‘The Year of the Three Monarchs’ has been a real unexpected highlight for me. I’m really keen to read ‘The Iron Dragon’s Daughter’ now if this is any indication of what Swanwick is like as a writer. Brilliant stuff, the ideal way to spend the last little bit of Friday night.

No comments:

Post a Comment