Aurealis #60, May 2013

Aurealis #60, May 2013

Reviewed in this issue are:

“Betrayal” by Marta Salek
“Catspaw” by James Bradley

Cahan, the protagonist in Marta Salek’s “Betrayal,” is a recently graduated warrior mage who is full—of himself, of magic, and of eagerness to do his part in the war against an unseen but often mentioned enemy. To Cahan’s chagrin, his commander orders him to immediately commence teaching one very special student. Cahan becomes resentful when he meets his charge, a girl, Kiara. He “could count the number of girls contributing something meaningful to the war effort on the fingers of one hand.” After Kiara reveals her potential, Cahan’s reaction changes. When, after several years of training, the pair realizes how they must use their powers to win the war, they make difficult, if predictable, choices. This tale is for those who like militaristic fantasy with an esoteric ambience.

In “Catspaw” by James Bradley two non-human illusionists, brothers Ashok and Ghataka, reminisce about their shared past during a reunion. Ghataka is particularly interested in discussing a former servant of Ashok’s—Samir, a human who became a magician in his own right, fell in love with a woman, and requested Ashok’s permission to marry. Though the events occurred many years before, Ashok humors his brother, answering questions and filling in details. As Ashok’s tale unfolds, it becomes obvious that things are not as they seem. The narrative here is sparse, giving this dialog-driven story the feeling of talking heads in a white room. By the time this tale reaches its end, astute readers have already figured out what’s going on and what’s going to happen.

A version of this review appears on the Tangent Online website.

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