Black Gate Online, September 30, 2012

Black Gate Online, September 30, 2012

Reviewed in this issue is:

“The Duelist” by Jason E. Thummel

At its core, Jason E. Thummel’s tale, “The Duelist,” is about a hired sword, Sir Androi Karpelov, who begins the story by dispatching an inferior opponent in a duel to the death. Once the man, who we much later learn is Sir Thoms, is dead, Karpelov realizes that Thoms left behind not only a widow, but also a young son. This disturbs Karpelov, who then takes advantage of opportunity and takes it upon himself to make amends.

Sir Karpelov spends so much of the story in an inebriated state as to become the drunken swordmaster. There are comely wenches with ample bosoms here. As well, there are head-hopping—places where we learn through Karpelov’s point of view things that it would be impossible for Karpelov to know. For example, short of telepathy, there is no way Karpelov would know the reason his second, Ephram threw open a door, then closed it and knocked for entry. Here, body parts are magical. Mouths ejaculate, backs are unseeing, faces speak, and eyes burn. Except they don’t.

Had this been intended as a humorous romp, the purple prose, misplaced modifiers, and clichés might have been taken in stride. However, since this is not subject matter that lends itself well to laughter, the story needed to be shorter and tighter to work well.

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

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