Old Moon Quarterly, Volume 5, 2023. 137 pages. Edited and arranged by Julian Barona. Cover by Derek Moore.
This is a collection of
heroic fantasy short stories. Most of these tales would fall into the general
Sword & Sorcery subgenre, but several of them stretch those boundaries to
the breaking point. The Table of Contents consists of:
Introduction, by the editors of Old Moon. An interesting comparison between “Kull” type heroic fantasy and “Conan” type.
Together Under the Wing by Jonathan Olfert. One of the most unique heroic fantasy stories I’ve ever read. The hero is not a human or even human like. I don’t want to say more because I don’t want to give it away. But this was a powerfully memorable story.
Champions Against the Maggot King by K. H. Vaughn. A relatively traditional Sword & Sorcery tale but with tremendous world building behind it. Told in first person and present tense, but I didn’t find that either got in the way of the story. The ending haunts.
The King's Two Bodies by Joe Koch. A long poem. Very fine language.
The Origin of Boghounds by Amelia Gorman. A story of a woman and her boghound. Very nontraditional tale. Beautifully written.
Well Met at the Gates of Hell by David K. Henrickson. Elements of this are traditional but it’s certainly presented in a unique way. A warrior dies and must face three old enemies at the gates of hell. As the battle progresses, we learn more and more about the warrior. I believe this is my favorite, although if you ask me tomorrow I might decide on another.
A Warning Agaynste Woldes by Zachary Bos. Another poem, and a most challenging one. Not written in standard English. This one bears rereading before you’ll begin to understand it.
The Skulls of Ghosts by Charles Gramlich. This is my story and is probably the most traditional Sword & Sorcery tale in the collection. It involves my series character, Krieg, but that’s all I’ll say.
The Headsman's Melancholy by Joseph Andre Thomas. This is an out and out horror story set against a heroic fantasy backdrop. Ever since Robert E. Howard invented the Sword & Sorcery genre, there’s always been a strong element of horror in the best stories and this one doubles that quotient. I felt strongly for the main character.