Spells of Wonder 1of5-Anthology-3.5/5

When sword and sorcery fail, only words remain.

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Dialogue focused scenes drive stories inward, emphasizing the character’s inner conflict.

Fans of the fantasy genre will likely find this anthology a refreshing change from the more common forms. Epic battles and grandiose adventures litter these pages, but almost always on the horizon, a backdrop for the story at hand. Warriors may fight, but find strength alone cannot win the day. Instead characters must rely on cunning and insight. Often it’s their own perspective that defeats them, until they learn to see things another way. Summaries help things along, covering days or weeks in a matter of moments. Dialogue frequently plays a critical role, either hinting or bluntly stating the meaning of the story. But blunt or subtle, light or dark, every story has a certain charm.

+Strong Dialogue
+A nice mix of mellow and serious, simple and elaborate
*Atypical Fantasy Plots

3.5/5

The Amethyst Carekeeper
By Barbara Denz

When dark magic threatens her village, Carekeeper Elissa must embark on a journey, following a voice from her past, so that she can finally silence it once and for all.

Opting for a light opening, the story relies on questions to pull audiences in, but then hurries to answer them in a protracted conversation. As dialogue continues to dominate, it quickly becomes apparent that this story will be settled with words, not deeds. Summaries guide audiences through much of the story, punctuated by short lived struggles, before two characters are finally brought together; a resolution that feels a little abrupt, but very fitting with the story’s mellow style.

+Strong Dialogue
*Mellow Conflict
-Somewhat anticlimactic

3/5

The Arrow’s Flight
Stephen L. Burns

A humble minstrel conceals a heavy burden. In the wake of her song, tragedy follows, forcing her to plead her case, and ensure that justice is served.

The story aims to strike a delicate balance, and hits its mark splendidly. The light-hearted voice of the narrator softens the dark nature of the plot. Colorful allegories help to flesh out the characters, while sharp dialogue carry the lion’s share of the narrative. Scene and summary seamlessly blend, granting the story a fast pace, and perhaps an abrupt ending. But an observant audience will find plenty of clues with which to build upon what the author has provided.

+Strong Dialogue
+Crisp Scenes
+Strong Narrative Techniques

4.5/5

Istar-Zu
By D.A. Bach

A young woman sets out to retrieve a powerful artifact from a dangerous wizard.

Implied questions pull audiences in, while a trickle of answers keep them guessing. Unfortunately the introduction of a new character heralds a dramatic shift; replacing limited answers with sweeping overviews that leave little mystery. A hasty plan outlines the remainder of the story, dramatically reducing the tension. A few complications manage to cast some doubt, but the story soon settles into a familiar ending, complete with vague references to the “next adventure”. Overall it’s an enjoyable read, an apt example of the tried and true quest story.

+Strong Descriptions
*Familiar Plot
-A little predictable

2/5

Next Time…
Spells of Wonder 2of5

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