I have been more than impressed with Matthew Gomez’ short works featured on his website, usually in response to a Chuck Wendig challenge. So it was great to see one of his stories published in New Realm Vol 5 #1 (an online publication you can purchase via the links below.)
In my opinion it’s a hard thing to pull off a short story in the fantasy genre as it usually requires literary space for the necessary world-building, or at least some necessary ‘grounding’ information. That said, the subject matter the author has chosen is familiar sword and sorcery fare, albeit with a new twist.
The story features Gracchus, ‘a veteran centurion forced into combat by his captors’ says the blurb. This warrior’s captor is an antagonist called Greybeard (no it’s not Gandalf btw) who nurses said Gracchus back to health only to thrust him into a gladatorial scenario designed to make him the subject of entertainment for Greybeard’s Lord and Master. This is as far as I will go with the plot so as not to introduce any spoilers, but suffice it to say the story doesn’t end with the conclusion of Gracchus’ duel. This is where the story gets interesting and we see a nice little twist at the end.
I’m not a great fan of drawn out skirmish scenes in books and so the duel to my mind could have been cut short a little, but this may just be me. Overall I was transported back to stories I have read by the likes of Robert E. Howard and Michael Moorcock with perhaps a touch of George R.R. Martin thrown in as well. So, if these authors are among your favourites then this story is for you.
I’m looking forward to Gomez fleshing out more of the stories from his site, especially those with a dystopian/futuristic flavour. But until these see the light of day, this story certainly whets the appetite.
Matthew’s blogsite: https://mxgomez.wordpress.com/about/
Chuck Wendig blog: http://terribleminds.com/