Tuesday, July 25, 2017

From Ancient Ravens

From Ancient Ravens is the third and final collection of three novellas by three authors, Mark Valentine, John Howard, and Ron Weighell, published as a series by Sarob Press.  I've reviewed the first two volumes previously, Romances of the White Day, and Pagan Triptych.  Here the common inspiration is a quote from Shakespeare's "The Rape of Lucretia":

To pluck the quills from ancient ravens' wings . . .And turn the giddy round of Fortune's wheel.

The first story is "The Fifth Moon" by Mark Valentine.  It is also the most Shakespearean in tone and content, and it concerns the legends of the supposed treasure lost by King John in the early thirteenth-century. It is also the standout story in the book.  Ron Weighell's "The Asmodeus Fellowship" is second, and rather disappointing.  Weighell often plays with esoteric and occult lore, but this story contains way too much of such imagined stories and volumes, so much so that the result gets boring. The tone is also rather rococo too. Parts of the story are fascinating and brilliant, but as a whole it doesn't work well.  John Howard's closing tale, "Between Me and the Sun," begins as a deceptively simple tale of the sexually-charged friendship of three teenage boys, turning into the meditation of middle-aged men on their lost friendship. I'm not sure Howard tied up all the loose ends (a re-read might make this clearer), but it still makes for a worthy and readable story.

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