This was my first encounter with John R. Fultz’s world. That in no way detracted from my appreciation… The hero, Artifice, is in the midst of a career change. He used to be “the most famous Quill in the world’s greatest city, whose books were sought after across the length and breadth of the Continent.” As the story begins, he is a penniless apprentice Playwright, travelling with a company of actors and fae musicians while working on his first play…
This is a prosaic piece, filled with vivid descriptions that make it easy to imagine the characters, their surroundings, and the play itself… Artifice and his companions are a pleasant fit and work well together. The words here are carefully chosen so as to maximize their effectiveness while minimizing the attention they draw to themselves. At its simplest, this is an enjoyable adventure that reveals the power of art and artists.
John’s tales for Black Gate include “Oblivion is the Sweetest Wine” (Black Gate 12), “Return of the Quill” (Black Gate 13), and “The Vintages of Dream” (BG 15). Seven Kings, the second book of the Shaper Trilogy, was released on Jan. 15; read an exclusive chapter here.
The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by E.E. Knight, Mark Rigney, C.S.E. Cooney, Donald S. Crankshaw, Judith Berman, Howard Andrew Jones, Dave Gross, Sean McLachlan, Harry Connolly, and Jason E. Thummel, is here.