“Exceptional. A must read”: Tangent Online on “Seeker of Fortune”

Thursday, March 21st, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

David Evan Harris2Louis West at Tangent Online reviews David Evan Harris’s contemporary fantasy short story, published here on Sunday, March 17:

David Evan Harris, in “Seeker of Fortune,” creates a fascinating reality in which luck can be manipulated by Fortune Stackers. They can draw luck from one person and give it to another, or take it for themselves. But it’s a zero-sum game. Stackers often drift with the poker circuit, careful not to get caught. Since Sniffers protect casinos and lotteries, and Stackers that are caught suffer unlucky accidents, that only leaves two professions available — casino security and hit man…

John Sherman is one such talent. Not being the strongest or boldest of Stackers, he gets by. For a while he was engaged to Ronnie, the strongest Stacker known, until he watched her kill an entire family just to take out her target. John left her at the altar on their wedding day, and her fury promised a hard death if she ever caught up with him. Unfortunately (fitting for a Fortune Stacker), John finds his work leading him back to Las Vegas, the city he’d vowed never to return to, Ronnie’s stomping grounds.

How John survives his encounter with Ronnie makes for an incredible chase scene that I would stack up against (pun intended) some of the best from the Matrix movie trilogy… Exceptional. A must read.

David Evan Harris’s first fiction sale, “The Mudslinger,” was published in Black Gate 11. It was one of the most acclaimed stories in the issue, and Grasping For the Wind said, “Harris has the makings of an epic fantasy… I look forward to more.” You can read Louis’s complete review here.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Aaron Bradford Starr, Mark Rigney, C.S.E. Cooney, Vaughn Heppner, E.E. Knight, Jason E. Thummel, Judith Berman, Howard Andrew Jones, Dave Gross, Harry Connolly, and others, is here.

“Seeker of Fortune” is a 7,300-word short story of contemporary fantasy. It is offered at no cost. Read the complete story here.


“A Gripping Tale of Fantasy, Mystery, Murder and Intrigue. A Must Read”: Tangent Online on “The Sealord’s Successor”

Friday, March 15th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

The Sealord's Successor Part One-smallLouis West at Tangent Online weighs in on Aaron Bradford Starr’s epic fantasy novella “The Sealord’s Successor,” published here in two parts on Sunday, March 3 and March 10:

A deliciously complicated tale. Once again we follow the adventures of Gallery Hunter Gloren Avericci and his ever-present feline companion, Lord Yr Neh… Rich with quirky and mysterious characters, rife with political intrigue, Yr Neh silently laughing at all human folly and Aven tripping over himself trying to appear self-important, [this was] an exceptional tapestry I just could not put down.

The Lordship succession of the Otrock Line is in question. However, this ancient island kingdom has a unique rite of selection by which a new Lord is chosen, one which has always prevented bloodshed. All with a claim to the title gather for a viewing of The Painting, an ancient, arcane creation of the greatest practitioner of the Hundred Visible Mysteries, Dhend Attren Aon. Somehow this painting conveys its choice to the viewers with such certainty that the decision for the throne has always been immediately accepted by all…

Chases thru the twisty, dangerous walkways of the cities of Landing Port and Rockface, constantly shifting allegiances, escape from imprisonment thru the deep passages of the mysterious, ancient Pre-Rain Underhold, revelations about who Velice and her Countess really are, all lead to a final encounter… A gripping tale of fantasy, mystery, murder and intrigue. A must read.

This is the third tale featuring Gloren Avericci and Yr Neh. The first was “The Tea-Maker’s Task” (published here on December 30th), which Tangent praised by saying “A story such as this deserves a world of its own and more adventures from its hero.” The second was “The Daughter’s Dowry” (October 14), which Tangent called “an entertaining, tongue-in-cheek fantasy.” You can read Louis’s complete review (warning: Spoilers! And lots of them) here.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Mark Rigney, C.S.E. Cooney, Vaughn Heppner, E.E. Knight, Jason E. Thummel, Judith Berman, Howard Andrew Jones, Dave Gross, Harry Connolly, and others, is here.

“The Sealord’s Successor”  is a complete 35,000-word novella of fantasy mystery presented in two parts, with original art by Aaron Bradford Starr. It is offered at no cost. Read it here.


“Reminiscent of the Old Sword & Sorcery Classics”: Tangent Online on “The Find” by Mark Rigney

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

AppleMarkLouis West at Tangent Online reviews “The Find,” Part II of The Tales of Gemen, published here on Sunday, February 17th:

In Mark Rigney’s “The Find” we meet the young Gemen and learn his terrible secret: at age ten, Gemen followed his sister through an arcane portal and lost everything – sister, family, seven years of life and his entire world line. For decades he has crisscrossed this world, recovering the scattered portal stones to rebuild the gateway and return home…

Gemen… acquires Velori, sharp-tongued warrior priestess of Dominion, from the Courtyard of Trials where she deigns to kill her four attackers because her hidden weavers (giant spider friends) counseled “mercy.” The massive, bear-like Dorvic joins the pair by happenstance, an encounter that leads to a fight for their lives against several dozen Corvaen soldiers…

An enjoyable, often boisterous tale, reminiscent of the old sword & sorcery classics. I can’t wait to see what fate awaits Gemen. A must read.

“The Find” is the sequel to “The Trade,” Part I of The Tales of Gemen the Antiques Dealer, which Tangent Online called a “Marvelous tale. Can’t wait for the next part.”

Read Louis West’s review at Tangent Online, and read “The Find,” a 14,000-word novelette of weird fantasy, completely free here.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by C.S.E. Cooney, Vaughn Heppner, E.E. Knight, Jason E. Thummel, Gregory Bierly, Judith Berman, Howard Andrew Jones, Dave Gross, Harry Connolly, and others, is here.


Tangent Online on “Life on the Sun”: “This One Captured a Piece of my Soul. Brilliant.”

Thursday, February 14th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

cseLouis West at Tangent Online reviews C.S.E. Cooney’s original fantasy novelette, published here on Sunday, February 10th:

C.S.E. Cooney’s “Life on the Sun” is bold and powerful… While the previous story in this series, “Godmother Lizard,” entranced me, this one captured a piece of my soul. Brilliant.

Kantu, warrior of the Bird People, seeks to rid her desert city, Rok Moris, of the occupiers from the Empire of the Open Palm. When Fa Izikban Azur and his Army of Childless Men march upon Rok Moris, Kantu and her people rise up. But the Fa did not come to liberate, but to reclaim those who belonged to him — Kantu, his daughter, and the Rokka Mama, mother to the Bird People and the Fa’s favorite wife, even after she had killed him…

I don’t know how Cooney weaves so many rich story arcs into a single novelette tapestry. But, on a scale of 1 to 10, I rank this one as a twelve.

“Life on the Sun” is the sequel to C.S.E.’s “Godmother Lizard,” which Tangent Online called “a delightful fantasy tale about an orphan girl… The dialog has a pleasantly oblique edge to it which entranced me from the beginning.” We published “Godmother Lizard” right here on November 11th.

Read Louis West’s review at Tangent Online, and read “Life on the Sun” completely free here.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by Vaughn Heppner, E.E. Knight, Jason E. Thummel, Gregory Bierly, Mark Rigney, Judith Berman, Howard Andrew Jones, Dave Gross, Harry Connolly, and others, is here.


“Classic Sword & Fantasy”: Tangent Online on Vaughn Heppner’s “The Pit Slave”

Friday, February 8th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

oracle of gogLouis West at Tangent Online reviews Vaughn Heppner’s swords & sorcery short story, “The Pit Slave,” published here on Sunday, February 2:

A classic sword & fantasy tale. Lod had urged the last of the human soldiers, who worship the god Elohim, to rise up and rebel against the conquering Nephilim giants since “it was better to die on your feet than live on your knees.”

But all the soldiers were killed or captured. Now Lod is prisoner of the Nephilim, slated to die in the arena as a pit slave…

“The Pit Slave” is a 7,000-word short story offered at no cost. It is the sequel to “The Oracle of Gog” (from Black Gate 15), and part of Lost Civilizations, a six-book series. A slightly different version of “The Pit Slave” appears in The Lod Saga, available now at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

Read the complete story here, and Louis’s review at Tangent Online here.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by E.E. Knight, Jason E. Thummel, Gregory Bierly, Mark Rigney, C.S.E. Cooney, Judith Berman, Howard Andrew Jones, Dave Gross, Harry Connolly, and others, is here.


Tangent Online on Gregory Bierly’s “A Princess of Jadh”

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

gregory bierly cropCyd Athens at Tangent Online reviews Gregory Bierly’s swords & sorcery novelette, “A Princess of Jadh,” published here on Sunday, January 20:

So often in medieval tales, when a mother dies in childbirth, it is in the process of giving birth to an important, and sometimes only, son. In this dark fantasy, “A Princess of Jadh,” Gregory Bierly strays from that path by giving us a daughter of emperor Thaphsis Amryth X, the youngest of five. Naome is the first red-head born in the empire in a thousand years. In that, and many other ways, she is quite different from her sisters.

At the age of twenty, Naome undergoes the ritual of being presented to her people’s gods – gods in whom she steadfastly does not believe. Though she has a vision during the ritual, and a sensation of being painted, afterward she believes that she has not been changed in any way. It takes little to persuade her otherwise. On her belly, an incomplete but corrupted rune of power now resides. And both the power that began the rune and the one that perverted it are interested in Naome…

“A Princess of Jadh” is a 13,000-word novelette offered at no cost. Read the complete story here, and Cyd’s review at Tangent Online here.

Greg Bierly is a climatologist, professor of geography and director of the honors program at Indiana State University. This is his first fiction sale.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by E.E. Knight, Jason E. Thummel, Mark Rigney, C.S.E. Cooney, Judith Berman, Howard Andrew Jones, Dave Gross, Harry Connolly, and others, is here.


“Even a God Can be Moved”: Locus Online on “When the Glimmer Faire Came to the City of the Lonely Eye”

Sunday, January 27th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

John R FultzLois Tilton at Locus Online reviews John R. Fultz’s “When the Glimmer Faire Came to the City of the Lonely Eye” published here on Sunday, January 6:

Artifice the Quill, in exile, has joined a company of players and is now about to see his first play staged for the ghosts that haunt Mornitetra, a city where the eye of its god looks down from a tall pedestal in the central plaza. The subject of his drama is the doom of its sister city Ultimetra, from whence the ghosts have come after the god destroyed their own, in wrath at their sin. Artifice has misgivings about this venue, but he is not in charge of the troupe…

The story… stands effectively on its own. The real interest is not so much in Artifice himself as in the head of the troupe, Mordeau, whose sorcery enhances the stagecraft and effects, so that even a god can be moved.

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.

Tangent Online called “Glimmer Faire” “an enjoyable adventure that reveals the power of art;” read that review here. You can read Lois’s complete review at Locus Online, and “When the Glimmer Faire Came to the City of the Lonely Eye,” a complete 6,800-word novelette of heroic fantasy, free here.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by E.E. Knight, Gregory Bierly, Mark Rigney, C.S.E. Cooney, Judith Berman, Howard Andrew Jones, Dave Gross, Harry Connolly, and others, is here.


“Releasing the Kraken”: Tangent Online on E.E. Knight’s “The Terror in the Vale”

Saturday, January 19th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

EE Knight-smallCyd Athens at Tangent Online reviews E.E. Knight’s Blue Pilgrim tale for Black Gate, published here on Sunday, January 13:

The Evil Overlord in E.E. Knight’s “The Terror in the Vale” is the Scripton, who is angered when the peaceful vale folk take offense that his soldiers are lifting the skirts of females to determine whether they are girls or women. He alleges that this is necessary because some adults are weaseling their way out of paying taxes by impersonating children…

As is the way of these things, the people resist and fight. This, of course, ups the stakes…

The Scripton decides to change tactics and does this story’s equivalent of releasing the Kraken — he creates a monster.

E.E. Knight is a scifi/fantasy author. He lives with his wife and three kids in Oak Park, IL. He may be contacted through his website at eeknight.com. The Blue Pilgrim was last seen in “That of the Pit,” published in Lords of Swords (2005).

You can read Cyd’s complete review at Tangent Online and “The Terror in the Vale,” a complete 9,400-word novelette of heroic fantasy, free here.

The complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by John R. Fultz, 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.


Tangent Online on “Glimmer Faire”: “An Enjoyable Adventure That Reveals the Power of Art”

Thursday, January 17th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

John R FultzCyd Athens at Tangent Online reviews John R. Fultz’s fourth tale for Black Gate, “When the Glimmer Faire Came to the City of the Lonely Eye,” published here on Sunday, January 6:

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.

You can read Cyd’s complete review at Tangent Online, and “When the Glimmer Faire Came to the City of the Lonely Eye,” a complete 6,800-word novelette of heroic fantasy, free 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.


The Tangent Online 2012 Recommended Reading List

Monday, January 14th, 2013 | Posted by John ONeill

Tangent-OnlineThe Tangent Online 2012 Recommended Reading List is compiled by 17 short fiction reviewers, and consists of the finest fiction from dozens of sources inside and outside the genre.

This year, three stories from our Black Gate Online Fiction line made the list, including two with their coveted three-star rating, their highest ranking:

The Trade” by Mark Rigney (Three Stars)
The Daughter’s Dowry” by Aaron Bradford Starr (One Star)
Godmother Lizard” by C. S. E. Cooney (Three Stars)

You can see the complete catalog of Black Gate Online Fiction, including stories by E.E. Knight, John R. Fultz, Donald S. Crankshaw, Sean McLachlan, Judith Berman, Howard Andrew Jones, Harry Connolly, and Jason E. Thummel, here.

Last year’s Tangent Online Recommended Reading List included no less than four stories from Black Gate 15; read the complete details here.

The complete 2012 Tangent Online Recommended Reading List  list can be found here.


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