Small Thoughts Review: Air of the Overworld by Matthew Hughes

Air of the Overworld is a fantasy novelet published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan/Feb 2020, issue. It focuses on a reoccurring character that Hughes has written about for years; a wizard’s henchman named Baldemar.

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If you haven’t read the other (mis)adventures of Baldemar, this specific tale may be difficult to connect with that first. There are minor characters who regular readers have gotten to know in prior installments, as well as references to events in the past that would surely feel more important if you’d read about them. Me, I’ve read one other story about Baldemar, so I at least understood the type of magical world he lives in. I think the barrier to access may be–thicker, so to speak, if I had not.

Air of the Overworld is a retelling of a classic tale. It could be equated to the story of Icaris–that foolish man who made wings of wax and flew to close to the sun, or it could take on a more biblical feel–it really depends on the connection the reader makes. Baldemar is basically the test subject of a powerful wizard–not the one he is employed by, but a different one–though how he got there I never really was sure. This powerful wizard wants to ascend to the high plane–the fourth plane, and experiments on Baldemar, sending him to this plane of perfect existence in an attempt to learn what he can from the air Baldemar traps in a golden bladder. The wizard is certain he can ascend if only he can learn enough, perform the correct spells, etc.

While Baldemar shows clear ingenuity to help himself out of a difficult situation in which his very being is altered due to his visits to the Overworld, the stakes, at least for me, never really felt so urgent that I was compelled to keep reading. It’s a story with all those fictional elements, character development, and agency, a person, in a place, with a problem–that is then fixed by that character or not, though what is most important is that they seem to have the ability to help themselves. And Baldemar does. But still, something felt amiss. I think it may be chalked up to nothing more than being thrust into a story that is the latest in a serialization, and while I wanted to know what would happen, it felt as though I lacked some context for it to be truly fulfilling.

Community Spotlight: DWB D&D Discord

D&D is a relatively new passion of mine. I listen to people talk about the campaigns that they ran during the 2nd Edition with admiration. Why didn’t I come to this game earlier? Mainly, because I just didn’t know people who could teach me, and those sourcebooks are daunting. Spurred on by my interest in the game I discovered the DWB D&D Discord server, an extensive community of D&D players who are always up for a good adventure. Here’s what you should know about this community.

What It Is:

In the simplest terms possible, the DWB D&D Discord server is a community of people who play D&D online via the virtual tabletop (VTT) website Roll20. Playstyles vary from Dungeons and Dragons Adventurers League (AL) to weekly homebrew sessions and even Play-By-Post text campaigns. The proprietor of this community goes by the gamer tag DaddyWarbux, hence DWB D&D. And For DaddyWarbux this goes back years and the online community he has created is a natural progression of his love of tabletop gaming, but also something more. “I got into streaming for Extra Life which is a charity event for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals,” he says via a Discord call. Extra Life is a platform for gamers to live-stream on Twitch as a charitable act. “That’s how the [DWB D&D] community really started. A small stream, dedicated to raising money for children’s hospitals.” While the server has grown into a community more focused on the shared interest of D&D, Extra Life, as well as other charities, are still a focus of the DaddyWarbux twitch channel.

Read my full article at Sequential Planet.

Torm, The Righteous

Torm, The Righteous:

~A prayer by Narida Loyalscale~

Torm, The Righteous

Guide my strike,

Lead me to protect those that might

Not have the strength

To lift their hands

To vanquish foes across the land.

Torm, The Righteous

Stay my strike

Guide me to see through the shadows at night.

Speak your words

Unto my ear

Let me judge those for whom judgment is near.