Small Thoughts: The Joy in Wounding by Charlotte Ashley

The Joy in Wounding, published inĀ The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is a fantasy piece by Charlotte Ashley. It’s a continuation of some characters from a prior short story published in F&SF.

Image result for fantasy and science fiction magazine nov/dec 2019

Despite the fact I’d read that last story, I’m still grappling with the type of world this is. The main character is a witch, and so are her sisters, but then she has like some wind that floats around her all the time and can talk (?). It feels very Murakami in some ways, yet then magical things are happening that make the main character fly around leagues and leagues–with no real point of reference.

If I hadn’t read the last story in this series I’d have been even more confused than I am, and not only with the world. Some of the character’s actions seem unwarranted and unearned as if they act in order to create plot, rather than in their truer nature. Sometimes there are those pieces in magazines that I just can’t understand how they fit into what is publishable and marketable, and sadly this is one of those. It’s a harsh assessment, but this reader had an exceedingly difficult time not putting down the issue altogether.

The Satyr of Brandenburg by Charlotte Ashley, Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, Mar/Apr 2018

This story was great! I loved the world that Ashley sets up, and even though I hadn’t ever read anything by her before and even though this is a story that fits into a chronological serialization that includes these characters, I still felt right at home.

The main character is a grand warrior and has been invited to complete in a touney to compete against three other of the worlds greatest warriors. In some prior episode, La Heron, for that is her name, aquired another woman’s soul in battle. This woman, Alex, is of noble stock and one of La Heron’s reasons for attending this tourney, which is held in Sardinia, is to have her married off and be free, instead of attached to La Heron by some strange magic.

The other warriors that are to participate in the tourney are an Ogre, Donshead Doomsbellow, the oldest man alive, (can’t recall his name), and The Satyr of Brandenburg.

But La Heron has met the Satyr before. He is a liar and a theif, and he will trick and steal and bewitch people without ever taking a step into the area.

That’s the setup, and the story doesn’t dissapoint for the most part. I’d love to read a whole novel or even a whole trilogy that took place in this would, and I can think of no higher praise than that. In terms of this story, however, the ending was pretty expected and I feel as though I could have used a good twist at the end. (B)