Okay, the super short stories are a thing of the past now. They eased us in, behind the drapes, giving us a peak, a taste. Just a little, just a little. And now we’re in, we can’t turn around, we can’t go back…there is only forward motion. We are in the Grendelands now, there is no turning back now, so we keep going, keep pushing…
Into Jaym Gate’s fantastic As the Sun Dies. You might want to read it, read it slowly, savoring. It’s the first long(er) story, and it tries you, it pushes you-
Let this be said- Grendelsong is not a simple thing, it’s not for easy stories with easy words and easy plots and everything else. Every story here is a challenge. Some of the challenges, yes, are simple things, yes. They upend your views, change your ideas. Some of them ask so much from a reader, and other stories ask for so much more.
Tie yourself down, prop open you eyes with clothespins. Say the words outloud. Each word here needs to be spoken and shouted and sang. The words are so important, the sentences so important! The way they ring in your skull, sing out in your head. It’s not just what happens here, but how it is spoken, how it is told. What we are given in the dark hours.
Speak the words, our names our forgotten but these words still sing. The narrative propels, the mystery engulfs. It demands so much from the reader, filling in the gaps. Like most fantasy stories this is a mystery. But unlike Mysteries with a capital M M M Murder She Wrote the actions aren’t necessarily the mystery.
It is the threads of the world itself, reality itself. The language is the mystery, the sentences the mystery, the landscape a mystery, the words a mystery. Things pull away, show us more of what we need to see, others hide and occult our senses.
But there it is. The nature of it all is strange, uncertain, a large question mark of a thing. Something to be prodded and pried apart. Something that needs to be understood with careful hands. The mystery pushes us in, further further. The words, the meaning, the landscape, the meaning, the characters, the meaning.
This is fantasy as existential crisis.
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