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The King's Justice: Two Novellas


The King's Justice: Two Novellas

Stephen R. Donaldson may have been quiet since the release of THE LAST DARK in 2013, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t busy during that time. While he is most well known for his 10-volume series featuring Thomas Covenant --- a vast epic rivaling those who garner more press raves than he does --- it is an often overlooked fact that Donaldson is just as comfortable with shorter works as he is with sprawling page counts. With THE KING’S JUSTICE, Donaldson provides readers with two finely crafted and riveting page-turners.

“The Augur’s Gambit” is the second of the novellas and is the tale of Mayhew Gordian, a hieronomer in the service of the Queen of Indemnie. Hieronomer, you ask? Yeah, Donaldson does that. He’ll challenge you, which is one of the great things about his work. As a hieronomer, Mayhew is a seer who reads the future via the entrails of animals. What he has been seeing of late is quite foreboding --- every reading foretells the downfall of the realm. Summoned to listen in on a meeting, secreted behind a curtain, Mayhew hears the Queen offer a marriage proposal to each of the five barons of her kingdom. This is a confusing strategy to Mayhew because it infuriates the barons, and the only result can be civil war. Why would the Queen do this? It is this mystery that Mayhew struggles to unravel, while also concocting a method by which the kingdom will not fail.

"THE KING’S JUSTICE is an excellent installment from Donaldson as he tides readers over until his next major project sees the light of day."

The title piece, “The King’s Justice,” is a dark work. A man known only as Black rides into a town that is growing suspicious of strangers since the brutal murder of a young boy. While there, he begins to inquire about the nature of that crime and senses a terrible evil having left its mark on the town. Further investigation of the outlying area finds many more bodies of victims mutilated in the same fashion. Something truly foul is happening in this town, and Black is driven by tremendous purpose to seek out the source and eradicate it from the land. He has the mysterious power to sway people to his bidding, be it for information or action. Though he convinces the wary people that they should help him, will their assistance be enough to counter the blight?

Both of these novellas share characters who are shrouded in mystery and whose purposes unwind as the story progresses. Even so, the principal players --- Black and Mayhew --- couldn’t be more different. Black is driven, determined and dogged in his pursuit of justice. Mayhew, while interested in saving Indemnie, is more of a thinker and just a little cowardly. The characters within each tale are complex and interesting, the stories themselves vastly different and entertaining in all facets of storytelling.

THE KING’S JUSTICE is an excellent installment from Donaldson as he tides readers over until his next major project sees the light of day. For many years, his work has been some of the most impressive and engaging, and he deserves far more attention than he presently receives. For readers who may be new to his work, this one may be a perfect starting point. The stories within are dense, mysterious and tinged with the right amount of tension to keep readers hooked until the end --- the added bonus being that they are very epic in feel but not quite so in size. It gives just a taste of what Donaldson is capable of and opens the door to exploring his other work most successfully.

Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on October 30, 2015

The King's Justice: Two Novellas
by Stephen R. Donaldson

  • Publication Date: September 6, 2016
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ace
  • ISBN-10: 0425283895
  • ISBN-13: 9780425283899