REVIEW: “The Satyr of Brandenburg” by Charlotte Ashley

“The Satyr of Brandenburg,” by Charlotte Ashley. Fantasy & Science Fiction 135, 3-4 (2018): 8-30 — Purchase Here. Reviewed by Standback.

Ashley continues to make creative use of duelists and swashbucklers. In a previous story, Ashley introduced La Héron and Alex, making their way through successive stages of a fairy duel. In this story, Héron enters an exhibition duel – seemingly a far safer, more straightforward situation. But one of her opponent has a reputation for “winning without setting foot in the arena,” which he does by manipulating others and making puppets of them. Héron’s first duel is a sordid affair, threatening to cast her as more of an executioner than a duelist.

The story focuses more on the Satyr’s mocking manipulations than on Héron and Alex as substantial protagonists. While the situations Héron is thrust into are compelling, it’s also fairly evident that she’s tackling matters in a very ineffective way — the structure is almost that of a horror story, with circumstances becoming increasingly, inevitably dire, with no real expectation that the protagonist can affect anything. That being said, it’s a very entertaining story, and there’s enough character here to make further outings with this duo an appealing prospect.

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