REVIEW: “The Words of Our Enemies, the Words of Our Hearts” by A. Merc Rustad

Review of A. Merc Rustad, “The Words of Our Enemies, the Words of Our Hearts”, in Aidan Doyle, Rachael K. Jones, and E. Catherine Tobler, Sword and Sonnet (Ate Bit Bear, 2018) — 133-148. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

“A shiny new story with dinosaurs” is how the author’s note describes this story, and Rustad delivered exactly that — not only with dinosaurs, but also an Ever-Hungry Queen, the tomeslinger Yarchuse who uses a set of neopronouns I’d never come across before (“ae”, “aer”), which I found read surprisingly smoothly and easily for being unfamiliar, a forest fighting for its right to survive, and (tapping into all my own desires) an Unearthly Library that people pray to instead of a deity. There was a lot going on packed into this story.

Yarchuse is the focus of the story, ae and aer quest to find the Ever-Hungry Queen’s son Prince Aretas, and the greater quest to end the war with the trees, but it was the Ever-Hungry Queen that intrigued me the most. Why does she hunger? What does she hunger? Was she the Ever-Hungry Queen three years ago, before the death of her daughter the princess? She remained throughout stubbornly peripheral and absent; I would have liked to have had more of her.

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