REVIEW: “The Doomed Amulet of Erum Vahl” by Ed Grabianowski

Review of Ed Grabianowski, “The Doomed Amulet of Erum Vahl”, in Catherine Lundoff, ed., Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) (Queen of Swords Press, 2018): 43-51 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the review of the anthology.)

Captain Jagga of the Hammer of Triel may have a brutal reputation, but it covers a soft heart — soft enough to rescue a beautiful, helpless, nubile young woman in distress when one is discovered on a deserted coast. Neri brings with her a fine black amulet — an amulet that the god Erum Vahl wants, and will stop at nothing to get. It isn’t long before Jagga is torn between her desire for Neri and her desire to keep Neri safe…

Unfortunately, this story didn’t really do it for me; I found the way that Jagga objectified Neri, viewing her primarily as a beautiful thing that she could sleep with, problematic, and Neri herself was flat and lacked agency. Towards the beginning of the story, she felt so much like a Mary Sue that I almost expected the story’s twist to be that she was the source of the evil and horror that plagued Jagga’s ship, not the god who was chasing her. But, alas, that was not the twist.