Review of M. Bennardo, “The Ordeal”, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue Number 297, February 13, 2020: Read online. Reviewed by Richard Lohmeyer.
I’ve enjoyed many other stories by this author, but this time Bennardo has outdone himself. In this tale of institutionalized evil, a young man named Waller, at the urging of his lawyer father, visits the mythical Duchy of Alpinia. There, he encounters the world’s strangest court of appeals. To save the life of her wrongfully accused husband, Frau Fenster must undergo a trial by ordeal. In a single day, she—the duchy’s finest spinner—must produce via spinning wheel at least twice as much material as is humanly possible. Since nothing short of divine intervention could help her succeed, the country’s legal system literally requires Frau Fenster to work a miracle or her husband will be shot at dawn the next day. To Waller, this is a barbaric practice, but to the learned men of Alpinia, it seems perfectly reasonable to put their faith in God, “the only true Witness and the only unerring Judge.”
Saying more would spoil an excellent story, but I strongly urge you to read it. It’s among the best Beneath Ceaseless Skies has published. Given how good a magazine BCS is, that’s saying quite a lot.