I’ve been reaching out to folks on Twitter to give me some books to review (and I’m still accepting requests because I’m looking to advise other people before they buy books) while I wait for my copy of Punderdome 3000 to arrive from Blogging for Books. I was asked if I would be willing to review books if authors themselves reached out to me, and the answer is: Of course! If you’re an indie author, I’d love to review your book. Meyari McFarland (who has a wordpress blog here) was kind enough to send me a free copy of “Broken Sword of Night,” thus starting a new feature I’m starting (and hoping to keep doing) where I review work by an indie author.
“Broken Sword of Night” is part of a series of short stories (which I think are not necessarily related to each other) by Meyari McFarland. Though the setting is not immediately clear, it falls into the fantasy genre. The story itself is a pretty quick read, which is good if you’re looking for something to occupy your time on a commute home and aren’t looking for something that will take multiple train rides to read.
Here’s the official synopsis:
Jamie was king, granted by the right of the Black Sword of Night. Except he wasn’t king, not now that his Knight and lover Ainsley was dead. No one was until the Black Sword was restored. A year after the sword broke, Jamie ran to Ainsley’s memorial. Finding the true king meant opening his heart and Jamie didn’t think he could do that. Let him have one night to mourn. Then he’d find the true king.
There were a few issues I had with the story, and it was mainly context. I didn’t really understand what was going on, and it seemed like the fantasy story that needed a little more time for world building. Again, this might be because I haven’t read other stories in the series, so maybe it is explained at some point, but one of the major plot points (a sword) was something I honestly didn’t really get. Even after it was explained, I still felt a little lost because there wasn’t the space within the length of the story to show it.
Something else I wasn’t sold on was the way Finley, one of the protagonists, speaks. It can be difficult to write dialect and accents in a convincing manner, even when the author is someone who’s been writing dialogue for a while. Generally speaking, my preference in that case is always going to be to describe the accent and write the dialogue like you would if someone didn’t have an accent, but that is a personal preference, and it doesn’t hinder the progression of the story.
Otherwise, I did really enjoy “Broken Sword of Night.” I think the premise of it is an interesting one, and I was left wishing I could have more about these characters in addition to just this one short story. You get a lot of information about what kind of state the setting is in (there are people who are in poverty, a monarch who’s kind of not really a monarch, disorder and bad nobles), which can be difficult to do in the course of ~5k words.
I felt genuine sympathy for the main protagonist, Jamie, and liked the way his feelings were described. The characters are interesting and you’re given information about their relationships. Furthermore, the descriptions are solid in terms of putting you in the scene (I keep thinking back to the rotting moss), and that isn’t a bad
It’s not a bad read and I think that $2.99 (the list price on Smashwords, linked above) is a pretty solid asking price for what you get. Further more, Meyari has a huge amount of work listed, so if fantasy isn’t your usual thing, you’re still likely to find something in a genre you read. If you read one and like it, there are collections of shorts that might be a better deal since you’re usually paying $6.99 for a collection of six stories. Not bad at all, in my opinion.
Meyari typically writes LGBT+ fiction, and if that’s something you’re interested in (and you want to support her writing), I would recommend checking her work out. In addition to Smashwords, she is on Amazon, Scribd, and Barnes & Noble.
If you’re an independent author and want me to check out your work (whether you’re able to send me a free copy or not), let me know so I can put it on my list of works to review.