First, probably some minor spoilers here so be warned!
Anyways, JT has dictated his thoughts on this third, and awesome, volume of Whetstone, which he had the privilege and pleasure of appearing in.
Here is what he says….
Jasons’ forward is brief and a nice defense of the genre, and romanticism in general. His forwards are always well written. See the excellent one in Savage Scrolls if you want more of his thoughts on the genre.
“The Steel of the Timurid” by Chaudhry. This story starts off with a hint of what is too come. Sword and Sorcery but with many different flavors, some of which are uncommon to see in the genre. This one has an Indian feel to it and I’m looking forward to seeing more by this author.
“The Spirit of the Hill” by Burke. This was one of my favorites. It’s got a nice twist to it and just has that adventure feeling that puts a smile on your face. Loved it.
“The Rite” by Phelps. Phelps is one of the editors of the magazine, so congratulate him on his hard work getting these stories out there. His own work is fabulous. It has a poetic quality, and leans hard into the horror aspects of the genre.
“The Tower in the Earth” by Clark. Man, Turkael needs some wins. I can’t help but wonder if the skull in this story is the skull of Tales from the Magician’s Skull? Hope DMR or somebody commissions a Turkael collection.
“Shades of Ruin” by Schmidt. Absolutely loved this one. A haunted coliseum, what could be more S&S than that? How about never giving the protagonist a name?
“Griff’s End” by Dodd. This one feels almost interchangeable with a Western. That genre, of course, influenced S&S so it feels like things coming full circle.
“The Lies of Mars’ by me, of course. Well, I really wrote this one as an experiment. Jason said he was open to Sword and Planet, so I figured I’d try to write a 2500 word S&P story. Not easy, given how much exposition you have to do. Well, Jason liked it enough to publish it, so the experiment succeeded. I wrote it as an homage to Leigh Brackett but Jason in his forward mentions another of my favorite authors, C.L. Moore. Specifically, her Northwest Smith stories. I had never thought about that, at least consciously, while writing it, but now I see her fingerprints on my idea. Very cool. FYI, for those curious I wrote a stand alone follow up to this, which is completely interchangeable with S&S, and am hoping to find a home for it. If not, I’ll throw it up here for anyone interested.
“Fort of the Ravens” by Sabatella. This one had a historical angle to it. Historical fiction is not exactly my cup of tea, so I was very excited for the supernatural twist. It’s one of the best written in the collection, and one of my favorites.
“Dead Man’s Curse.” By Markitan. This one is fun, in a very dark sort of way. A haunted horse torment’s a highwayman.
“Rogues in the Vale of Time” by Whitney. I had the pleasure of reading, and offering my thoughts to the author of this on an earlier draft. The evocative nature of the other worldly environ here is really spectacular. Whitney is one of the best in the pulp rev scene and I’m glad Jason bought this story. It’s one of my favorites in the collection.
“The Tavern Keeper’s Secret” by Graham. So the way the innkeeper is described here is phenomenally well written here. I really enjoyed it. I would note S&S is a very traditionally masculine genre. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. That being said, the author here very deliberately put a LGBT flavor in their mix. It really worked here, the story stands out because of both this unexpected element, and the phenomenal description of the character who’s gender is either unclear, or non-binary. I really loved this one. It’s very much one of my favorites.
“An Ancient Ritual” by Jacobs. Yolandi is back. I recently read Imaro for the first time and I can see Saunder’s influence on George Jacob’s Writing. Having read the Yolandi stories in the previous Whetstone and Sword and Sorcery Online, I can say this is my favorite to date. Keep them coming!
“Last Night on the Hunt” by Truong. This is about a group of demon hunters, naturally, on the hunt, and everything goes sideways. Very different feel than most of the other stories which helps break up the collection.
“The Servant of Qos” by Crawford. Sword and Sorcery with an alien abduction feel. It’s very cool, and like much of this collection, doing something that is very different, but at the same time familiar. Which, I’ve been told, is the key to success.
“The Den of the Last Dragon” by Dakovski. This one is also darkly funny. First, I enjoyed the twist of the thief robbing the Conan archetype. The ending is also, let’s just say, a fun little turn. Also it takes place on Lemuria, and I dig how in Dakovski’s Lemuria, Africa and Europa are as mythical to them as their continent is to us.
“The Gate of Mist” by Cora Buhlert. I should point out Cora has been twice nominated for a Hugo, which I believe is a big deal. Admittedly, I’ve never really followed, or been interested in reward show stuff, but that shouldn’t detract from anyone’s accomplishments. Also, it’s pretty awesome to see a professionally recognized writer like that contribute to both this indie magazine, and this niche genre. Hopefully, it’s a sign of more good things to come for the S&S revival that I have the privilege of being a minor part of.
Anyways, sorry for the lengthy rant, onto her story. It’s written very economically. It’s definitely a minimalist style and it works. This story has a very cheery quality to it, and is a nice closeout to the magazine. It gives it a positive feel, in a genre that can be often brooding, and sometimes even overly dour. Also, nice little twist with the romance angle, again a lot of people trying to do something familiar but just a bit different in the genre.
In conclusion, I think the amateur in the title of Whetstone no longer applies. The first two issues were great, but this one just stands out. It’s really phenomenal. I really hope to see it printed someday. Not just because I want to put my story on my shelf. The authors in here are all worthy of print. I hope DMR and other indie publishers are paying attention. Some really awesome budding talent.