What I like most about this story is that it is full of classic fantasy tropes, but does not feel contrived or forced. There are good characters and there are bad characters, but there are also in-between characters. Raffalon goes on a rescue mission and then a redemption mission, and in the end must beat the bad guy and receive an award. Sure, I love when books successfully push the boundaries of the genre, challenge pre-conceived notions, and subvert tropes, but it is also refreshing to see that the foundations of the genre can still be done well and are still entertaining.
That’s not to say that The Inn of the Seven Blessings is strictly a conventional fantasy tale, though. While it has many classic elements (quest, girl, bad guys, deities, magic), I wouldn’t necessarily call Raffalon a hero, or Erminia a damsel in distress (there may have be a face slap and knee to the groin). It’s nice to see stories like this that successfully mix the ‘old’ with the ‘new’ in a novel way (yes, pun intended). Plus, the world building is quite fantastic given the limited number of pages available (30-ish) and makes me want to read more about this universe. This is the first I’ve read of Matthew Hughes, and I will definitely add him to my list of authors I want to read more of.
Objective Assessment: 7/10
Bonuses: +1 incorporating certain fantasy tropes while simultaneously challenging others
Nerd coefficient: 8/10 "Well worth your time and attention"
I must say, I am really enjoying my read through Rogues. When the stories are wonderful they leave me in awe of the authors' ability to create something so large in such a small place. And when the stories are awful, they are just short enough that it doesn't ruin my day. I'm still reeling over gibberish I've wasted 400 pages of my life on.
Previously: What Do You Do? by Gilliam Flynn
Next up: Bent Twig by Joe R. Lansdale
POSTED BY: Tia, who is currently reveling the joy of the short story anthology
Reference: Hughes, Matthew. The Inn of the Seven Blessings. From: Rogues, Eds. George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois [Bantam Spectra, 2014]