Fires of the Faithful by Naomi Kritzer
Eliana’s music-conservatory education is uneventful until Mira and the new song arrive. Mira is her new roommate; Eliana is drawn to her but suspects she is lying about her past. The song — a catchy little ditty about a murderous stepmother –may actually be a cover for a controversial idea. Then the inquisitors of the Fedeli show up at the conservatory, looking for heretics. Eliana is shocked and angered when a friend is executed —— and shocked again when she learns the secret cause behind a famine that has been plaguing the land.
Fires of the Faithful is set in an alternate Italy of roughly the Renaissance period. It follows Eliana as she leaves the conservatory behind, travels through the devastated countryside, and eventually becomes a rebel leader. A music student may seem like an unlikely revolutionary, but Naomi Kritzer shows how her peasant common se... Read More
Naomi KritzerNaomi Kritzer also writes poetry and short stories. Learn more at her website.
Eliana’s Song — (2002) Publisher: For sixteen-year-old Eliana, life at her conservatory of music is a pleasant interlude between youth and adulthood, with the hope of a prestigious Imperial Court appointment at the end. But beyond the conservatory walls is a land blighted by war and inexplicable famine and dominated by a fearsome religious order known as the Fedeli, who are systematically stamping out all traces of the land’s old beliefs. Soon not even the conservatory walls can hold out reality. When one classmate is brutally killed by the Fedeli for clinging to the forbidden ways and another is kidnapped by the Circle — the mysterious and powerful mages who rule the land — Eliana can take no more. Especially not after she learns one of the Circle’s most closely guarded secrets. Now, determined to escape the Circle’s power, burning with rage at the Fedeli, and drawn herself to the beliefs of the Old Way, Eliana embarks on a treacherous journey to spread the truth. And what she finds shakes her to her core: a past destroyed, a future in doubt, and a desperate people in need of a leader — no matter how young or inexperienced…
Fires of the Faithful by Naomi Kritzer
Dead Rivers — (2004-2006) Publisher: The tale of an impetuous young woman, freeborn in a world of slavery and magic — twenty-year-old Lauria is the favorite aide to Kyros, a powerful military officer. On his authority, she is messenger, observer, and spy. But now she is entrusted with a mission more dangerous than any that have come before Freedom’s Gate. After years of relative peace, word has come to Kyros’s compound that the bandit tribe known as the Alashi is planning an offensive. It is up to Lauria to infiltrate the Alashi by posing as an escaped slave — a charge that requires she serve in the household of a neighboring officer. From there, she will stage an escape and continue on in her guise as a runaway. But posing as a slave — a virgin concubine, no less — may prove the least of her troubles. For even if she does escape and the Alashi do accept her, how can this freeborn woman convince them she is slave, not spy? And, worse, what if her own views are gradually changing, calling everything she believes about her world into question?
The best story in the May/June issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction is the novella, “”Maze of Shadows” by Fred Chappell. And isn’t it lovely that a man who has won numerous literary prizes, is known for his poetry and essays, and was the poet laureate of North Carolina, is writing fantasy? And writing it beautifully, as well. The novella is one of his series about Falco, who is training to become a shadow master under the tutelage of Maestro Astolfo. A shadow master is one who works with shadows belonging to people and animals to create traps for the eyes, to harm and to help. The commission at issue in this story is one received from a baron, who wishes to have a chateau booby-trapped to protect his most precious possession. Falco does not know what this treasure is, but he creates a masterpiece of misdirection, one certain to lead any thief to his certain death. But a blind man easily defeats the maze, returning with Astolfo’s te... Read More
The November/December 2012 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction is a mixed bag. Some of the fiction is excellent; some is not.
The best story in this issue is Naomi Kritzer’s “High Stakes,” a novelette that is a sequel to “Liberty’s Daughter” from the May/June 2012 issue (about which I said that I hoped there would be sequels). The setting for the story is a fictional, near future group of platforms and decommissioned cruise ships and other floating flat places in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that serve as home for several groups who found existing governments distasteful. The narrator, Rebecca, is a high-schooler whose father has a position of importance, though we never learn exactly what it is. We do know that he is highly invested in keeping things as they are on the seasteads, and that includes bonded labor — indent... Read More
The April/May 2013 issue of Asimov’s leads off with a difficult but exciting novella by Neal Asher entitled “The Other Gun.” It portrays a complicated universe in which humanity has found itself at war with a race called the prador, which is ruthless, merciless and completely uninterested in compromise. It has already exterminated several species when it runs into humans, and a survivor of one of those wars, a member of a hive species, has allied itself with humans. The narrator of this tale is a parasitologist and bio-synthesist who was working on a biological weapon to be used against the prador when he was reassigned to work for the Client, as he knows the survivor of another species. The Client has somehow managed to steal a prador cargo ship, and is using it to hunt down pieces of a doomsday weapon called a farcaster that had been broken up and scattered across the galaxy. The narrator no longer has a human body in any sense that we... Read More