4.5 / 5
Up until reading this story I had not had the chance to read anything from Michael Sullivan though I had heard and read quite a lot on many book-review blogs about the indie author (up to that point) that was actually better than many published ones. So colour me intrigued and for a long time I've had my eyes on his fantasy series so when I read that there was a free short story that served as a good introduction to his writing and series, I downloaded this and read it at the first chance I got.
This is a very short story, short enough that got that half-point substracted from my rating only because at the end I wanted more (sure I know that there are 6 more books or 3 double-ones from Orbit right now). I think that this could be a hit or miss for many mostly due to 2 reasons, both of which were hit for me. One is the plot, its resolution and the reasoning behind it might estrange some readers as rather unlikely or odd. But I found it a very interesting story, with both the expected and unexpected twists. At the end, most questions got their proper answers, appart ofcourse from a couple that I can only suppose are probably explained in the main story arc in the novel series.
The other is what is qctually happening in the story, the action or rather the lack of it. If the reader comes into this story expecting non-stop in your face typical fantasy-fare action, he will be sorely disappointed. The reason is simple: Sullivan apparently doesn't want to show-off his action-writing skills in this one. (Please keep in mind that I have not read the Riyria series so I don't know how much action there is supposed to be in his novels.) What is clear however is that he wants us to learn and enjoy the interaction of his two main characters, two characters that are evidently different from each other in a very realistic way but somehow manage to work harmonically and fill the gaps left by each other's shortcomings. So, we end up with a lot of dialogue, exploring several ethically ambivalent situations from two points of view. I personally found both points of view very realistic and if this is any indication how things are perceived and reacted to by the two main characters then I will definitely read the novels as well.
So in summary, if you have read any of Sullivan's books and liked it then you will probably read this no matter what I or anybody else says. If you have not read anything by Sullivan then this is a really good introductory point since it's free, short and, according to me, very good as well!