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A Mixture of Things

By Jim Zoetewey, editor, author of The Legion of Nothing

Sep 13, 2008: The Dark Icon Original Fiction web site contains a wide variety of stories set in different and interesting worlds. I only spent a significant amount of time with two.

I read all (so far) of the on-going web serial "Court of the Abominatrix" and a couple stories from the "Magekiller" series of short stories.

From what I’ve seen so far, I’m reminded of the science fiction/fantasy found in pulp magazines. The strongest and best features of the stories I’ve read are a good sense of plot and pacing, a well-realized world, and a solid understanding of how to create suspense.

To illustrate? I started reading "Court of the Abominatrix" with no intention of reading the fifty published episodes, but within an hour, I’d found that I’d done so.

The serial isn’t (practically by definition) finished, but it’s safe to say that I want to know what happened.

The same is true of the various Magekiller stories. I haven’t read all of them, but that’s only because I had the sense to stop after two.

It is worth mentioning that these are plot oriented stories. Though the characters are consistent and reasonably distinct, these stories aren’t intended to be deep explorations of the human psyche. In Magekiller, the main character tends to come to town, discover a monster and destroy it. In "Court of the Abominatrix," the main characters are stuck in another world(s?) and try to find their way out, discovering interesting features about the place they’re in along the way.

"Court of the Abominatrix" in particular includes a lot of viewpoint characters. Though the author does make an effort to make them individuals, there were too many (all at once) for me to get a good sense of who was who. As he started killing them off, it got a little better that way, but to be honest, I’m still a little confused about a couple people. A cast page might help.

In summary: A good read if you enjoy plot oriented adventure stories and interesting worlds. If you’re into more character driven stuff, not recommended.

A slightly spoilerific note: I couldn’t help but note that only two types of women appear in "Courts of the Abominatrix" so far:

  1. Women who start the story by throwing the main characters into captivity. In some cases they lure them via sex. In others they do it as revenge.

  2. Monsters that appear to be women (who are desirable in a way that’s simply unearthly) who either kill men or suck them dry of their vitality.

In fairness to the author, it must be noted that many of the men in the story don’t strike me as particularly nice either.

I’m hoping that this will all make sense by the end.

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