I picked this book up because the Kindle version was free on Amazon a while back. Now, SF/F is not a genre I typically read. Probably I lack the requisite imagination, as I am firmly anchored to the physical and practical. When I do read fiction, I tend to go more for a story that at least ostensibly occurs in the real world–I can picture all the characters in a Hemingway or L’Amour story, but I’m still terribly unclear as to the difference between an Orc and a Gargoyle. However, I have been rewarded by some of my forays into the SF/F genre, notably by Huxley’s Brave New World.
My general aversion to the genre has kept me from reading any of Vox Day’s fiction in the past, but I have been following his blogs for a while, and when I saw The Last Witchking for free I decided to give it a try. It is a testament to the quality of the writing that I immensely enjoyed the read, despite my continued confusion as to the actual differences between the various fictitious creatures. It did not supplant Winner Take Nothing and Men Without Women at the top of my list of best-ever short story collections, but it was quite good.
Personally, I found the middle story to be the best of the three. I was surprised by this, as the general practice when producing a collection of short stories, an album of music, or any other similar collection is to place the strongest material at the beginning and end, and the weakest in the middle. This story, “The Hoblets of Wiccam Fensboro” deals with the concepts of garnering the hatred of the righteous by appearing to join evil in order to defeat evil. Thus, it puts the concepts of duty of result and duty of example at odds, creating a compelling moral conundrum. Much fiction idolizes the man who takes a public stand against the odds and thus inspires a later victory, but comparatively less examines the value of the man who appears to capitulate in order to sabotage the enemy from within.
If you like the SF/F genre, you will assuredly enjoy this collection of stories. Even if you are not a fan of SF/F, like me, I imagine you will find this collection to be a surprisingly enjoyable read. Give it a try.