“A Siege of Cranes,” by Benjamin Rosenbaum opens with Marish of Ilmak Dale trailing after the horrendous evil that destroyed his village and killed his wife Temur and his daughter Asza. He meets a jackal-headed warrior.
“May you die with great suffering,” the creature said in what seemed to be a calm, friendly tone.
The warrior is Kadath-Naan, a sort of undertaker, and he agrees to join Marish for the sake of the unburied dead. Their journey transports you into a vivid, dark, and often gory world. Oh, there are light moments between the battles and wonder amidst desolation, but it leads to a gruesome catharsis.
I like the thread of love and betrayal that weaves it all together. I like how names are important. I think my favorite aspect of this story, though, is the way everything has a price. Sometimes it’s as simple as mutual aid. Sometimes it’s as horrible as a city’s children. And since it’s a world where you can sell a soul, there are other currencies still more intangible. I guess I like economics.
The story itself went on its own journey. In Rosenbaum’s journal, you can find the extended history of how it went from seeming intractable and unsaleable to a damn good story worth rereading and reprinting.
So don’t give up.