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Realms Volume 1 Number 1 Winter 2010
Edited by Guy Kenyon
Cover Artist: David Burton
Review by Sam Tomaino
Black Matrix Publishing  
Date: 25 January 2010

Links: Black Matrix Publishing / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

The first issue of Realms is here with new stories by Lawrence Buentello, Alva J. Roberts, Neil Carstairs, Corey Kellgren, Brock L. Noel, Kristen Lee Knapp, Bill Ward, Martin Turton, Danny Birt, Patty Jansen, and David Vahlberg.

Realms is the second magazine I've read from new publisher Black Matrix Publishing. The other was Encounters Magazine. They say they will be publishing four quarterly magazines a year with an average of over 70,000 words per magazine all fiction. Realms is called a more traditional fantasy and adventure magazines and all of the stories take place in some sort of fantasy land.

The fiction in this issue begins "Mistress Mourning" by Lawrence Buentello this was quite a touching tale about an old woman who has been the Mistress Mourning for quite some time. Her duties are to comfort the dead. A young woman comes to her saying that she has performed certain things and is eligible to replace her. The old woman would like to put aside her burden. Does she? This was a good beginning for the issue.

The "Lord of the North" in the story by Alva J. Roberts is Beorn Hammerhand, fighting the forces of Baltor who are invading his land. Things are difficult, until he gets some unexpected help in this rousing tale.

In "City of the Damned" by Neil Carstairs, Xavier is attending a harvest festival in the city of Dresfel when a plague hits. Many die until he finds out what is going on in this grim, but effective, story.

"A Thousand Words" by Corey Kellgren is the story of Sari, a woman who assassinates people with special blades that she has. But she begins to have second thoughts about her profession in another good story.

"Army of Orphans" by Brock L. Noel takes place in a place called Alta, years after an army called the Black Guild invaded, took over and killed many people. The problem with that is you make many orphans and they really don't like you. This was quite exciting and a good read.

In "The Unbreakable Shield" by Kristen Lee Knapp a man defeats his enemy but gets a special reward. This one will keep you guessing and featured some interesting characters.

Of all the authors in this issue, Bill Ward is the one with whom I am most familiar and I found his story, "Heartless Gao Walks Number Nine Hell" the best in the issue. One fine day, "in the last good year of the reign of the Lotus Cloud Emperor", the Daolong Monastery finds itself transported to Hell. They don't know what to do and their prayers go unanswered, so they send a man named Gao out to free them. He was a General known as Heartless Gao but wants to lead a contemplative life. Nonetheless, he sets off on a journey and finds allies and enemies in his quest to free the monastery. This story was imaginative, exciting, humorous and a joy to read.

Next up was "Hearts of Kaldun" by Martin Turton. Mathis is a warrior of he Eshotari Empire and they have invaded and conquered the land of the Lisanri. However, there is a fiercer enemy called the Juhar that is giving them more trouble. What can Mathis do against them alone? This was a very good read and I thought the end was especially good.

"A Spell of Bad Weather" by Danny Birt features Rill Trevin and other warriors who must defeat an enemy to their lord. Rill has the special talent needed in another exciting story.

"Raven's Call" by Patty Jansen is another story taking place years after a land has been conquered. Princess Larissa is told by her tutor that the last son of the former rulers sired a child before he died. Larissa is fearful that this heir might come back and destroy her family. She sets out to find where this heir is. Things take a nasty turn in this well-written tale.

The issue concludes with "The Masterpiece" by David Vahlberg. Hans is a painter whose wife has died of a pestilence and whose daughter is deathly ill with the same. Death visits him and offers to let her go if he paints a special masterpiece for him. Hans does in this beautiful, touching story.

As I commented about Encounters Magazine, this was a slickly produced magazine but there is one thing I'd like them to add. They tell us noting about the authors. I did recognize one name and verified from his website that it was him, Even if they do not have a lot of previous credits, it's always nice to know something about them. I'd like to see Black Matrix Publishing succeed and they are off to a good start. Check them out at their website if you want to support new writers and their publisher.

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