The Yellow Cabochon
by Matthew Hughes
Review by Sam Tomaino
PS Publishing Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781848632912
Date: 01 January 2012 List Price £24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The esteemed Mr. Matthew Hughes was kind enough to send me a word document copy of his latest novella, "The Yellow Cabochon", now available as a limited edition from PS Publishing at http://www.pspublishing.co.uk. This is one of his wonderful stories set in Old Earth's penultimate age. These stories have one of three heroes and this one features Luff Imbry, the corpulent master criminal specializing in thievery, forgery, and anything else he might need to do.
As the story opens, Imbry has been working at the lucrative endeavor of replacing the jewels of the dead with forgeries just before they are buried with them. His contact informs him that someone wants the Yellow Cabochon of Lord Frons Elphrate, who actually isn't dead yet. To take advantage of his connection to the mortician who switches the gems that Imbry has forged, he must arrange the demise of the lord. To save money, he decides to take on that additional job himself.
The only problem is that when he attempts to ambush the lord at a shrine, he finds the tables turned and himself the prisoner of the lord. To prevent himself from becoming the lord's slave, he agrees to tell the lord everything and realizes that he may have been set up for some other reason than the acquisition of the cabochon. (By the way, I had to look this up, so I'll tell you: A cabochon is a precious stone in a convex shape that is polished without being faceted. This one is the size of a child's face.) When Imbry and Elphrate go to question Imbry's contact, they find him dead. More complications arise and the chase is on.
Reading Hughes prose is a delight, as I have written many times. I have called him "Vancian" before and that comparison to the author of The Dying Earth still holds. Hughes also adds many historical details to his stories which make this world of his all the more real. My only regret is that I have finished this story. I hope to be sent another soon. I absolutely recommend this to anyone who likes great stories and beautiful prose. It's worth the price. It will also be on my Hugo short list for novella next year.
Anyway, if it's still available, buy it. If you delay, you may lose out.