Derring-Do for Beginners

Yet another Victoria Goddard novella, just as satisfying and spirit-lifting as I’ve grown to expect. This one is about the youthful meeting of Jullanar not yet of the Sea, Damian not yet Captain of the Red Company (but already probably greatest swordsman in the Nine Worlds), and Fitzroy not yet (as far as I can figure out) Angursell. The links above, btw, lead to the author’s pages with some quotes from the early versions of the story. Both the writing and the story grew significantly better in the years since these were posted.

Damian gets the trademark “his life was sad and his family did not understand him, but Communication, Insight From Relative Strangers, and Serendipity opened their eyes, made his accomplishments clear, and helped him understand his challenges” plot line and Fitzroy is mainly there for comic relief, which means Jullanar’s story is the more interesting one of the three. There is quite a bit of emphasis placed on colonialism and colonial worldview, but as usual the characters are so charming and descriptions are so lovely that some heavy-handedness is easily forgivable. After all, it’s not like Hugo and Gautier didn’t indulge themselves in the same.

Those descriptions, though! Just the colors alone would be enough to make this a perpetual re-read. I can’t wait for Victoria Goddard to reach her deserved level of fame so I can buy the fancy, glossy, fully-illustrated boxed set of the Nine Worlds books.

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