Rating: 4 stars out of 5
After ten years of marriage, Lord Raleigh’s union to the vicious fighter Prince Moshe has become mired in endless arguments, uncertainty, and finally separate chambers. A love once hot as the fire is now becoming cold and Raleigh is afraid for their future. A proud man, Raleigh is now beset by pain from old injuries, unable to wield his swords as he once did, the same swordwork that captured the heart and passions of his husband Moshe.
After yet another argument ruins the moment between them, Raleigh learns that Moshe has accepted an invitation to participate in a winter sword fighting tournament. It will take place in the castle on order from the king, a ruler overly fond of Moshe from Raleigh’s perspective. Fearing that Moshe will away rather than return to the small holdings deep in the mountains, Raleigh chooses to accept as well. Raleigh believes might be his last chance to win back Moshe’s love. But can a man bound by pride and age find it in himself to win one more battle? That of the only thing he wants….Moshe’s love.
The Rusted Sword by R.D. Hero is a well written short story that encapsulates the problems of one couple’s marriage. That the couple is located in a fantasy world of snowbound keeps and a kingdom where swordplay and tournaments go hand in hand doesn’t alter the fact that most couples issues stem from the same problems. A lack of attention to each other, a shutting down of communication and a walling away of self from your partner. Those relationship truths exist no matter the genre or couple or even universe.
Raleigh (cousin to the King) was once a heralded swordsman. He was famous for winning battles and tournements and by his talents, he won the heart of Moshe, a prince sent to the King from another country as hostage/good faith. A playmate and friend of both the King and Raleigh as children, Raleigh loved him from the start and pursued him relentlessly once they were grown. It’s been 10 years since Raleigh won Moshe’s heart and they were married and their marriage is now cold , filled with self imposed loneliness and pain. The author makes us feel every bit of Raleigh’s years. His aching knee, his age, and his fears that being less than what he once was has cost him Moshe’s love. That it’s Raleigh’s pride that is also pushing Moshe away is apparent to the reader although not Raleigh himself. Hero makes us hurt for both men even as we are exasperated by Raleigh’s actions. It is a poignant picture Hero paints of a union in trouble, realistic in the pained dialog and long awkward silences.
An invitation acts as the impetus for a change in the relationship. A trip, a tournament and an old friend’s actions brings about a sea change. How that happens and the world building by Hero are some of the real joys of this short story. I thought everything here was so well done from the characterizations to the plot to the visualizations of the halls and trappings themselves. While I wish I had a little more of the history between Raleigh and his cousin, it still came across as a complete story instead of an interlude pulled from a much larger tale.
The Rusted Sword was a first story for me by R. D. Hero but it won’t be the last. It’s tiny gems like this one that surprise me and makes me seek out more from an author. That will happen here. Love fantasy and short stories too? Grab this one up, its just the thing for you.
Nice cover art, not sure who the artist is.
Buy Links: Less Than Three Press All Romance (ARe) to come Amazon to come
ebook, 14,000 words, approx. 31 pages
Expected publication: August 27th 2014 by Less Than Three Press LLC
original titleThe Rusted Sword