Converted, the second story in the Meantime Series by Svingen and Pedersen deals with religion. Why would that surprise anyone? But this was in a time when religion ruled everyday lives a lot more than in modern times. Following the correct deity was no laughing matter. Surprisingly, the correct deity was whatever one the King followed. So, depending on where you lived, under the rule of which King, your religion was prescribed. Unless the King changed his mind, then you would be issued a new prescription.
King Avlar worshipped Verus. His son, Prince Boruk (later to be King) worshipped Urgh. When King Avlar literally fell on his sword and King Boruk ascended, the worship of deities shifted. Maybe it was just a normal childhood rebellion against a parent. The best way to assure loyalty was to start a war against a neighboring kingdom whose population worshipped the incorrect religion recently discarded by Boruk. He would show them the correct way and the correct God.
There was a small problem with Boruk’s favorite warrior and general, Draghan. After only twenty-five years of fighting, Draghan had noticed a pattern. People in battles died. Draghan was tired of fighting. Normally, the warrior would just go to the Shaman for an attitude readjustment which would involve the Shaman providing religious reassurance according to recently adopted deities. Draghan did go to the Shaman only to find out the Shaman was still worshipping the old deities. Boruk’s chief Shaman would soon desert to the other side leaving Draghan without spiritual validation. After deserting yet another side, the Shaman would be bitten by a rat and go on to launch the black plague throughout the world. Another mystery solved.
The humor in this short story revolves around the actions of Boruk’s sycophants, especially those in his coterie of wives and advisors. All around Boruk were expendable. How nice it is to compare this tumultuous time with present-day stability where close advisors are not dismissed, loyalty oaths are not demanded, and the leader is always loyal to appointees. Until he is not.
And some thought we could not learn from history.
I gave this a four-star Amazon rating because the humor was too close to reality. Like the Shaman in this story, I am getting tired of reality. Launching the black plague on the world is a bit extreme, I won’t accept the responsibility for that. But in this story Draghan and the Shaman voted for a reality they could accept. There is an ill-concealed message here.