Flashes of Death and Darkness by Eli Taff, Jr. has a publication launch date of 19 February 2019, but I received an advance copy from the author because I liked and reviewed some of his earlier writing. Taff writes short flash fiction and claims that each story is exactly 500 words. Despite the temptation to count each word, I will bypass the challenge and just read the stories as I open another beer. The ten stories in this collection are one-beer read. There is an introduction (of exactly 500 words) and an afterword (of 50 words) but the additional reading should not spark another visit to the fridge. With such short stories, my comments will be one or two sentences as initial takeaway impressions. No spoilers. No pontification. Few Puns. Lots of Flash (as in lightning quick impressions).
An Introduction In 500 Words ***** OK, it is not a story, but it is 500 words and lets the reader know that there will be encounters with elves, dwarves, at least one Dread Lord, a war, and a threat to Human Kingdoms. Welcome to the Planet Parth as the Crystal Wars are about to begin. Taff also tells us his grand scheme for writing these stories.
SWORDS OF THE FATHERS ***** Sedric’s writing career was cut a bit short.
OLD FRIENDS ***** Alliances are formed as Gwendolyn chooses sides.
THE KING’S DEMONIC DILEMMA ***** Preserve my sword or save my daughter? … Give me a minute …
WALLFLOWER ***** A wallflower sees new hope for a brighter future while escaping a major headache.
A NEW ALLIANCE ***** The Elven Enclaves choose sides.
DARK MEETINGS ***** Halflings and Ogres appear. Is the wallflower a spy?
THE OLD MAN AND THE HALFLING ***** In this story we see the importance of vegetables.
THE LAST OGRE ***** Ogres are an endangered species.
THE VAGRANT ***** This vagrant had a past and a plan.
MONSTER ***** The life of Philip from the beginning to (almost) the end.
AN AFTERWORD IN 50 WORDS ***** If you enjoyed the stories and want to see more, here is the information on how to do it.
For lovers of fantasy, this collection is a good appetizer for what Taff plans to produce. Note that this is one part of the Tales of the Crystal War Saga, Volume 3. There is lots of world-building in this collection. There are way too many characters for those who want to see a nice beginning, middle, and end to each story. But in the aggregate, they form a collection that will drive a fantasy fan’s speculations along many paths. This deserves four Amazon stars for creativity, but I can’t rate it as such on Amazon until its 19 February publication date.