‘Ravensong and the power of change.’ by Brian Hayes

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This story has a mythological element but does not correspond to any one system of belief I can find. Dayeus Pitar (Father of heaven) belongs to the Verdic mythology and is equivalent to the Greek god Zeus. Rhea is the daughter of the titan earth goddess in Greek mythology. Hrafn appears in Norse myth as one of the ravens of Odin and Hermes is the winged messenger of the gods in Greek mythology. Gromli is the main character and a hobbit, which I thought maybe a reference to Tolkien, but may have more in common with World of Warcraft. Therefore, if you are a gamer the references in this story may make more sense to you than they do to me.

The idea of a child being born different with a raven birthmark (a raven being the harbinger of doom) and taller than most hobbits is an interesting one. Gromli has two impediments he must overcome; the fact that he looks different and he sees a shadow pass over people before they die, an omen. As a child, he lashes out verbally, against those who treat him badly. This is his defense mechanism and there is a suggestion that this bad behaviour cannot be tamed. This raises the bigger question about nature or nurture and can we overcome our weaknesses to make long-term changes. His mother seeks to moderate his childhood behaviour by arranging for him to be taught music and become a travelling bard, that his words may be used to entertain and bring pleasure rather than pain. The turning point comes when he sees a shadow pass over the Queen and he wants to save her. His father sets him a task; she must fall in love with him without him changing his personality. This depends on the Queen liking his songs and his outspoken personality.

There is a critical undercurrent much like Neil Gaiman’s American Gods where the gods are criticized for being capricious and cruel, not caring about humanity. The danger here is that the discussion becomes a little preachy, suggesting all religion is a waste of time and that it is illusory to think there will be any positive outcome. By making both the Queen and Gromli strong independent characters, the idea of independence from the gods is reinforced.

My main criticism of this short story is there is a little too much telling and not enough showing. The development of scenes is limited. The reader would benefit from seeing his interaction with other children, how his mother and father dealt with him as a child, and the Queen’s interactions with her advisors, compared to Gromli, as the suggestion is there is a marked difference. This is an interesting story from a different part of the world.

Ravensong is part of The Stories Untold – Season 2, published by Daastan and Quissa, Pakistan’s self-publishing platform for aspiring authors.

Book available from: https://www.meraqissa.com/book/1899

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