Editorial Review: Stones, Stars and the Storms in Between by G.J. Terral

Editorial Review: Stones, Stars and the Storms in Between by G.J. Terral

Stones, Stars and the Storms Between by G.J. Terral is a collection of seven new fantasy stories, in seven unique fantasy settings. Each story looks at a character faced with a difficult, complex choice, each set in an entirely different fantasy society.

Although the stories often contain new magic systems or new political systems, these characters are ultimately making relatable decisions about how they want to live in these distant worlds. These are human stories of revenge, duty, and kindness, about what we owe to each other, and how to live amongst other people, all taking place in fantastical settings.

The author creates readable, intriguing worlds, where strange customs highlight the character’s personal choices. For example, a religious ritual is described in Three Stones, where the goals and prayers of the pilgrims are at odds with each other, and a choice must be made, with wide-reaching results. In another story, a community experiences The Stoning, and they become stone statues at their death. The story told here is about one character’s personal choices again, using the stone malady as a method to talk about moving on or moving back, and to consider the individual and the community. This mix of the personal and the fantastic appears again and again. Fantasy readers are sure to enjoy this blend.

Each story in Stones, Stars and the Storms Between has a lot to recommend it, but I was most moved by Broken Mind, Shattered Heart, the third of the seven stories. In this story, a confused man called Mak struggles to survive in a dangerous world, where most of society is lost. With a powerful crystal implanted in the middle of his chest and voices in his head, Mak is unusual even in this post-disaster world, where it seems like everyone is just trying to survive. Mak has no memory of who he was before, but he can tell that this crystal could be the vital element in a dangerous plan to restore the world, even at a huge personal loss. This story develops the characters and Mak’s memories in surprising ways, and ultimately creates a moving twist on the chosen-one fantasy standard.

Sometimes the shifts between stories and worlds can be jarring. A sense of discovery and curiosity is necessary when reading about any new fictional fantasy world, let alone seven, and most of the time, readers don’t need every bit of the setting explained. Still, there were a few times I wasn’t fully sure how these worlds worked.

This confusion occasionally took away from the drama or the moral of the story. When a reader spends too much energy trying to figure out who the Abyss Mother is or just what a Secondson means or what this tower was, it can detract from the emotional impact of the story.

Stones, Stars and the Storms Between offers thought-provoking stories of difficult, dramatic choices, all set in wildly different worlds. Fantasy readers looking for thoughtful, speculative stories will love this.

With so much fantasy writing becoming long, epic series, there was something fun and refreshing about reading the sort of short stories you might have found in a classic SciFi magazine.