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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Review: Haunted: A Tale of Sembia by Dave Gross

 Haunted: A Tale of Sembia is a short story by Dave Gross that can be found in Dragon Magazine issue 304, published February 2003. The story is on pages 68-77. This is the last Sembia tie-in short story, both to be read by me and it is also the last published, as this was a month before the release of  The Lord of Stormweather. You can check out my thoughts on other tie-in stories to Sembia through these links: And All the Sinners, Saints, Memories, Shamur's Wager, Another Name for Dawn, and Garden of Souls

The story takes place mostly over a two day period in the month of Flamerule 1374 DR, The Year of Wild Magic. There is also flashbacks to Flamerule and Uktar in the Year of the Crown, 1351 DR. This story is a good story to read if you are a fan of the hideous aquatic vampire, Stannis Malveen, and his formidable brother, Radu, from Gross's Sembian novel, Black Wolf

story art by Marc Sasso

The tale starts in Selgaunt, unsurprisingly, but our characters are not on the bustling streets or in an opulent manse, but instead are in the fetid sewers beneath the port city. The characters, the shade Chaney and cursed Radu soon come across  "Nightcarter[s]", another term for dungsweepers. I forgot how much I enjoyed their odd companionship.

There are a few flashbacks in this story, bringing up to Radu's youth when his mother was accused of piracy and the family stripped of holdings by the high probiter and held with extreme prejudice by the Old Chauncel. This story is the origin of the odd relationship that Radu has with his aquatic vampire elder brother: seeing the story art really shows just how hideous of a mephitic, nocturnal creature these are. 

This story is Exceptional, and largely because the contrast between Radu and Stannis. Radu is human, though maybe a little tainted at this point, but is largely a monster with how terrible he acts and murders. Stannis is somewhat of a fop, and seems more human than his younger brother even though on the outside he is a grotesque creature with a monstrous appetite for feeding on living beings. Package this with the comedic relief of the shade of the Dandy Chaney Foxmantle, and we have a fun story on our hands.


You can track my current progress here.

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