Monday, February 07, 2005

Knight Erring by Darragh Metzger

"Knight Erring" by Darragh Metzger, Hardluck Stories, Winter 2005

This story takes place at a Renaissance Faire and follows a team of seven reinactors, five men and two women. They perform jousts at the various faires around the country.

At the beginning of the story Jane, a new member of the team, is about to joust against her team member, Deke. While she's supposed to win the joust, she suffers an equipment failure. The shaft of her battle-axe fails, and she takes a blow to the head that ends the match.

Jane, apparently a hothead, is fuming. She had supposedly one of the best armorers on the circuit custom make the axe for her. Now she's off to give the man a piece of her mind.

Accompanied by two of her teammates she confronts Thor at his place of business, a tent on the grounds. She makes a general spectacle of herself and even threatens to kill him if he doesn't have her a replacement axe within an hour. Then she gets really nasty and threatens to sic the IRS on him. Man, was she mad!

Later in the day Rory and Jane find Thor dead in Jane's tent with Jane's new axe buried in his head. Rather than rushing off to call security or the police, the team sits down and works out the story. Then Jack, the team leader, gives the OK to call the police. While they are waiting for the police to arrive, Rory while moving the body discovers a clue. Yes, Rory is an idiot.

The clue leads them to the murderer but by an indirect route. The ending, an action-filled chase on horseback with a little jousting to boot is the best part of the story, exciting and suspenseful.

This is a fun story though the writing seems a little uneven at times. I suspect that will be corrected as Ms. Metzger becomes more comfortable with the characters.

She handles the background of the faire very well, which makes sense because Ms. Metzger has spent several years doing in real life what she is writing about.

My one quibble is with her choice of Rory as the first person narrator of the story. The guy is immature and a bloody idiot as well. I suspect she made this choice as a way to introduce a little comic relief. Perhaps this will work itself out as she spends more time with her ensemble cast. She is currently working on a novel featuring this same cast of characters. I'll be on the lookout for that.

In short, I hope Ms. Metzger turns out a few more stories like this before her novel comes out.