This is the first short story I am reviewing on zcreed. David is a fellow reviewer/blogger and I value his words.
From Man to Man is mostly cold and dark, but ends with a hint that things may be looking up for our “hero”.
Draven, our protagonist, has made a promise to his wife and child to forego his old ways. What these old ways are is a bit of a mystery to us – a mystery that seems to be locked away in a chest that never gets opened in this short story. What we do know of Draven’s past is that it involves a blade of some sort.
Draven is not the type of person you’d want to be friends with if you met him in real life. This tortured man is bitter, violent and possesses a pessimistic wit. He scares acquaintances and strangers alike – perhaps too much – and the reason for this isn’t yet revealed. How he came to buckle down with a wife and child in the first place is hard to believe. As this is only a short story of a much larger tale, I give the author his creative freedom.
In this story, our “hero” is having a hard time at keeping his word. He needs money. A lot of it (for some reason we are not yet privy to), but he just can’t hold a job long enough to carry home a decent wage of which he can be content. Every job he takes as he goes about trying to fit in as a “villager” ends in some kind of ruin. Of course this ruin is always of his own making.
Draven is confronted by the local smith who has some knowledge of his past life. The tradesman makes a job offer (one of less than reputable claim) which is immediately and resolutely denied. As we witness Draven’s inner turmoil about trying to keep his past behind him yet earn enough money for his future, Draven recounts and accepts the work being offered.
The most interesting thing about this short story to me is how I have actually grown attached to Draven in so few words – and I don’t even like the man! I am curious to see what the future holds for him and his family. I was also fascinated by some of Emrys’ imagery, especially the scene where the protagonist was struggling to stay awake in the pitch of night. I know this well from my own time spent in the infantry and David managed to capture the essence of the experience quite well.
I am pleased to give From Man to Man by David E. M. Emrys four out of five stars. I felt the pacing was a little too quick for my taste – but then again it is a short story. I also found the main character’s chilly persona, even to those who don’t know him or his past, a little too distracting. I imagine as the story grows this last issue will be explained away – and by David’s writing style most likely in a very entertaining manner. I particularly liked how our protagonist’s history reads like a puzzle being pieced back together. Of course this can only last for so long, but there are still plenty of pieces remaining to complete a decent sized book or two. Overall this is a great short story and I recommend it.
You can buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/From-Man-Wroge-Elements-ebook/dp/B009QY4EAS