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       Reave the Just and Other Tales, p.1

           Stephen R. Donaldson
 
Reave the Just and Other Tales


  PRAISE FOR

  Daughter of Regals & Other Tales

  “Stephen R. Donaldson demonstrates new breadth and range in his first book of short stories . . . There is no doubt that Donaldson remains the reigning master of epic fantasy.”

  —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  “He has a versatility that few had previously guessed . . . [The] stories are fresh, original, and, in a couple of cases, simply superb . . . Exciting fare for Donaldson fans and the uninitiated alike.”

  —Rocky Mountain News

  “Donaldson proves himself at home in a surprising number of story genres . . . Of those stories that are fantasies, ‘The Lady in White’ and ‘Ser Visal’s Tale’ are exceptional . . . Overall, Daughter of Regals is a good collection.”

  —The Columbus Dispatch

  “The best tales here (both written for this collection) are the title story, a real good twist on magical power achieved at the proper time and place, and ‘Ser Visal’s Tale,’ on betrayal and ultimate triumph . . . An interesting overview on Donaldson’s style and the turnings of his imagination.”

  —Los Angeles Times

  “This collection leaves one intrigued about what Donaldson will try next. Meanwhile, his many readers should appreciate this chance to broaden their picture of him and his work.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  PRAISE FOR

  Against All Things Ending

  “Maintains the high standards of the first two volumes . . . Donaldson remains a romantic who believes in lovers who will risk all for each other.”

  —Booklist

  “A fascinating fantasy . . . Fast-paced.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “There’s much to like in Donaldson’s latest installment in the multivolume Thomas Covenant epic series.”

  —Kirkus Reviews

  “A long and complex tale, with many different forces and magical objects, strange words, prophecies, betrayals, and the fate of the whole world at stake.”

  —The Wooster (OH) Daily Record

  “This final installment does more than merely entertain. It brings the reader into intimate acquaintance with loss, sorrow, rage, self-doubt, and, ultimately, despair.”

  —Western Morning News (UK)

  PRAISE FOR

  Fatal Revenant

  “Thought provoking . . . This complicated and emotional continuation of the Thomas Covenant saga is exactly what Donaldson’s fans have been hoping for.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “The real testament to Donaldson’s storytelling ability is that he makes readers interested in spite of his protagonists’ shortcomings . . . Many readers around the world are waiting for the third installment in the final series of a fantasy creation that rivals The Lord of the Rings in scope and imagination.”

  —Onyx reviews

  “The ending is the kind of cliff-hanger that should have readers returning to see how it and the remaining adventures play out.”

  —Booklist

  “Donaldson continues to weave a complex tapestry in Fatal Revenant . . . An engaging tale.”

  —Warren County Report

  “A complex, poignant epic fantasy . . . Stephen R. Donaldson is a great world-builder as he makes his characters—even the monsters—seem real, but it is the poignancy of relationships that makes him one of the best fantasists today.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “There simply are not enough stars to award this book. It is not a lightweight fluff piece but an intense, mentally stimulating, and utterly satisfying read . . . It breaks my heart to finish a story like this.”

  —The Eternal Night

  “[Donaldson has] managed to expand on an already-detailed world with a rich imagination unique in modern fantasy.”

  —The Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation

  PRAISE FOR

  The Runes of the Earth

  “[A] landmark fantasy saga.”

  —Entertainment Weekly

  “A reawakening of a classic fantasy saga.”

  —Library Journal

  “A trilogy of remarkable scope and sophistication.”

  —Los Angeles Times

  “Startlingly original antiheroic fantasy resonating with echoes of both Tolkien and Philip K. Dick.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “An epic with page-turning intrigue.”

  —Detroit Free Press

  “Impressive . . . filled with splendid inventions.”

  —Booklist

  “The most important and original work of epic fantasy after Tolkien . . . Rich in paradox, metaphor, and symbolism . . . Donaldson’s writing remains one of the most original and intellectually challenging works to have graced contemporary epic fantasy.”

  —SF Site

  “Fans can celebrate.”

  —The Kansas City Star

  PRAISE FOR

  The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever

  “I don’t think books like this come along more than a few times in a lifetime.”

  —Marion Zimmer Bradley

  “Will certainly find a place on the small list of true classics.”

  —The Washington Post Book World

  “Covenant is Donaldson’s genius.”

  —The Village Voice

  “A feast for epic fantasy addicts.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “The most original fantasy since The Lord of the Rings.”

  —Time Out

  Novels by Stephen R. Donaldson

  The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

  THE RUNES OF THE EARTH

  FATAL REVENANT

  AGAINST ALL THINGS ENDING

  THE LAST DARK

  The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

  THE WOUNDED LAND

  THE ONE TREE

  WHITE GOLD WIELDER

  The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever

  LORD FOUL’S BANE

  THE ILLEARTH WAR

  THE POWER THAT PRESERVES

  Anthologies by Stephen R. Donaldson

  DAUGHTER OF REGALS & OTHER TALES

  REAVE THE JUST & OTHER TALES

  THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) LLC

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

  USA • Canada • UK • Ireland • Australia • New Zealand • India • South Africa • China

  penguin.com

  A Penguin Random House Company

  Copyright © 1999 by Stephen R. Donaldson.

  Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

  Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.

  ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

  eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-63751-7

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Donaldson, Stephen R.

  [Short stories. Selections]

  Reave the Just & other tales / Stephen R. Donaldson. — Ace trade paperback edition.

  pages cm

  ISBN 978-0-425-25703-6 (Trade)

  I. Title. II. Title: Reave the Just and other tales.

  PS3554.O469R42 2014

  813'.54—dc23

  2013041888

  PUBLISHING HISTORY

  Bantam Spectra hardcover edi
tion / January 1999

  Bantam Spectra mass-market edition / January 2000

  Ace trade paperback edition / February 2014

  Cover art by John Jude Palencar.

  Cover design by Sarah Oberrender.

  “What Makes Us Human”—

  First appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, 1984.

  Subsequently appeared in Berserker Base, edited by Fred Saberhagen, Tor, 1985.

  Later appeared in one of DAW’s “Year’s Best” collections.

  “The Djinn Who Watches Over the Accursed”—

  First appeared in “World Tales,” the souvenir booklet of the 1985 World Fantasy convention, © Stephen R. Donaldson.

  Later appeared in Arabesques 2, edited by Susan Shwartz, Avon, 1989.

  “Reave the Just”—

  First appeared in After the King, edited by Martin H. Greenberg, Tor, 1992.

  “The Woman Who Loved Pigs”—

  First appeared in Full Spectrum 4, edited by Lou Aronica, Amy Stout, and Betsy Mitchell, Bantam, 1993.

  “The Kings of Tarshish Shall Bring Gifts”—

  First appeared in The Book of Kings, edited by Richard Gilliam and Martin H. Greenberg, Roc, 1995.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Version_1

  TO JOHN HUMPHREYS—

  FOR GOOD THINGS WHICH WOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE OTHERWISE

  CONTENTS

  Praise for Stephen R. Donaldson

  Books by Stephen R. Donaldson

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Dedication

  Introduction

  Reave the Just

  The Djinn Who Watches Over the Accursed

  The Killing Stroke

  The Kings of Tarshish Shall Bring Gifts

  Penance

  The Woman Who Loved Pigs

  What Makes Us Human

  By Any Other Name

  About the Author

  INTRODUCTION

  As I think about it, I realize that fourteen years have passed since I last published a collection of short fiction. I’m not quite sure how that happened. Apparently I’ve spent more time than I realized writing novels.

  By contrast, all the fiction in my previous collection, Daughter of Regals and Other Tales, was composed over a six-year span, from 1977 to 1983—with the obvious exception of “Gilden-Fire,” a novel fragment originally conceived as a part of The Illearth War.

  However, the fact that I took fourteen years to produce these eight novellas and short stories does have an advantage or two for the reader.

  The first—and less interesting—benefit is that the present work was quite naturally done under more diverse conditions and circumstances than those which obtained during the writing of Daughter of Regals and Other Tales. In essence, all my previous stories came to me between the completion of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever and the publication of White Gold Wielder. They were all composed, in a manner of speaking, under Thomas Covenant’s ambiguous influence. Not so the stories here. The earliest of them predates The Mirror of Her Dreams; the most recent were completed two years after I finished work on This Day All Gods Die. For that reason, they were produced to meet a greater variety of needs and aspirations. My career as well as my life went through more changes in fourteen years than in six.

  For example, two of these stories were written “on demand”—which is emphatically not my usual approach. I wrote them not because I felt particularly inspired by them, but because I’d accepted the responsibility of writing something. In one case, “The Djinn Who Watches Over the Accursed,” I was overtaken by career concerns: I’d agreed to be a guest at the World Fantasy Convention, and my hosts wanted an original story for the program book. In the other, “What Makes Us Human,” my ego impaired my judgment: Fred Saberhagen had asked me to contribute to a “shared-world” Berserker novel he had in mind, and I wanted to prove that I belonged in the company of other writers he’d approached—among them Roger Zelazny, Poul Anderson, Ed Bryant, and Connie Willis.

  I include these two stories as examples of craft, not of art. Everything else I’ve ever written—here, in Daughter of Regals and Other Tales, and in my novels—I’ve written because I fell in love with it, believed in it, and couldn’t imagine writing anything else, not because someone asked me (or paid me) to write it.

  But there were other variables as well that didn’t impinge on my previous collection. “The Kings of Tarshish Shall Bring Gifts” came to me while I was skidding down into a catastrophic divorce; “Reave the Just” played a crucial role in my recovery afterward. “The Woman Who Loved Pigs” helped me regain my balance when I’d begun to founder in the Gap novels—specifically, between A Dark and Hungry God Arises and Chaos and Order. “By Any Other Name” brought me back from the worst case of writer’s block I’ve ever experienced.

  In retrospect, the man who produced Daughter of Regals and Other Tales seems to me to have had a remarkably uncomplicated existence.

  As it happens, the autobiographical dimension of fiction holds limited interest, at least for me. Any true storyteller draws on life to create fiction; but the interaction is so oblique, and goes through so many sea changes, that it defies explication. (A brief demonstration: which of the stories in this book responds to a lawsuit impugning my honor, both as a writer and as a father? None that I’ve mentioned so far can be excluded—although I admit that “The Djinn Who Watches Over the Accursed” and “What Makes Us Human” are unlikely candidates.)

  More interesting, I think, is the second advantage of the time span occupied by the composition of these stories. It is that the reader receives here a better glimpse of the ways in which I’m developing my gifts and skills. With experience—both personal and creative—any artist ambitious for excellence inevitably changes. And the distance between, say, “The Kings of Tarshish Shall Bring Gifts” and “The Killing Stroke” is greater than any comparable interval in Daughter of Regals and Other Tales. Fourteen years should allow enough time for the stages of the journey to reveal themselves.

  What all those changes might be, I don’t pretend to know. My sense of perspective about my work might politely be called imprecise. I suspect, however, that they will be more apparent to the reader. Nevertheless, I’m aware that my aspirations as a storyteller have gradually shifted focus, especially in the past decade. To repeat a comment I’ve made elsewhere: “I want all my characters to have dignity.” Of the many elements which combine to make up a work of fiction, I’ve been known to attend more closely to design than to character. This was particularly true in the six Covenant books. But not anymore. I’m good at design, and I no longer worry about it. Instead, I strive as carefully as I can to penetrate the hearts of my characters, so that I’ll be able to see and value them for who they are.

  I am—if I may be forgiven the expression—the only God they’ve got.

  One practical point in conclusion: the order in which these stories now appear is not the order in which they were written. I’ve rearranged them, shamelessly, for effect. The actual sequence of composition was:

  “What Makes Us Human”

  “The Djinn Who Watches Over the Accursed”

  “The Kings of Tarshish Shall Bring Gifts”

  “Reave the Just”

  “The Woman Who Loved Pigs”

  “By Any Other Name”

  “The Killing Stroke”

  “Penance”

  The first two have been very slightly revised for this edition.

  Reave the Just

  Of all the strange, unrelenting stories which surrounded Reave the Just, none expressed his particular oddness of character better than that concerning his kinsman, Jillet of Forebridge.

  Part of the oddness was t
his—that Reave and Jillet were so unlike each other that the whole idea of their kinship became difficult to credit.

  Let it be said without prejudice that Jillet was an amiable fool. No one who was not amiable would have been loved by the cautious people of Forebridge—and Jillet was loved, of that there could be no doubt. Otherwise the townsfolk would never have risked the unpredictable and often spectacular consequences of sending for Reave, merely to inform him that Jillet had disappeared. And no one who was not a fool would have gotten himself into so much trouble with Kelven Divestulata that Kelven felt compelled to dispose of him.

  In contrast, neither Reave’s enemies—of which his exploits had attracted a considerable number—nor his friends would have described him as amiable.

  Doubtless there were villages across the North Counties, towns perhaps, possibly a city or two, where Reave the Just was admired, even adulated: Forebridge was not among them. His decisions were too wild, his actions too unremitting, to meet the chary approval of the farmers and farriers, millers and masons who had known Jillet from birth.

  Like a force of nature, he was so far beyond explanation that people had ceased trying to account for him. Instead of wondering why he did what he did—or how he got away with it—the men and women of Forebridge asked themselves how such an implausible individual chanced to be kinsman to Jillet, who was himself only implausible in the degree to which likable character was combined with unreliable judgment.

  In fact, no one knew for certain that Reave and Jillet were related. Just recently, Jillet had upon occasion referred to Reave as “Reave the Just, my kinsman.” That was the true extent of the information available in Forebridge. Nothing more was revealed on the subject. In an effort to supply the lack, rumor or gossip suggested that Jillet’s mother’s sister, a woman of another town altogether, had fallen under the seduction of a carnival clown with delusions of grandeur—or, alternatively, of a knight-errant incognito—and had given Reave a bastard birth under some pitiful hedgerow, or perhaps in some nameless nunnery, or conceivably in some lord’s private bedchamber. But how the strains of blood which could produce Reave had been so entirely suppressed in Jillet, neither rumor nor gossip knew.

 
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