Spoiler Free Summary: The Decoy by Janny Wurts is the seventh story in the Unfettered II Anthology. A young distant descendent of the throne is tasked with reaching the castle, where the entire royal family has reportedly been murdered. What role will this young man play in a rebellion that may change the inheritance for generations?
Character: While they didn’t capture me completely, I did enjoy this character in the moment. Most stories are like this one was, a fun adventure that held your attention until the story was over. These characters were a lot like that. I remembered this story a bit better because of these characters and their deep backgrounds and interesting motivations. It’s a credit to the author.
Exposition: This story is taken from a larger world I’m not familiar with. So there was a bit more exposition here than maybe someone would like, but it’s at least necessary for the reader to truly know the world. I think anyone reading a part of a story is either going to want that background or want to read the story because they’re fans of the universe. That means that even though we might have to suffer through a bit more exposition than we want, we go into this story with open eyes, knowing it has to happen so we know what’s going on.
Worldbuilding: To me this was the weakest part of the story. This felt like an old sword and knights tale, which is fine for fans of the genre, but I was hoping for a bit more fantasy. This isn’t truly a discredit to the author, just a difference in taste of style. The author does a good job (requiring the aforementioned exposition) of setting the scene and the tone of the world, but I wasn’t very clear how this world fit into this or another universe. What I mean is I don’t know if I was reading fantasy taking place in the bronze age of earth or in a similar period on another planet. To defend the author, and hour-long story doesn’t give anyone much time to give depth to the world. The other defense is that this is truly part of a larger series, so if anyone really wanted to see more about this world, they could just go find book one.
Dialogue: This was pretty middle-of-the-road in my opinion. It wasn’t thinly veiled exposition, but I don’t know that I could say each character had a distinct voice. Still, the dialogue had a few moments that were touching, and that’s all I think a story hast to have.
Description: Like most stories, I measure my feelings in this category by a question: Can I picture the story without feeling like I’m being beaten down by description. This story met that criterion. The author probably did a better job using the sense of sight than the others, but as I tend to rely on that most, I don’t realize the others are lacking until I go back and look for it.
Overall: This is a nice sort of adventure fantasy. It bases its value of entertainment on the suspense of the riots and revolt that are happening. If you like horse-riding and cat and mouse drama, you’ll probably enjoy the story. I need a bit more magic and fighting in my entertainment, personally, but don’t let that turn you away from a well-written story.
Thanks for reading