Tales of Ruma goes on sale today. I’ve gotten a chance to read the stories. The anthology is a relentless, grimdark, experience. The authors excel in crafting brutal stories, tragic tales, and weaving prose into a violent, punchy, form. The standout story to my eye is “A God of Death” by D.J. Butler, but I’m going to give a quick rundown of each after the jump.
“The Question That Matters” by Jody Lynn Nye (the second time we’ve been ToC buddies) contributed a story where Zeus’ illegitimate children conspire to get their father to acknowledge them.
“A God of Death” by D.J. Butler tells a gripping grimdark story of captives and sacrifice, gods and magic. A retired soldier gets pulled into a conflict he didn’t start, but sure as hell finishes.
“Plough This Earth and Sow It With Salt” Daniel Hand retells the story of the end of the Third Punic War in the Ruma: Dawn of Empire world. The battle is rendered in vivid, gruesome, beautiful prose. And there’s a clash of divine giants. It’s great.
“Unarmored” Aaron Michael Ritchey is a story of battle both external as the forces of Rome clash with those of Carthage, and internal as the protagonist is an outsider struggling to deal with past traumas and present slights.
“The Final Sundering of Hellas” is my contribution to the anthology. Though loyal to his king, a mysterious woman gives Pausanias a command he cannot disobey: kill the king or your family dies. With almost every option leading to the grave, Pausanias must chart a delicate course if he wants to escape with his life and the lives of those he cares about.
“Flying in Darkness” by David Farland is a very short piece about a woman who takes Daedalus’ wings, obeys his warning not to fly too close to the sun, but may still find herself in a deadly situation.
“The Truth Seeker” by Andrew Dunlop is a swords and sandals take on Sherlock Holmes. In the wake of an attack on a festival, the Legion turns to a natural philosopher with a history of solving crimes to get to the bottom of what happened.
“Objects of Allegiance” by Julie Frost is a werewolf story set in the Empire’s frontier. Perhaps there are drawbacks to the Empire weaponizing lycanthropy…
“The Vanished Legions” by Kristin Janz is a story that contemplates the fates of Rome’s most famous “lost legions.” What if the Ninth Legion wasn’t destroyed, or Crassus did not perish at the hands of the Parthians, what if they went… elsewhere?
“The Last Titan” by Quincy J. Allen is a slow building origin story for a legendary terror.
“Storm Warning” by Robert Bagnall is the story of a boy who can foretell storms, and what misfortune could come from such a seemingly positive gift. Bagnall capture the “fairy tale” voice extremely well in this sad story.
“By Any Particular Means” by R. Jon Rock shows that nothing much good can come of engaging dark magic to create a cursed ring and renders the violence in exquisite detail.
“From the Pan to the Flames” by Ethan Hedman is a fun and violent romp that tells the story of an ambush, and how the off guard soldiers use any weapon available to defend themselves.
“The Cost of Arrogance” by Steve Diamond, betrayed, imprisoned, and thirsty for revenge, what prices must be paid for the favor of the gods?
“The Stone Garden” Martin Greening is the editor of Tales of Ruma, and creator of the Ruma: Dawn of Empire tabletop game that inspired it all. In “The Stone Garden” Martin uses point of view extremely well to tell an atmospheric and sad tale about a young woman and the mother that might not be what she seems.
“I Flavia Cilicum” by Don Perrin gives us a foreboding tomb, devious traps, and evokes the spirit of an old familiar dungeon crawl.