The Golden Daemon by Tony Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Golden Daemon by Tony Jones
I will first make it clear that I'm not a fan of short stories that are sold as one offs and certainly not a fan of Amazon's 'no apparent base word-length limit' 99 cent [books]. Short stories belong in a magazine, anthology or possibly a book of the authors best containing ten or more tales. That much said this one is not bad as they go. Most I have seen in Amazon tend to end up being parts of a serial which is spread out into chunks of around 50 pages each which may be close to 17000 words. This one is only around 8500 words but it does come to an end and that's one thing it has in it's favor. It's complete.
A difficulty with short stories is that they are not well suited to introducing the reader to characters. So it's more about the story itself and that's where this one has me baffled. This reads almost like a story for grim faery tales or one thousand and one nights. But I was left at the end with a lack of clarity as to what the actual plot point of the story is.
The best that I could come up with is that everything comes with a price especially when pilfering ancient artifacts. And... That price does not necessarily have to be paid by the one seeking, if they bring along enough victims.
The main character, Jad, is actually one of the victims and just doesn't know it. Jad is at best a mercenary; a soldier of fortune. He seems rather lazy; laid-back and content to stay in his room unless he wants a spot of ale and he certainly doesn't want company. It's unclear how he gets involved in the first place because it's very borderline to being out of his character, but this is a short story so it might be that we've been shorted on some valuable insight. Still as we progress it seems less likely that it's lack of character development any more than it's just lack of character.
The reason I say this is because after he steps in to help the woman who's of a race he has been at war with and might even have said he hates; she pays him in gold asking him to meet her at the big city to get another equal amount of gold coin and then proceed from there on a job he will be paid for, and his first thought is that he doesn't need the rest of the coin because that small bit of gold will last him. It's only after his landlord boots him, because of his having helped the woman, that he goes to the big city and even then he is only mildly curious about the job and it's not until he gains the second bag of gold coin that he feels any obligation to help.
Truly not knowing what to expect they set out on their adventure, where they are to meet with a third party for the expedition. There is a gratuitous sex scene; I say this because it does not move the story forward and it doesn't seem to effect their relationship either way and frankly, knowing what we do about the man, it seems inexplicable; but it's there. There are some grammar and punctuation problems which I mention because as stories get shorter and shorter I find such errors a bit harder to pass up mentioning.
I was expecting possibly some sort of moral at the end, but if there is one there it went by me.
This would be a great addition to any group of shorts or anthology or maybe even part of a whole story, but it seems a bit off for such a brief piece and as a standalone it seems overpriced.
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