When I sampled this short story, I was in the process of reading David Gemmell’s Troy series, so that type of epic fantasy writing was what I was accustom to. Imagine my surprise when I found “From Man to Man” as a free download and discovered an indie author writing a fantasy tale with that same sort of realistic action and characters. I was absolutely amazed and excited, especially since this was just a teaser for his upcoming series Wroge Elements.
The story here centers on Draven Reinhardt: an accomplished warrior, former mercenary (At least that was my assumption based on clues) and loving husband/father. Draven is attempting to abandon his bloodletting ways and settle down as an average, salt of the earth villager. Naturally, our former mercenary struggles to fit in, let alone hold down a job. I mean, he is great at cutting down trees with his axe, even though he swings it more like he is cleaving necks than branches, but how many trees does a small village really need cut?
Not enough for Draven to take care of his family unfortunately. So when a chance to make a little extra coin comes his way, our merc turned villager finds himself in a horrible situation. For on one hand, he has made a promise to his wife that he will never go back to his old ways, but on the other, he knows he will never be able to survive as a normal villager, because his best work skill is killing other men. That is the moral dilemma examined here.
Draven’s decision and its consequences progress on from there, and Mr. Emrys spins a very entertaining yarn out of it, twisting our warrior villager this way and that as he tries to be true to his promise but also take care of his family. Added to this a reader is presented with a realistic setting (though the world building is very short) as well as one action scene at the end of the tale, where Mr. Emrys excels at presenting a rousing and intense struggle without overdoing the details. So all in all, this is an entertaining short story as well as a great primer for Emrys’ Wroge Elements series.