I’m so used to waiting ten or fifteen years for a new work from Stephen R. Donaldson, that I was totally shocked to see The King’s Justice. There are two novellas here, The King’s Justice and Augur’s Gambit. Both are set in magical worlds where the use of magic takes its toll on its users. These are stories with big words and often bothersome names. The cast of Augur’s Gambit includes Inimica Phlegathon decry the Fourth, the Queen’s Hieronomer, and her daughter Excrucia. Geez Louise. On the flip side, the hero of the King’s Justice is named Black.
The stories are good. Standard issue Donaldson. Tortured people making impossible decisions against insurmountable odds. The only real gripe is that the stories are too damned short. Donaldson doesn’t really get going until around page three hundred of the second book, so these stories felt more like opening chapters than complete works. I liked them, but I would also like to see more of them.
I listened to the audio book. The stories are read by Scott Brick and Kevin Orton. Scott Brick delivers his usual perfect work in The King’s Justice and Kevin Orton sounds good reading Augur’s Gambit. Donaldson’s work is always a challenge for any reader, he loves obscure and often made up words as well as giving his people names that are at best open to some interpretation.
All of Donaldson’s fantasy and science fiction are brilliant. These stories fit in well with the works collected in Reave The Just and Daughter of Regals and Other Tales. I loved his SciFi epic The Gap Cycle as well. His short story based on the Berserker universe, What Makes Us Human, was easily my favorite in the series.
Donaldson lost his way in the middle of the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, but he recovered in the finial book and he proves he still has his touch with The King’s Justice. I highly recommend it.