SSM Guest Review: Dirae by Peter S Beagle from Amanda Rutter

Title: Dirae
Author: Peter S Beagle
Anthology: Warriors
Editors: George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Publisher: Tor US

When I read The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, I was enchanted by the lyrical quality of the prose and the vivid imagination of the storytelling. It was a novel that stayed with me long after the last page had been turned, and, even though I’ve only read it once (something that needs rectifying), I recommend it fiercely as one of those fantasy novels people MUST read.

So, when Gav announced SSAM and I realised that the Warriors anthology contained a short story – Dirae – by Peter S. Beagle, I decided that this should be my contribution.

Over the course of 20 pages, Beagle introduces us to a strange character – someone who is dealing revenge and retribution, rescuing the needy and the weak, but who does not know their own name. This character fades in and out of darkness, always appearing where they are least expected and most needed.

The writing is superlative: starting off staccato and yet dreamlike in our first introduction to the character. We are confused alongside the main character – the “warrior” – as we wonder who this person is, why they are drifting through darkness, how they appear in different locations around the city. As each passage expands and our understanding grows, the writing becomes vibrant with unspoken anger and passion. Throughout the whole story, there is a sadness and distance which fits perfectly with the final few paragraphs.

Beagle has written a tight, taut story which can be enjoyed and savoured many times to find true understanding as to the nature of this character we spend all-too-brief a time with. Highly recommended.

Amanda is one of those infectious people whose passion from books really rubs off – I’m currently jealous as she’s read 5o books so far this year. She runs a mean blog at Floor to Ceiling Blogs packed full of treasures

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