Title: The Eyes Have It
Author: Randall Garrett
Source: Lord Darcy by Randall Garrett (Fantasy Masterworks )
This short story can be summed up as a classical-feeling detective story set in an alternative reality with a magical twist. It welcomes you to a world where the Plantagenet kings survived, where the laws of magic were discover and physical sciences where never pursued. Not that we’re fed all that in one go. Instead we’re thrown in the deep end.
We start, as these things do, with the discovery of a body, which unfolds into an analysis of the relationships between the main suspects. We are also introduced to Lord Darcy and his forensic sorcerer, Master Sean O’Lochlainn, though Lord Darcy is definitely the boss.
It feels very grande. The characters and setting are social elite and Garrett seems to revel in the setting and the characters. The alternative reality feels natural and the use of magic, being licensed by the Church, is a nice twist – especially the pseudo-science-method of explanation.
As a piece of fantasy it is evocative and as detective fiction Garrett makes it work very well. I think the setting and the characters are more interesting than the murder itself, though it has its moments.
As an introduction I’m intrigued and I’m keen to see what direction it goes in next. This collection has nine other short stories and a novel so I’m going to have the chance to find out.