by Ash Warren
And so we come to the last part of our each of our serial quartets for The Queen’s Cryptographer Award.
The final installments of this award were the most closely contested from the judge’s point of view and possibly from the point of view of many of the readers as well. As each writer takes us to the climax of their respective tales, it is interesting to note that each of them seems to have dug a little deeper, given more of themselves in terms of psychological depth and also produced their best writing in these last pieces.
As I have lived in Japan for over a quarter of a century now, I have been following Morgan’s story closely. What a lovely finish this was though, beautiful and imaginative. This from Misty Mountains:
He guides me gently towards the cliff side and I look over the landscape. Below stands the former capital, the palace an eyesore against the cityscape. Beyond that lays rice fields and small villages littered about. The day has come for the sky goes from darkness to light, the sun rising slowly as we stand in the chill morning air.
“It’s beautiful.” I breathe in the fresh mountain air.
Jessica Seymour continues to dazzle with a very exciting conclusion to cap off her excellent series: A Painted Map with particularly strong characterization evident in her two protagonists:
Gerwar holds a scabbard in both hands, a polished, double-handed hilt reflecting in the torchlight. He draws the sword and they both take a moment to admire the craftsmanship. It is a damn fine weapon.
“Sætarspillir,” Gerwar says. Their eyes lock over the blade.
“You’ve solved my riddle.”
They both flinch and turn. Grimsdatter stands behind them, the torchlight making her wrinkles seem deeper and her eyes wilder. Her hand is wrapped around a rope that rises up into arc of the entrance.
Sam Aro will be a writer to watch in the future. Very nice twist at the end and also I was interested to see this revelation about the hidden acronyms in the characters names. This final piece from Of Blood and Shadows:
With slow steps Dan reached the stable door and pushed it open. The singing stopped immediately and he walked in. Raffia and Tuygil lay beside each other in the hay, heads now turned towards the door.
“I still remember” Dan started. “The night you sang that song to me. You told me that you loved me, and that you needed no-one else.” He had to swallow before continuing. “I guess you were wrong.”
And of course now for our final winner. This award was hotly contested with just 0.4 points between the first and third places. It’s with pleasure though to announce that Jessica has made this a clean sweep, winning her 4th straight prize.
Congratulations to all three writers, a magnificent effort! We all look forward to seeing more of your work here.