DiscoverEpic Fantasy

Six Hooves

By

Worth reading 😎

Generally fast-paced action sequences, and two main monster-characters you grow to love. Worth the epic fantasy read!

Synopsis

Six Hooves is a tale in the Hidden Magic anthology. Five years ago Al'rashal and her husband Urkjorman pledged ten years of service in exchange for their greatest desires. Now that service has made them the defenders of pilgrims who fear them as much as the brutal desert on the way to Karden. They must face wind, blade and worse. Can they protect these pilgrims or will they all be left bleeding on the sands?

It's difficult for me to get into an epic fantasy without the backdrop of worldbuilding behind it. I think this is because many of the epic fantasy authors I've read in the past have over 100,000 words in their first book arsenal, so a short story of epic proportions had me suspect. Seriously, how do you fit so much of a world in one novella anyway?!


That being said, I think "Six Hooves" does its job surprisingly well, even for a short story epic fantasy.


The story is part of the Hidden Magic anthology, and works in a magic system based on religion and belief. It revolves around two interesting characters, Al'rashal (a centaur) and Urkjorman (a minotaur), a wife-and-husband monster duo out to protect a set of Wayfarers on a pilgrimage. It takes place in a land of desert sands, and honestly, the author paints well enough a picture that you could almost see the setting itself.


I liked the premise of the adventure. I liked that the two main characters (and Eihn, the third minor POV) were monsters and thus shunned from regular human society. Even the gnomes had their misgivings over hiring Al and Urk as bodyguards, but they found the necessity considering both are pretty much powerhouses. They were both pretty darn indestructible throughout the story, you almost wish there was a weakness to them. (I mean, there was...but I won't get into that...)


My only caveat was the magic system itself. I know it was based on a sort of religion that was mentioned and returned to throughout the story (a marriage of powers between the monsters and the...gnomes? Or humans?), but it definitely had holes to the workings of the actual magic. Did the magic work on blind faith? Did the magic only work on gnomes and monsters? Then where did the spellcaster get his magic and why can't he get his power off of the same source? What are the rules of this magic? Too many questions, I suppose, could have been answered in a longer epic.


All the same, "Six Hooves" was a good read, and not too taxing as far as the plot goes. It wasn't the most riveting adventure I've come across, but worth reading for Al and Urk's numerous quips to each other, if nothing else.

Reviewed by

It goes without saying that reading is my jam and reviewing is a way for me to rant or rave about a book to anyone who will listen. I've been a steady book reviewer for the past several years on my blog, though I've kept a Goodreads account even longer than that.

Synopsis

Six Hooves is a tale in the Hidden Magic anthology. Five years ago Al'rashal and her husband Urkjorman pledged ten years of service in exchange for their greatest desires. Now that service has made them the defenders of pilgrims who fear them as much as the brutal desert on the way to Karden. They must face wind, blade and worse. Can they protect these pilgrims or will they all be left bleeding on the sands?

Chapter One: Monsters

 

“I don’t know what’s worse, the monsters or the heat,” lamented Eihn as he struggled to gut the reptilian thing before him.

“I don’t know what’s worse,” echoed Kafiel, the elf next to him, “the monsters that try to eat us, or the ones protecting us.”

Laughter, booming like thunder, drew all eyes across the sands to where their monsters lay. Al’rashal pinned one of the reptiles to the ground with her man-catcher. The scaly thing struggled to free itself, but the centaur put the full weight of her body into holding the creature in place as her husband, Urkjorman, lumbered up to it. The minotaur took his time lining up a swing with the long, iron-studded pole he used as a defensive weapon and struck. Blood washed the sands as fragments of bone and flesh exploded from the creature’s skull. Once more, booming laughter filled the air as the minotaur reveled in the shower of gore.

The elf shuddered, then turned from the scene of the two making sport of the creatures to focus on gutting the one before him.

The centaur and her husband looked around, seemingly disappointed there were no more creatures to kill and dragged the last two corpses back to the circle of wagons and threw them on the pile with four others.

Master Muraheim seemed to have been angered by the display of violence and marched up to the two. The old gnome had to crane his neck considerably to look up at the two demi-humans, but he seemed utterly uncaring by the size difference.

“Enough,” ordered Muraheim. “This is not your time to make sport!”

The minotaur looked to his wife, who shrugged in response and returned his attention to the gnome. “Our sport keeps you alive and fed, Master Muraheim.”

“I do not like your revelry.”

Urk took a deep breath and moved as though to take a step forward but Al placed a hand to his chest to stop him.

“Monsters,” Al began, “can’t be reasoned with, Master Muraheim. So, we need to use more aggressive methods to protect you from them.”

The gnome looked at the two and turned about to walk away. “You are right, monsters cannot be reasoned with.”

Al raised to her hind legs as though to kick the gnome but came down without incident. Eihn turned to his master when he neared. “I don’t think angering them is right, Master. They —”

“Have a job to do,” said the old gnome, cutting Eihn off. “Get us to Karden so you and the other neophytes may dedicate to Mehrindai. I do not care if they are mad the whole way there and back. They will serve or answer to the baron for their failure.”

Eihn wanted to say more, but he was interrupted as a high-pitched shriek tore through the air.

All eyes cast about in alarm as the shriek was followed by a second and then dozens more as small, malformed creatures pulled from the sands about the caravan. They raised crude, ill-maintained weapons to the sky and demanded something in some guttural version of the language common to the area.

“Goblins,” shouted Urkjorman with something that sounded like relish. “Al’rashal! Charge!”


About the author

I'm an aspiring author who's just hit the scene. My stories range from the far future to realms of magic and monsters with yet more to come. I'm looking forward to showing you all the great stories I'm producing and sharing the amazing ones' I'm reading. view profile

Published on February 10, 2020

Published by Magical Mayhem

20000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Reviewed by

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