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aka Mpala

Mercy (Sentinel)

Reviewed by Kathryn A on 11th September 2000

When I read "Hunted", the author declared that she owed a debt to Impala's "Mercy", so it was on my list of to-be-read stories. There's some winsome stuff in this story. The style is... oblique, and somewhat contemplative, melancholy. Take the first paragraph:

His eyes scanned the horizon and by discriminate choice allowed himself the perspective of normalicy. Unaware of anything except that which he sought, he focussed totally on the desired form. It had been a long time... almost too long to hold out any semblance of hope, but the feeling of him would never allow for such an inferior belief. Held in context of the one who was lost, it simply did not matter. You merely scanned the horizon. First as a man, then as something more.

This turns out to be just another way of saying "Blair was missing. And Jim was looking for him." A more interesting way. Sometimes the style gets too oblique, and I couldn't quite follow what was being implied, and if it had been like this all the way through it would have been too dense, but we do actually have conversations here as well. I also liked very much the quotes at the beginnings of sections.

Plotwise... this story wasn't so much about plot as it was painting the changing picture of Jim's soul. The plot was more in the background, the important thing was Jim's reactions. What little plot there was, seemed reasonable enough, until I got to the end. Then I felt as if the story had only been half told. Too many unanswered questions, the biggest of which was why? What was going on with Sandburg? We never find out. This story is crying out for a companion piece from Blair's point of view, or at the least, a sequel with an explanation.