Reviews of Reave the Just and Other Tales (1998)
Review by clong (2005-08-29)
This is an ambitious collection from Donaldson, with most of the tales being variations on the theme that folks have to take personal responsibility to fight injustice and those who would do them harm. The stories are fairly long, mostly novelette length (averaging about 60 pages each in the paperback).
I don't see how anyone could dispute that Donaldson is an accomplished storyteller, and most of these are very well constructed. Characters are strongly drawn, although not always sympathetic. The closing story, By Any Other Name, at times seemed to very clearly emulate the language and style of Edgar Allen Poe.
The opening and closing stories, Reave the Just and By Any Other Name, have many parallels, each telling the story of a mysterious outsider who arrives to mete out justice to the evil and the good alike (although they are set in very different fantasy worlds). The Killing Stroke, The Woman Who Loved Pigs, and Penance were ambitious and compelling tells, that didn't quite achieve their full potential. To my taste, the weakest entries were The Kings of Tarshish Shall Bring Gifts and What Makes Us Human (the sole science fiction tale in the bunch). I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Donaldson includes a fair amount of sex, and that very little of it is of a consensual, loving nature. I must say that I had a hard time with the arbiter of justice in the title story telling a serial rape victim that she didn't deserve help if she wasn't trying her hardest to kill her rapist.