08 April 2021
Plus a fair bit of heart
Tales from the Crucible is an anthology of stories set in Richard Garfield’s Keyforge, a world previously limited to a card game that now explodes into fiction. The plan of course, from publishers Aconyte Books, is to expand on popular worlds, and it’s fair to say this certainly does that.
The book consists of nine short stories by differing authors, and whilst it’s natural to pick out favourites, there’s no real complaint to be had for any of them. As a set, the tales manage to blend together beautifully, whereby there’s no jarring between writing styles, yet managing to cover huge reaches and experiences within the Crucible. There are tales from an animal healer who comes to accidentally rely on an ill intentioned imp, to a brazen thief believing themselves untouchable, from an engineer trying to fix the bot that saved her life, to the mother frantically collecting books to keep her daughter from disappearing – who accidentally becomes the leader of a small but varied gang after unintentionally murdering its leader. It’s unpredictable where the next story will take you, but never detracting.
The biggest surprise in reading Tales from the Crucible though, is the amount of heart in it. Each story is emotive, whether it’s an underlying tale of grief, envy, loneliness, or others, and it’s easy to invest in each of the characters at the centre even in the short stories presented. Each has a fair ending, whether it’s the outcome you expected or not, and each story and character has their tale told well, so you don't begrudge the end of one tale to start the next. There’s no need to be familiar with Keyforge to enjoy the books, as the book will take you to far corners of its world regardless, and it instead offers a fun and easy look into the vast world that anyone can pick up.
Editor: Charlotte Llewelyn-Wells
Publisher: Aconyte books
This feature originally appeared in Issue 54 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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