In the year of the forked serpent, Kurval came from beyond the sea, slew King Orkol and became King of Azakoria.
But Kurval’s reign is not an easy one. The people of Azakoria despise him as an uncouth barbarian, the nobles plot against him and assassination attempts are a frequent occurrence.
One day, a hooded assassin tries to stab Kurval during an audience. Kurval is shocked, when the assassin is revealed to be a young woman, Nelaira, daughter of a minor noble. But why would a girl of nineteen throw away her life on a futile assassination attempt?
As Kurval investigates Nelaira’s motives, he finds that he does not want to hang her. But he is king now and a king has to do his duty. Or does he?
This is a romantic novelette of 9000 words or approx. 30 print pages in the Kurval sword and sorcery series, but may be read as a standalone. Includes an introduction and afterword.
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- King’s Justice is a novelette of 9000 words or approximately 30 print pages in the Kurval series, but may be read as a standalone. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
- King’s Justice was one of the stories written during the 2020 July Short Story Challenge, where the aim was to write a short story per day in July 2020.
- Like many July Short Story Challenge stories, King’s Justice was inspired by two pieces of artwork, an image of a hooded assassin confronting a king on his throne for which I can’t for the life of me find the link, as well as Rene Magritte’s 1928 painting “The Lovers II”, in which a hooded couple shares a passionate kiss.
- Initially, King’s Justice was supposed to be a pure historical story, but it just didn’t work out, so I decided to set it in a fantasy setting and make it a sword and sorcery tale instead.
- Now I do have an established sword and sorcery series with the adventures of Thurvok and his friends. However, since the protagonist of King’s Justice had to be a king, it didn’t fit into the Thurvok series, because Thurvok is perfectly happy being a wandering adventurer and has no desire to be king and Meldom should never be put in charge of anything really. So I created a new character named Kurval.
- The Thurvok stories sit on the lighter end of the sword and sorcery spectrum, in spite of plenty of monsters, skeletons and resurrected corpses, and closer to Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser (though there are plenty of dark Leiber stories as well) than to Conan and Jirel of Joiry. “King’s Justice” is more Robert E. Howard, particularly the Kull stories and The Hour of the Dragon/Conan the Conqueror. Though the ending is happier than what Howard or Moore would have written.
- King’s Justice was originally written as a standalone, but it won’t remain one forever, because I like Kurval and I can use him to tell stories that don’t fit into the Thurvok series.
- Unlike most of my other stories, King’s Justice series is credited to Richard Blakemore, whom regular readers will recognise as the pulp writer protagonist of the Silencer series. As for why my sword and sorcery fiction is credited to Richard Blakemore, in the Silencer story Mean Streets and Dead Alleys, Richard purchases the January 1936 issue of Weird Tales and is pleased to find a new instalment of a Conan serial by Robert E. Howard, a Jirel of Joiry novelette by C.L. Moore, a Jules de Grandin novelette by Seabury Quinn as well as one of Margaret Brundage’s famous covers. He also muses that he would like to take a stab at writing something like that one day. This throwaway scene got me thinking, “What if Richard actually did write a sword and sorcery series for Jake Levonsky?”
- When I found myself writing what would become the first Thurvok adventure for the July short story challenge some time later, I suddenly wondered, “What if this was Richard Blakemore’s lost sword and sorcery series?” And so I decided to credit the story to Richard and pass myself off as the editor who rediscovered him. I even created a blog, a Twitter account and an Amazon author page for Richard and filled out a Smashwords interview in his persona.
- The cover is stock art by Mike Heywood.