Stonefather by Orson Scott Card

stonefather_72dpi“When Runnel was born, he was given a water name even though there had never been a wetwizard in the family.

In the old days such names were given only to those babies as would be sacrificed to Yeggut, the water god. Later, such names were given to those whould would live to serve as priests to Yeggut. Still later, wetnames went to children of families thath pretended they once had a watermage in their ancestry.

But now, in the village o Farzibeck, wetnames were given because the mother was fond of a nearby brooklet or because the father had a freind with such a name.”

So begins Stonefather by Orson Scott Card. It tells the tale of Runnel who is the ninth son and fifteenth child of a farmwife who likes all her children well enough but calls them all “by each other’s names and didn’t know enough numbers to take a census and notice when one or two were missing.”  He’s also the son a man who beats him. Eventually, Runnel leaves home and seeks his fortunes in Mitherhome, the big city far to the south.

This isn’t a full novel, but a novella of 112 pages. However, the Subterranean Press edition has a glorious cover and ink illustrations inside. More importantly, the story tells a tale that’s full of wonder, humor, and a number of delightful characters. It reminded me of the best of Card’s Hatrack books. But, of course, this world is very different. It’s strange, and I was happy to explore it with Runnel as my guide. Take an hour to read this. You won’t be disappointed. Then you can look forward, as I do, to the first of the Mithermage novels based on this world.

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