In “The King’s Justice,” a stranger dressed in black arrives in the village of Settle’s Crossways, following the scent of a terrible crime. He even calls himself Black, though almost certainly that is not his name. The people of the village discover that they have a surprising urge to cooperate with this stranger, though the desire of inhabitants of quiet villages to cooperate with strangers is not common in their land, or most lands. But this gift will not save him as he discovers the nature of the evil concealed in Settle’s Crossways.
The “Augur’s Gambit” is a daring plan created by Mayhew Gordian, Hieronomer to the Queen of Indemnie, a plan to save his Queen and his country. Gordian is a reader of entrails. In the bodies of chickens, lambs, piglets, and one stillborn infant he sees the same message: the island nation of Indemnie is doomed. But even in the face of certain destruction a man may fight, and the Hieronomer is utterly loyal to his beautiful Queenand to her only daughter. The “Augur’s Gambit” is his mad attempt to save a kingdom
Readers either seem to love or hate Donaldson’s books making these two novellas a good way to determine if Donaldson’s writing is your cup of tea. They are “stand alone” in that they are not a part of any of Donaldson’s series. Each is a fully contained story with an interesting lead character and worldbuilding and each has a satisfying ending while also making it clear they would work as the beginning of a series. Recommended for Donaldson fans, of course, and as an introduction to his works for new fans. ~~ CLD
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