"Kormac the Lucky" by Eleanor Arnason has its problems. Like many other stories in the July/August issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, it was written in 3rd-narrative. That's not inherently bad, and this story does have a fairy-tale atmosphere to it, but it is not a children's story. Some stories can get away with that. This one doesn't fair too well.
The characters in "Kormak the Lucky" were adequately done. There is plenty of room for improvement. Kormak, partially because of the 3rd-narrative POV, was not as powerful as he should have been. His title never shone through well. Sure, he caught a few good breaks, but not enough to call him "The Lucky". For a novelette, the number of characters was around the upper limit. Luckily (pun-intended), the names were differ enough to keep confusion from occurring. All things aside, no character was a star; the story lost something because of it.
This story's plot is interesting. It's almost episodic, with strands of plot converging at the end. The biggest disappointment was the few pieces that didn't get tied up in the resolute bow. It's a forgivable offense, but one that probably should have been edited away. I think Ms. Arnason was trying to add an element of mystery at the end of her story, yet it didn't quite go as planned, if that is indeed the case. The pacing of the story suited its length. Almost everything that happened was interesting. Not bad.
Being a fantasy story, setting had to be done well for success. It was the strongest point here. While not 100% original, it put an urban fantasy spin on things that felt refreshing. Descriptions were done well, although they could have been executed a little better. The POV's weaknesses shown through quite often, which took a bite out of the story's appeal.
All in all, "Kormac the Lucky" gets a middling response. I have to give it an 82% for noticeable problems.
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