2 of 5 stars.
Folktales often embed morals, overtly or surreptitiously, much like the ancient myths depicting interactions between immortals and mortals. One could expect that this tale would do the same as it chronicles some weeks in the life of Tom, a human boy working for a god–and not just any god, but the god of the love of money aka greed. The tale is primed and ready, but then fails to offer a moral nor even sensible rules for what this god represents. Perhaps inconsistency and hypocrisy are the underlying themes . . .
Tom is the latest in a series of servant boys [always with black hair, large purple eyes and white teeth] working for the god of the love of money [GotLoM]. He goes out begging, and those that give him a coin are paid back with a mysterious bruise or cut in the weeks that follow. [Despite the givers not being greedy if they gave alms.] Tom then takes the coins and melts them down into armor for GotLoM. The sweat of greedy palms makes for stronger armor. GotLoM then goes out armored to slay or abuse those who have been greedy in the past.
He also tends to churn through boys–dispensing those that have been greedy or offered fresh, uncirculated coins into the armor vat, or who’ve used coins not given as alms to the boy. Tom just wants to survive and gain his freedom, even if it means growing older . . .
This tale appears in Street Magicks edited by Paula Guran. I received this new anthology from Netgalley. The short story was originally published in Dark Regions #16 [Fall 2001]. I’ve previously reviewed this author’s “The Nursery Corner”.
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