2 of 5 stars.
Lying between folktale and myth, this Nigerian-based tale centers on supernatural royals and demi-gods exiled together. Two gods have disappeared and the ruling king and queen are dead. The four princes have been secluded until it is determined which has been divinely chosen to rule. The youngest of the four narrates and seems the most in tune to his surroundings, including to the presence of the missing nefarious goddess within the large tree on the grounds of the princes’ cabins.
Like folkloric trials, the young prince notices a series of 3 toxic animals [a scorpion, a snake and a spider] stalking his 3 brothers [one to each] under the power of the tree-trapped goddess. He stops each. The brother demands the almost offending animal killed. The youngest brother refuses, and then is stung or bitten by each before it disappears. The same pattern replays for each.
The youngest brother alone recognizes the innate cruelty in the older brothers. But also in the goddess. And in himself . . .
The tale doesn’t develop far beyond this series of events, nor does it truly get into the pre-history between the gods and parents. Also, the brothers are merely caricatures.
This tale was a quarterly contest winner appearing in Writers of the Future: Volume 33 edited by David Farland.
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