Stephen Donaldson, best known for his classic fantasy epic about Thomas Covenant, also published two short story collections. "Reave The Just And Other Tales" is his second collection. Although uneven in quality, there are lots of goodies here for Donaldson fans.

Apart from the duology "Mordant's Need", Donaldson's work is often serious in tone, dealing with moral or ethical questions. Likewise, the stories in this collection seem to focus mostly on themes like justice, sin and redemption. In other words, don't go for this one if you're looking for a light, fun read.

Donaldson likes to draw his moral dramas with broad strokes and wide settings. When using the shorter form, the intensity] of the moral drama becomes so strong that the tales resemble parables rather than short stories. Specifically in "The Djinn Who Watches Over The Accursed" and in the title story, the protagonists resemble incarnations of ideas, not so much real people. Combined with Donaldson's formal, stately prose style, this often leads to a "processional pace and mood", to quote another review.

Favorite stories are "Penance", one of the most moving and psychologically insightful vampire stories I ever read, and "The Djinn Who Watches Over The Accursed", an interesting and fable-like meditation on being cursed. Other very strong entries: "The Kings of Tarshish Shall Bring Gifts" and "The Woman Who Loved Pigs". The only real clunker in this collection is "What Makes Us Human". It's the only science fiction story in this predominantly fantasy collection. Apart from that, the lighter style makes it seem a bit of a throw-away story. Not surprisingly, this is the oldest story in the collection.

Over all, this is a strong collection. Donaldson, a master of the long form, demonstrates that he can condense his style effectively in shorter works.

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