Reviews: The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

Shorts: The Prevaricator

The Prevaricator weaves a clever story of fraud and corruption, providing a magical solution to a greedy man intent on scamming his way to wealth and untold riches. With wizards, demons and unsuspecting victims, this caper tale provides a big helping of amusement with a side of morality.

THE PREVARICATOR

Matthew Hughes
The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August 2018

Spoiler

STORY

It’s a thief story, following a boy as he grows into a man, continuously upping his cons until they become unmanageable. The start is very clever, showing a boy who realizes he can con people simply by crying and getting paid to stop. He ultimately goes to far as he aligns himself with a wizard and pretends to be the servant of a much more powerful wizard, which comes back to bite him in the ass at the end. There’s a steady pace that keeps the story on track through a variety of shenanigans. A demon is thrown into the mix as well, though we’re kept in the dark on its full abilities.


CHARACTERS

The main character is a man who learned an important lesson early in life – his tears could produce money. He adapts this in his adulthood to large-scale scams of whole towns. He’s an overly confident con-artist who gets ahead of himself and ends up in a sticky situation. The tale is infinitely readable and fun, with a great progression as the main character gets in over his head without the resolve to step away from the situation. I imagine the wizard to be a low-level guy, definitely at the bottom of his class in wizard school (were that a thing in this world). He doesn’t seem to have the means to achieve the greatness he desires, and he’s obviously willing to get this man into deep trouble if it’ll help him achieve his goals. They’re both conning someone in the end.


SETTING

The story takes place across a series of towns where the main character sidles up to the townspeople and swindles them out of their fortunes. They’re pretty nondescript little towns yet they have two things in common: an awe of wealthy people and a fear of magic. They make for an easy-to-con crowd.


CONCEPTS

Con Artist, Fantasy, Magic, Wizard, Demons

Interested in more stories like The Prevaricator? Check out more reviews in our The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction section.

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