Publisher: Drew Alexander Avera (2015)
Length: 17 pages
Mikael and his friend Geoff are about to have the worst day of their young lives. Set in a sweeping backdrop of empires and dynasties, this one walled off city is about to learn a hard truth.
I’m no stranger to the works of Drew Avera and have enjoyed several of his short stories and novels. In this particular tale, the focus is primarily on Mikael and a few hours of his life. His looks set him apart from the other citizens of Felestia and he takes some teasing for that. He’s often wondered about his parentage. His good friend Geoff doesn’t care about his looks. Mikael runs afoul of the Enforcers when he stumbles upon an odd sight. What follows is the reveal of a big ploy that is being played on all the citizens.
So if you have read Avera’s Reich, which I have, then you will note that the main plot device in Ruse is the same as a major plot device used in Reich. Because of that, I could see very early on where the story was going and therefore I believe I had less enjoyment in this tale than I would have otherwise. The plot device was shortened and lifted from a future Earth to this city of Felestia and the names of the characters were changed. Quite frankly, I felt just a touch cheated that Avera hadn’t given me anything new in this story.
Setting that aside, Felestia is described as this utopian society but the story never shows us what that means for the citizens. The tale focuses very tightly on Mikael, so we see very little of what is going on outside of these few hours in his life. I would have liked a little more on the setting to flesh things out.
The plot does move along very quickly and so I was never bored with it. Mikael is the underdog hero of this story and I couldn’t help but root for him. The ending was a little unexpected but made perfectly logical sense given the controlling government. If you haven’t read any of this author’s works, or perhaps you have just touched on his stuff, this would be a good introduction piece.
What I Liked: Mikael and his bad day; the ruse being played on the citizens; the logical ending to the tale.
What I Disliked: Shares a plot device with the author’s other work Reich, making this very predictable; could have used more on the setting.