Serpentsong by Richard Lee Byers is again! One of those stories that while being good, is not what I was expecting.  I was thinking this to be something about Yuan-ti and was SUPER excited about it because we don’t see a lot of stuff with Yuan-ti in it, but sadly t’was not to be.

Instead we are introduced to a band of adventurers, one of whom is a Thayan bard named Bareris, held captive by lizardfolk and being led by their shaman-bard to a prison island surrounded by hundred of poisonous snakes. Only the lizard shaman’s song can calm the snakes enough to allow passage back and forth from the island to the mainland, so once the shaman leaves the group there, they’re trapped.

For a little while at least. It’s not long before the lizardfolk are back and the shaman sings a song to calm the serpents and call forth one of the adventurers to be sacrificed. This happens twice, each time with Bareris trying and failing to break the shaman’s magic.

It’s only when the surviving members of his company try to kill him for his failure, and he lights on the idea of working with the shaman’s magic to turn it against him. His fellows allow him to live for one more night, on the condition that if he fails again his life is forfeit.

Which of course doesn’t happen, and Bareris is able to subvert and take over the shaman’s song, allowing the rest of the company to kill the lizardfolk and escape.

So all in all a happy ending to a otherwise gruesome and disturbing tale. The next one we’re looking at seems like it’s going to be just as interesting.  Pigs Explode by Rosemary Jones.

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