"The Worshipful Society of Glovers" by Mary Robinette Kowal
This story comes from Uncanny magazine, issue seventeen, for July/August 2017. Written
by Mary Robinette Kowal.
What a wonderfully beautiful world that was created with this story. There was just enough detail in the story to help create a vivid fantasy world in my head. The characters were great and from the beginning I was already invested in their life and destiny.
The story started off with a boy, Vaghn, tailoring a pair of gloves. He had to be careful about cutting the thread because he didn't know if his saliva would cause any harm when the guild brownie cast his magical spell over the gloves. He was so poor though, he had to "borrow" a pair of shears from his master without telling him they were leaving the glove . Satisfied with the gloves he headed off to work.
Vaughn was a journeyman under Master Martin at the glove making shop. He was studying under contract until he could take the test to become a Master himself and join the guild. He tried to talk Master Martin into letting him out of his journeyman contract so he could take the masters test and open a shop of his own. Master Martin would not let him out of his contract because it was cheaper to keep someone under a full-term contract that knew what they were doing than to hire someone else and have to train them up to full potential.
The gloves that are produced at the shop are ordinary gloves. Each master has their own signature in stitching and glove making. The gloves became magical after being imbued with magical powers of a brownie from the land of Faerie. They imbued the gloves with spells that grant the wearer of the gloves special powers or abilities. The brownies are associated with the glove maker's guild and work in tandem with a master guildsman. The brownie that worked with Master Martin is named .
Some of the gloves gave powers that provided extraordinary strength. Another pair might have helped the wearer find love or helped give the illusion that they are more beautiful. Anything was possible with the gloves.
One day on his way home from work something terrible happened to Vaghn. The little bit that he had was stolen. Vaghn was heart-broken. He didn't know what to do. He might lose his job which would then leave him with less than he barely had now.
Even though he had very little the little bit that he did have helped him and his sister. His sister had problems and he had to take care of her. Sometimes this became an issue, but he didn't know what else to do. He couldn't afford to do anything else. That is part of the reason he was so eager to become a master glove maker. He needed money and he didn't have any.
The rest of the story was with how Vaghn dealt with his situation and overcame a great obstacle in his path. There was something he wanted more than anything in the world, but he wasn't sure how to get it. He thought over plans and different ways to try and accomplish his goal, but could never figure out how to approach the problem. Then one day he came up with an idea to solve his problem.
Was it the solution he was looking for? As with anything, for every action there is a reaction.
The world was very well done. The story had a unique approach as well. A society that cherished gloves for style and magical abilities. The prize possession of the elite their gloves. To show status was to have gloves. Everything was about gloves.
On the surface a story about a society and gloves doesn't sound appealing, but trust me this is a very appealing story. If you enjoy fantasy you'll like this story. If you like to get into the details of fantasy, the society, the traditions, the way of life for the characters of a story, you'll love this.
The author took a slice of a fantasy world and dissected the world piece by piece. She did this through the eyes of a boy named Vaghn. Through his eyes we meet the world, see the of society, meet magical creatures and watch magic happen. The magic happens on multiple levels, not just in the story, but in our minds as we delve into the world.
Overall this was a great story. Fantasy short fiction at its best. The author is great at her language for the story. She painted a vivid world to live in, although for a short while, and I could sense all the things she described. I would love to have had more of this story. Perhaps a novella that went into more of the society a little bit more. This would even make a great novel. Something I would definitely buy and look forward to if it ever happened.
Any fantasy reader shouldn't be disappointed with this story. Well done.