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The Grief of the Bond-Maid

Janine Ashbless

Out of Print

Sjofn the witch is on a quest to free herself from the control of the Hanged Man. She knows she cannot prevail alone, and so allies herself with a pair of warriors who have secrets of their own. As they fight their way through the obstacles set before them, her respect for their abilities begins to grow into something more—something she can scarcely admit to herself, let alone to them.

Sjofn pulled her hood off over her head, baring her throat and the leather collar about her neck. "Please. I'm a slave of the wizard Vegtamr, and you have to help me. He hanged himself four days ago."

"Well, good riddance," said the dark man mildly.

She stared.

"I've not heard of the man, but wizards make bad neighbors," he added. "For anyone."

"You don't understand. He's a runecaster and a priest of Odin. He thrust a spear into his belly and hanged himself, as Odin did. A sacrifice to himself."

Both men looked disconcerted. "They're crazy, the Odin priests," the redhead muttered. "He sends them mad."

"No one has done this in years," she explained. "Few have succeeded since the Allfather did it, but Vegtamr will. All his life, he has been preparing for this. For nine days and nights, he will be dead, and then he will come back, and he will bring the power of the runes with him from out of the Ginnungagap. Not just little spells, like you carve into a shield or a knife-hilt, but all the power of the runes, at his command. He'll be able to do anything the gods can do. He could..." She looked around at the town about them, and made a gesture to indicate it being swept away.

4.5 - Rainbow Reviews
"Slightly unexpected, both in the jump from the contemporary stories that start the anthology, and then in the turn towards to the romantic that this quest takes, as the three of them celebrate their hard one-victory (sic), but none the less enjoyable for that surprise. (Note: The rating given applies to the anthology as a whole.)"

4 - Coffee Time Romance
"This story is erotic, but is not overrun by the erotic side. Delving into a different world only adds to the reading experience. (Note: The rating given applies to the anthology as a whole.)"

4 - Fire Pages
"The cover is blazing hot and the story is even hotter.... It is an understatement to say that this is a very seductive tale.... [The sex scenes] are tastefully written but still scorch the pages with heat. I would really love to see where Janine Ashbless would take this short if it were extended into a novella. I'm fascinated by her creativity and will definitely be checking out more of her work."

4 -
"[T]his story snagged my attention in spite of my initial prejudices. I liked the flavor of Norse mythology that runs through the story and was impressed by the way the author fit the story to tidily into the theme of its Tarot card. (Note: The rating given applies to the anthology as a whole.)"

3 - Sally at Bibrary Book Lust
"[A] Norse-flavoured high-fantasy tale (complete with a minor quest) that plays with the homoerotic hero-sidekick relationship, and then introduces a woman into the magical mix. I’d love to see more stories dealing with these characters, or perhaps even a novel. It really was that good. (Note: The rating given applies to the anthology as a whole.)"

0 - C-Spot Reviews
"I liked this quite a bit – how can you not love anything that incorporates Norse Mythology? Unfortunately, as this is a short story, what happens in each realm is glossed over and I would have loved more details to have been provided."


Cast the Cards


9,900 words
20 pages

Release Date

Book Type

Short Story





Cover Art

S.L. Armstrong


M/M/F, bisexual, fantasy