"Burden of a Soldier" by J.B. Rice

Discuss the May 2015 book of the month, Holding Fire.
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Scott
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"Burden of a Soldier" by J.B. Rice

Post by Scott »

Please use this topic to discuss the eighth story in Holding Fire, "Burden of a Soldier" by J.B. Rice.

What do you think of this story? What do you like most about it?

I really loved the placement of this story in the book. The story offered a cool change of scenery. I think this story shares a quality with the earlier story "Vindictive" by Isobel Sheene in that in this story again the person seeking vengeance is fighting for someone else. Even more than that, this guy is fighting just for someone from his village--a mere friend. Thaddus reaction might speak more to his own personal demons than the closeness of his relationship to the victim or to the cruelty of the prince. That creates the great beauty of the story as leading ultimately to redemption. With that said, the one disappointment I had was in the abruptness of the ending and the road to redemption. The most memorable moment in the story to me is when Thaddus realizes that he has not even spoken to his family since the start of his quest for vengeance, which was beautifully juxtaposed to the wise man's recounting of murdering his own father which the reader is left to take as the beautiful metaphor I believe it is. To spell it out, by not talking to his own family, it is like they have become 'dead to him'--a price paid just for the petty goal of vengeance.

What do you think?
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Post by sahmoun2778 »

I really didn't enjoy this one. I found Thaddeaus difficult to relate to, somehow I just couldn't get into his head. I also found the ending rather abrupt and unsatisfying.
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Post by bookowlie »

I enjoyed this story and found it unique. Although he wasn't the main character, I thought Romulus was very interesting. However, as others have mentioned, I also found the ending abrupt.
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Post by khudecek »

I liked this story. There were a few places where the editing could have been better and a wrong word was used but it didn't detract from the story or the reading experience.

As I read the story, I wondered if Romulus was somehow of the Romulus and Remus fame. Romulus seemed like a pretty powerful guy and, like Bookowlie, I found him to be pretty interesting. Frankly, I was more interested in him than I was Thaddeus. Was this Romulus the founder of Rome? :eusa-think:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
.

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Post by Michelle-lit »

The story caught my attention through the character Romulus. He seemed so mysterious, and I was very interested in seeing what drove this character and what his story was. I felt the abrupt ending didn't allow us to find out more about Romulus. And, as everyone else has said, it resolved too quickly.

I did find the change in setting refreshing compared to the other stories, and although there were some minor grammatical errors, the story read smoothly.
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Post by zeldas_lullaby »

I loved this story. I loved the ending too. I felt, the speed at which it ended punched me in the stomach, but in a really good way. I thought it was perfect, as for a story (editing issues aside). The ending really got to me. I'm really feeling it. I thought that thing with Ozias was beautiful.

-- 15 May 2015, 00:13 --

Congrats to the author. Very talented.

-- 15 May 2015, 01:37 --

I think that Romulus and Ozias conspired. Both were monitoring him, and after Ozias had a talk with him, Romulus set the trap in the Prince's room. Such that when Thaddeus found it already there, in place, he realized that he felt protective of the Prince after all, which is what Romulus and Ozias wanted to have happen.

-- 15 May 2015, 01:38 --

It gave him a chance to save the prince instead of kill him. It offered him redemption for the hate that he was starting to not identify with anymore.

-- 15 May 2015, 01:40 --

When he was starting to see that he had friends and mentors at the castle, and ideal employment, if he were to embrace it. It's like, his hatred was rechannelled into what he wanted to do as a child--be a soldier--and he was forced to embrace his childish ideals of what it meant to be a soldier.

-- 15 May 2015, 01:42 --

And the way Ozias approached him with discussion instead of kicking him from the palace: Ozias knew that Thaddeus had a gentle heart. I've had moments of that, like, "This isn't my burden. I release it." I think that's what happened in the ending, why it may have seemed so quick.

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Post by avid reader28 »

Well, honestly I didn't enjoy this one, it's my least favorite story in the collection.

But I do appreciate the metaphor of him getting revenge of a stranger from his village, they weren't even a good friends, but he was fighting for his own sake, it was his battle a against his demons.

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Post by calfurshoney »

Honestly, not was I was expecting. Not my favorite setting. But still a good read on revenge and how it could turn worse but how it did turn out good!

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Post by zeldas_lullaby »

This one, with a few others, was at the top of my list!!

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Post by bookowlie »

zeldas_lullaby wrote:I loved this story. I loved the ending too. I felt, the speed at which it ended punched me in the stomach, but in a really good way. I thought it was perfect, as for a story (editing issues aside). The ending really got to me. I'm really feeling it. I thought that thing with Ozias was beautiful.

-- 15 May 2015, 00:13 --

Congrats to the author. Very talented.

-- 15 May 2015, 01:37 --

I think that Romulus and Ozias conspired. Both were monitoring him, and after Ozias had a talk with him, Romulus set the trap in the Prince's room. Such that when Thaddeus found it already there, in place, he realized that he felt protective of the Prince after all, which is what Romulus and Ozias wanted to have happen.

-- 15 May 2015, 01:38 --

It gave him a chance to save the prince instead of kill him. It offered him redemption for the hate that he was starting to not identify with anymore.

-- 15 May 2015, 01:40 --

When he was starting to see that he had friends and mentors at the castle, and ideal employment, if he were to embrace it. It's like, his hatred was rechannelled into what he wanted to do as a child--be a soldier--and he was forced to embrace his childish ideals of what it meant to be a soldier.

-- 15 May 2015, 01:42 --

And the way Ozias approached him with discussion instead of kicking him from the palace: Ozias knew that Thaddeus had a gentle heart. I've had moments of that, like, "This isn't my burden. I release it." I think that's what happened in the ending, why it may have seemed so quick.
Good points! I agree that his employment gave him a constructive, positive outlet. I liked how the author showed how he changed subtly throughout the story. This was also one of my favorite stories in the collection.
"The best way out is always through" - Robert Frost

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Post by zeldas_lullaby »

Thanks!! :-)

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Post by kstockard »

I usually don't like short stories about revenge because there is simply is not enough time to get a clear backstory developed. Most of the time short stories like this end up with a dissatisfying ending or now backstory. In the case of "Burden of a Soldier" by J.B. Rice, I did not like how the end was so abrupt giving the reader whiplash. I honestly liked everything up until the end. If the author was writing something longer than a short story this would have been great.

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Post by zanderlyrose »

The ending surprised me. I was very happy at the decision he made. If only we could all learn the way it felt he did.
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Post by castor »

Interesting story. I enjoyed it. The ending was unexpected. I also found Rumulus more interesting as a character. He seems to be powerful and canny.
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Post by Levi »

I enjoyed this story, and as a short story, the ending was abrupt but tied the story together perfectly. The story was not perfect, and the wording at the end could have been better but the author did a great job with the subject matter and the metaphor was very well done!!

-- 03 Aug 2015, 17:41 --

For an author's first work, I applaud her. She will only get better!
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