Excerpt: Eye of the Beholder by Trudi Canavan

Trudi Canavan is an Aussie legend, and I’m very proud to be able to publish Eye of the Beholder in Grimdark Magazine Issue #19.  Trudi is such a big name in the fantasy genre, especially here in Australia, so go on, get stuck in and have a taste of her gripping short story.

Eye of the Beholder

Trudi Canavan

“You say you want my life story, young man. I know what you really want, and I’m not going to give it to you. We’re going to start at the second chapter. It’s a far more interesting chapter, in my opinion, to the one before.

All you need to know is I’d lost a great deal. Reputation. Station. Trust. My family had disowned me, as had most of my friends. But not all of my friends. Not the knowledge and skill I’d gained, either. What I lost led to an unexpected gain: I was free to turn what had been an interest and pastime into a source of income, with a little help from the friends I had kept.

No, not magic. Not yet.

For a time, I was the most popular miniature portraitist at court. Yes. Me. A woman artist, in those times. It was the size I worked at that made it possible. I made miniatures: small, insignificant portraits that could not compete with all those proud figures standing amid the splendour of their possessions, natural or otherwise, from the walls of the rich and important. My miniatures had more in common with the tiny pictures painted upon porcelain, more delicate and sentimental than grand and imposing. They were seen as decorations rather than art, therefore acceptable work for a woman—though I’d wager none of the portraitists could have done what I did, if they ever deigned to try.

If you needed a likeness to present when arranging a marriage, you came to me. If you wanted a keepsake to remind you of a loved one, or remind a loved one of you, you came to me. If you desired a portable image, not too expensive, to keep by your side, you came to me.

Of course, none of the people I had wronged in the past came to me. Some who knew of my reputation visited to gloat at my reduced circumstances. Some were drawn out of curiosity. Some expressed their support for my role in… that other business. Strange how the latter made me feel most like a failure.

I wasn’t the only one producing miniatures—or the first to do so—but I was the best. I had practiced the art for a long time before needing to make an income from it. I’d had good teachers, too. Women hired to encourage the improvement of young ladies with suitable leisure activities, who could be surprisingly exacting in their lessons for occupations that weren’t supposed to matter that much.

Miniatures had always fascinated me. I’d searched books and interrogated my teachers for information about them. They have a long history, filled with superstition and unlikely stories. Sorting the truth from the myth was an endlessly attractive puzzle for my young mind.

I did not attempt anything illegal, of course. Not before I was ordered to. I want to be perfectly clear about that. Write it down. Good.

Check out the rest of Eye of the Beholder

Read the rest of Eye of the Beholder by Trudi Canavan and much, much more in Grimdark Magazine Issue #19.


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Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins runs Grimdark Magazine and loves anything to do with telling darker stories. Doesn't matter the format, or when it was published or produced--just give him a grim story told in a dark world by a morally grey protagonist and this bloke's in his happy place. Add in a barrel aged stout to sip on after a cheeky body surf under the Australian sun, and that's his heaven.