It’s quite cathartic to read a short story so heavily character driven on a very specific trauma, and which does so with grace and poise. The Apple-Tree Throne by delivers on a familiar theme with a twist: a soldier who cannot reintegrate, who struggles throughout the book; an aristocratic family replacing a son; and a ghost who is up to no good.
The story is in a world not unlike our own, but different on some fundamental levels. The backdrop is set at the turn of what is probably the 19th or 20th century, and The Great Republic of Britannia has involved itself in a World War with the Federation and other world powers being involved in some vague way. The war was only stopped after the Massacre of Burantai Pass and the radio vizcast (a kind of black-and-white television) following the capture of its Major-General Wickersley who led the assault.
Lt. Benjamin Braddock is a survivor of the Burantai Pass Massacre and returns to his country a shattered man: broken by the guilt of survival; enraged at the senselessness of the war; and chased by ghosts both figurative and literal. Yet, despite coming back from the war as a kind-of-hero, Braddock finds himself unable to reintegrate into society. His friends all have homes and families and shrug the war off like a coat, while the Wickersley Family only want Braddock around to be seen, rather than heard. To make matters worse for Braddock, the ghost of Wickersley— his commander— haunts him, and grows ever more restless and demanding with every interaction.Continue reading