THE LAST BANQUET OF TEMPORAL CONFECTIONS, by Tina Connolly
(click on the LINK to read the story online)
One of the more intriguing fantasy stories I remember reading, and one that will stay with me for a long time. While the core elements of the background are drawn from a more classic fantasy stile – a realm in turmoil at the death of its king; the proverbial villain who takes power through deadly force; the reign of terror that ensues – the narrative moves along a very unusual path.
Saffron is the wife of a village baker, a very talented young man whose breads and sweetmeats have gathered a faithful clientele who knows to always expect something surprising from brilliant Danny. In recent times Danny, who likes to experiment with his ingredients, has found a way to draw forth emotions from his special confectionery, and word of his gift has reached the Traitor King’s ear, with the awful consequence that Danny has been forcibly recruited as head pastry chief at the castle, and Saffron, not wanting to be separated from him, offered her services as confection taster – another word for poison detector.
As the story opens, a special banquet is underway, a Temporal Confections dinner in which the usurper and his court will taste Danny’s special sweets that will elicit buried memories in the guests. The tension in the air is quite palpable, not only because of the ruler’s proverbial cruelty and his mercurial temper, but because it becomes soon clear that something is going to happen, something that literally vibrates under the faked air of conviviality in the banquet hall…
I will leave you to discover this remarkable tale for yourselves, to do otherwise would spoil the effect, but I want to share some of the names of Danny’s unusual pastries in the hopes of piquing your curiosity: Fennel Flatbread of Sunlit Days Gone By, or Rose-Pepper Shortbread of Sweetness Lost, or again Lemon Tart of Profound Regret.
And now I feel a strong need to find something sweet to eat… 😉