The Second Kalandar’s Tale is a novelet translated from the original Arabic by Sir Richard Burton and retold by Francis Marion Soty. This story was published in the March/April edition of Fantasy & ScienceFiction.
The story starts within the frame of the Arabian Nights, and then digresses to the prince’s tale of his own foolishness and cowardice. I have read some of the original translation, but it’s been a long time and I don’t have the complete works, so I cannot compare Soty’s rendition to the Burton translation.
One thing I found compelling is that this story retains the gruesome details inherent in many older fables that tend to be lost in contemporary retellings. While I’m not particularly fond of gruesomeness for its own sake, these elements often show the negative consequences for bad decisions. Excluding these elements in contemporary retellings tends to promote our tendency to dismiss our culpability for the consequences of our choices. Perhaps it wasn’t a conscious decision, but I do applaud Soty for retaining these details.
The writing style is active, almost simple, which fits the story very well, with key details made vivid as the events and their consequences unfold.