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The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections

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A young food taster to the Traitor King must make a difficult choice in this story of pastries, magic, and revenge. The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections is a Tor.com Original from fantasy author Tina Connolly.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

30 pages, ebook

First published July 11, 2018

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About the author

Tina Connolly

64 books456 followers
Tina Connolly's books include the Ironskin trilogy (Tor), the Seriously Wicked series (Tor Teen), the collection On the Eyeball Floor (Fairwood Press), and the Choose Your Own Adventure Glitterpony Farm. She has been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Norton, and World Fantasy awards. She co-hosts the science fiction podcast Escape Pod, runs the intermittent flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake, and is at tinaconnolly.com.

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5 stars
338 (41%)
4 stars
355 (43%)
3 stars
99 (12%)
2 stars
22 (2%)
1 star
4 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 184 reviews
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
February 26, 2019
Nebula nominee for best novelette in 2018! 4.5 stars for this excellent Tor fantasy story, free online here at Tor.com. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Saffron is one of the official food tasters for Duke Michal, the regent for an infant prince. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Duke, who everyone calls the Evil King, plans to usurp the throne in the near future. But meanwhile he and his soldiers have terrorized the entire kingdom, murdering or imprisoning those who try to stand against them. They’ve also kidnapped Saffron’s husband Danny, a gifted pastry baker, because of his ability to magically infuse his confections with the ability to evoke memories. Now the royal pastry chef, Danny is confined to his kitchens, not permitted to see or even communicate with Saffron.

Saffron offered to take any job at the palace, just to be closer to Danny. The Duke has made her the Confection Taster, doubtless thinking that if Danny has any plan to try to poison the Duke, he’ll have to poison his wife as well. Now there’s an immense royal banquet, including several courses of Danny’s magical pastries that Saffron tastes before anyone else. Saffron begins to surmise, from the memories the different pastries bring to her mind, that Danny has some kind of plan, but what is it?

“The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” is well-crafted and wondrous. All of the pieces fit together so well, with just the right amount of foreshadowing. There are numerous flashbacks, when Saffron is recalling the memories that Danny’s pastries evoke in her, with these sections of the story titled after the charming names of the pastries, like “Rosemary Crostini of Delightfully Misspent Youth” and “Rose-Pepper Shortbread of Sweetness Lost.”

This story has deeper elements as well; the twin themes of the need to fight against tyrants, and the temptation to leave those battles to others when you and yours are safe and comfortable, are woven in without becoming overbearing. I do wonder just a little about the linchpin concept of the story: But that’s a minor quibble; overall I highly recommend this read.
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
June 24, 2020
She knows already that there is something special about this moment. It is the sort of memory you recall for years after. A moment when the world changed around you. A moment etched with both beauty and loss, a moment that you leave behind as you move away from it, a moment you can never reach again.

Except, with what Danny has now made, perhaps you can.

this one's really strong - all the 'imaginative food magic' of Like Water for Chocolate, all the 'poetic justice for tyrants' of ... so many things. a baker whose secret ingredient triggers fuguelike states in all who eat it, during which they are transported into one of their memories as real as waking life, is essentially imprisoned and forced to serve as the pastry chef at the pleasure of the cruel regent to the throne. his wife volunteers to become the regent's confection taster, to prevent any poisonings and whatnot, and although the couple are not allowed to see each other, they communicate through his creations and the specific memories they invoke in her. and food, especially magical food, can say a lot.

excellent free short and a good way to start your day. SHORT REVIEWS FOR SHORT SHORTS!!!

read it for yourself here:


come to my blog!
Profile Image for Trish.
2,020 reviews3,436 followers
September 19, 2018
Wow. Some short stories just connect with the reader instantly. Like this one. Food afficionados will get a special kick out of this but any lover of fantasy is going to enjoy this tremendously.

It is the story of a kingdom that has lost its king and has since been ruled by a scrupulous tyrant who has people disappear for saying the wrong things.
In this world live Saffron and Danny. Danny is a baker, Saffron his wife, and both have suffered by the hands of the Traitor King. Danny, however, has a unique gift: he can bake pastries that make you remember!
How can you use whatever skill you have for the good of an entire kingdom?

Apart from the delightful cuisine shown here, I very much enjoyed the artful writing style, vivacious characters, the concept of memories having such power over us and others as well as the spin on the age-old question of What would you do?.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,109 followers
September 19, 2018
This short fits the bill for both a sweet tale and also a sweet revenge.

What? A foodie Revenge?

With magic, beautiful taste, and a non-standard end?

Short and sweet, indeed. The pain is reserved for others.

Free on Tor right now! :)
Profile Image for Fran.
661 reviews635 followers
March 26, 2019
The Traitor King gets his just desserts! Sweet retribution. This novelette was a Nebula Awards Finalist in 2018!
Profile Image for Paul.
2,309 reviews20 followers
May 21, 2019
An impressive flight of imagination. I’ll definitely check out this writer’s other work.
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,671 reviews242 followers
May 12, 2019
“A young food taster to the Traitor King must make a difficult choice in this story of pastries, magic, and revenge.“

Imaginative confections. An usurper of the throne get his just dessert. Not a terribly surprising ending. Granted, the names of the various pastries were funny and their increasingly more ominous effects were nicely done.
Has the feel of a traditional fairytale. ★★★¾☆

Can bed read for free here: https://www.tor.com/2018/07/11/the-la...
Profile Image for Rachel (Kalanadi).
735 reviews1,434 followers
January 27, 2019
Food that triggers memories. And a happily married couple that works together even when separated! This had a great build up and a good use of flashbacks.
Profile Image for Gavin.
886 reviews400 followers
October 17, 2018
This was an OK short story with a fresh feeling premise. We followed the tale of a poison taster at a magic food filled banquet. It was weird but quite fun as we saw how the magic baker tried to get around the issue of his wife being the poison taster to a tyrant everyone wanted gone!

The story never got above average for me but was an OK read.

Rating: 2.5 stars.
Profile Image for Lena.
1,152 reviews255 followers
September 26, 2021
Death by chocolate! A despotic treasonous king rules the land, but one brave baker and his wife will take their chance for a better world.
Profile Image for Jen .
2,663 reviews27 followers
July 23, 2018
Loved it! If only it were that easy to over-throw a tyrant... short freebie. Highly recommend it. 5, yummy, stars!
August 27, 2020
A truly excellent short read.....

Tor.com short reads have become a nice little break for me, when I am in between longer novels. Which is all the time! But this short read completely grabbed my attention from the start, leaving me wishing this book would not end so soon!
This short story was based on the classic age old tales of love and loss, good and bad, right and wrong, etc. And yes, the ending is almost always predictable, to a point, in these types of stories. But it's this author's profound way of taking you through her unique version of an age old tale, that leaves you wishing this was not a short read, and that the ending was not so near!
It is truly an enjoyable, and excellent must read!
Profile Image for Phoenix2.
868 reviews101 followers
May 21, 2021
The last banquet of temporal confections was indeed a journey through the main hero's life through cakes. The author manages to wrap up not only a complete story, but a whole new universe in just a few pages. Though the writing style, with the back and forth, as well as the not clear explanation of the dessert magic, were two factors that I personally did not enjoy, but the story overall was interesting, the characters, well, the main character at least, a smooth narrator, quite enjoyable and likable, and the setting intriguing.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
9,820 reviews418 followers
March 19, 2019
Ooh, smart. I wouldn't want to read a whole novel by the author as I'm not into fantasy or political intrigue, but condensed into a short story it's bewitching....
Profile Image for Kaa.
566 reviews50 followers
March 19, 2019
This story hit me where it hurts today. Not sure yet if that means it was exactly the right day or completely the wrong day to read it, but I thought the story itself was wonderful.
Profile Image for yenna.
120 reviews25 followers
Shelved as 'finished-short-stories'
August 28, 2020
the description on here of this being about "pastries, magic, and revenge" is amusing because the pastries ARE the magic and revenge and truly, what a delightful concept !! love the way this story was structured with sections such as "Rosemary Crostini of Delightfully Misspent Youth" and "Fennel Flatbread of Sunlit Days Gone By", what a very lovely short read it made

and the concept of food and memory... maybe we don't even need rose-thyme...
Profile Image for Pradnya K..
279 reviews98 followers
September 22, 2018
Huge surprises often come in tiny packages. It's such a wonderful, brilliant story with a novel concept! If author wanted it could have been a novella and still leave a profound impact but the short story has also given it a justice. Since it's page turner and brief that you finish over your lunch break I'd recommend everyone to read it. Also it's free, right here :

The story is set in times of kingdoms and dukes when a tyrannical rulers is capturing and torturing the rebels before they could act. Saffron, the protagonists, could remain safe but with her love, Danny, being gifted baker with distinguished abilities comes as a threat to the Duke. Duke captures Danny, makes him head chef in confinement and Saffron, determined to save Danny offers herself at palace for role of food-tester. It suits Duke too as Danny cannot try anything dangerous before endangering his wife first.

I haven't heard of the magical food of such abilities before this. It sounds interesting.
I especially loved the names of the pastries like
"Lemon Tart of Profound Regret" or "Bitter chocolate of agony observed" Though they don't seem palatable they're certainly curious, in a good way when they come to you while reading. And make you expect something novel every time. All in all, it's an excellent confection, the story is.

Go indulge yourself in the world of pastries, then!
Profile Image for Julie.
951 reviews248 followers
July 18, 2019
Hugo-nominated novelette. The interesting concept of a baker who learns how to bake creations that, when consumed, transport you back to a specific kind of memory, a specific mood -- thus taking the deeply evocative sense memory of taste and just pushing it a step further, and further. But as a result of his skill, he winds up a captive royal baker at court, baking for a cruel duke (and regent)'s pleasure, while his wife is trapped as court taster lest he try to poison the regent. And though the married couple aren't allowed to see each other, they still communicate via the baker's creations, and they try to find a way out of their predicament.

It's strong throughout, but then ends a bit too cleanly and abruptly. But I like tales of hubris brought low, and stories of women in captivity plotting their way out; I just wish there had maybe been a little more to it, a bit more meat on those bones, but it's a short(ish) and sweet read anyhow. Really rich, evocative prose.

Read it for free here: https://www.tor.com/2018/07/11/the-la...
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews192 followers
April 20, 2019
Delicious food-based magic, poison tasting, deception, and revenge, all in one bite.

I don't want to give too much away, but it's the best kind of bittersweet, the one whose ending doesn't feel weaker than the rest of the story. And food descriptions have always been my weakness, of course I loved the story about resistance through magical pastries - but I especially loved how this story talked about the links between food and memory, and that's something I'd like to see in fiction more.
Profile Image for Divine.
340 reviews167 followers
May 17, 2020
"Cooking is about timing."
This short story is a delightful read with its delectable and evocative writing style. The Traitor King holds a special banquet in the palace where he showcases the Temporal Confections geniusly crafted by the pastry chef Danny. What sets his decadent pastries on the pedestal is that each evokes a specific kind of memory for the taster.

Saffron, the wife of Danny and the designated pastry taster savors these masterpieces from Rosemary Crostini of Delightfully Misspent Youth, Fennel Flatbread of Sunlit Days Gone By, Rose-Pepper Shortbread of Sweetness Lost, and many more before it reaches the King and his guests. This tale leads us to a series of memories carefully crafted to give us that ending. This was a light read and very satisfying. I highly recommend reading this delectable delight!
Profile Image for Laura.
2,770 reviews83 followers
July 12, 2018
Food magic is nothing new. But this presentation of it, in this short story, is clever, and scary, at the same time.

The set up, and I don't want to give too much away, because this is a story you can't know too much about before reading, is that Saffron is a taste tester for an evil king. She can't, and doesn't want to poison him, but she does want him to eat what her husband, the pastry chef has prepared, because he has baked in memories into his desserts.

And while you would think that it isn't important, this short story shows how memories can shape or break you.

You can read this, online, at Tor.com
Profile Image for Oleksandr Zholud.
1,121 reviews112 followers
March 2, 2019
This is a fantasy novelette that has been already nominated for Nebula Award and is eligible for Hugo Award.

Almost fairytale beginning. A villain, who usurped the throne, titled the Traitor King by people, likes to manipulate people. He has large dinners in his palace. The family divided – Saffron (wife) works as a food tester for the king, while her husband (Danny) works on confectionaries in the kitchen. Not just any confectionaries, but magic ones: they make you remember a memory linked to a specific emotion, like love or fear or compassion. The husband sends one way love messages this way to his wife.

While quite original and interesting, I wasn’t satisfied with the ending, thus 3 stars
Displaying 1 - 30 of 184 reviews

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