the tale in question was published in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s annual Sword & Sorceress anthology. Like nearly all stories in that series, they had a female protagonist.
The protagonist of the story was a remarkably ugly but very strong woman. Early in the story she is ambushed and raped, conceiving a child whom she loves despite its origin. The woman is soon heartbroken when her daughter dies of a fever in agony. She seeks out the anthropomorphic incarnation of Death, who is cruel, and challenges him to a duel for the life of her daughter. She defeats Death but learns she cannot resurrect her daughter. Even so the story has a somewhat happy ending, as the protagonist replaces the current Death and, in her new office, is merciful to those she must usher out of life; with her acting as the Grim Reaper, no one perishes in agony any longer.
The story MAY have been set in Robert Asprin’s Thieves’ World. I’m not sure about that, but I seem to remember that the only explicit clue that the protagonist was raped was that, during the scene in question, her rapist says to his fellows “I told you I could fuck the ugliest woman in Old Gandrin!”
What year did you read the story? That would help narrow down which volume it’s in. I have the entire series, and if you’ll narrow down what you know more I can check through the books. Do you have a picture in your head of the cover art? Do you remember any other stories in the same volume?
Thanks, but it’s not as impressive as it seems - my memory for the written word is freaky like that, but it’s not something I control. In addition, I only have a few boards online that I frequent, and they’re all really different from each other, so it’s pretty easy to suss out where I would have read something.
No idea whatsoever? The first book in the series came out in 1984 and the last one came out in 2012. So you saying, “There’s this story I read once. It could have been last year. It could have been 29 years ago. I can’t remember.”
It happens all the time to me. I read at least a book a day, and while all of them are not adult books, they do have plots and individual bits that stick in my mind (or not) as the case may be.
I have often found myself thinking about a setting or a plot, and I KNOW I must have read it somewhere, but damned if I can remember anything else about it - if I could remember more about it, I’d likely actually remember it, or at least remember enough about it that I can find it on my own. If I’m just clutching a barely-there thread of story or setting, it’s often all I can do to make sure I’m not overly embellishing or conflating the memory! (And I often fail at that attempt.)