The Moonlight War by SKS Perry

moonlight warThe Moonlight War was one of the SPFBO finalist books and I must admit that I found it a very enjoyable read, there were a couple of areas where I thought there was room for improvement but overall I had no problem at all in making steady headway through the story and was keen to see how things panned out.

As the story begins we learn of problems being experienced on the Cowcheanne Way where entire caravans and platoons of soldiers have gone missing.  Nobody seems to know what to believe amongst the rumours of bandits and uprisings but one theory that seems to grow in strength is the rise of the Horde and the return of the Ukhami as a result.  Many years ago the Horde were the enemy of the nation.  In a desperate bid to survive them magic was used to create fearsome and beast like warriors known as the Ukhami.   Unfortunately that magic has long since been lost to the ages and if the Ukhami have indeed returned then controlling them is going to be critical to survival.

Now we have a caravan of merchants needing to travel, they seek to join Lord Myobi who is also travelling with his entourage and a team of elite soldiers.  Added to this, following a petition to the King, is an escort including the King’s niece, Princess Setanna.  The main plot is fairly simple in that it becomes a quest for survival.  There are of course underlying motives for some of the leading characters and these will become clear along the way and the outcome is a fairly gripping journey with a number of desperate battles.

What I particularly enjoyed about The Moonlight War was the characters.  I thought the author did a great job with them – and there are actually quite a few to focus on – but they’re all very distinct with their own back stories and personalities.  The place portrayed, well, I wouldn’t say that I found anything particularly distinctive about it.  It seems to be the home to two very distinct people in the Kel-tii and the Ashai who are currently enjoying a tentative peace of sorts, although this doesn’t actually extend to the two really liking each other, in fact ignorance of each other’s way and prejudice are fairly rife between the two groups.

In terms of the main characters I’ll give a brief overview of the main ones.

We firstly make the introduction of Tasha O’Brienne.  Tasha is a man of mystery, something of a rogue character or outcast known as Hasa-Ni-Do – which, roughly means he stands alone (or something along those lines – apologies I can’t remember the exact meaning).  One thing that is abundantly clear about Tasha from fairly early on is that people fear him.  He’s an outstanding swordsman and fighter but is also greatly feared as people believe he has made a pact with demons.  Tasha becomes a key part of the caravan and indeed is accompanied by a young man of the Ashai people who owes Tasha a debt of honour.

Roclyn MacNaramara, Roc, was formerly a member of the nobility.  Fallen from grace he now uses his ability and charm to moonlight as a highway robber where his sophistication has earned him the nickname the Dark Gent.  He is constantly accompanied by two soldiers who have fought with him on many campaigns and the three of them provide the type of fun and banter that helps to inject humour into the story.

Lady Malaki is a seer and her skills are prized on such a journey.  She’s only a young woman and I would say out of all the characters is the one who I don’t really feel I know too much about at this stage but hopefully her part is set to become more important as her magical abilities increase.

Kieran is something of a surprise.  A young farm boy who joins the caravan as something of a rookie but takes everyone by storm with his sword skills.

Princess Setanna is in control of the whole motley crew and she runs a fairly tight ship, she certainly isn’t about to take any sexist nonsense about her leadership abilities.

To be honest, there are plenty more characters that I enjoyed spending time with but I won’t go into them all here.

As I said the characterisation is what made this such an enjoyable read for me.  The plot is a little bit thin on the ground and the set up takes a while, probably reaching about the first 50% of the book before any action really starts to kick in.  I didn’t mind the slow build, the author makes good use of the time to flesh out the characters and this attention to detail really helps you to form attachments which in turn increases the tension when it becomes clear that the caravan is being stalked.

I think my main niggle with the book was that certain elements were too obviously set up.  The most obvious being the relationships – don’t get me wrong because I quite enjoyed these in a way but they did feel a bit contrived, perhaps they needed a bit more time to develop – as it is these couples felt a little bit, not exactly unnatural – because the couples did go together well, just more that they felt like they were being used to move the plot along.

As it is this is a very enjoyable read and sets up the story perfectly for the next instalment which I would definitely pick up.

 

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8 Responses to “The Moonlight War by SKS Perry”

  1. sjhigbee

    This one sounds an really entertaining read – the worldbuilding sounds great. Thank you for sharing Lynn. I take you now have to choose just one of these?

    • @lynnsbooks

      Oh, we’ve already finished – I was two reviews behind though and I always intended to read all the finalists. The Grey Bastards won the competition and I’m really pleased for the author because he’s been offered a publishing contract now. Can’t wait for his second book.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Danya @ Fine Print

    Princess Setanna sounds awesome – I love a haughty yet capable princess who won’t take any BS from sexist nobs. 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      She was a good character for sure – definitely not taking any sexist bs.
      Lynn 😀

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    This one intrigued me when you first showcased it as you were going through the eligible titles for you SPFBO, and even though there seem to be some… hiccups in story development and characterization, it sounds like an intriguing read. And the cover alone would drive me to try it out! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was a very easy and entertaining read. There were a few issues but nothing that caused me any real problems and I was always keen to pick it back up.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Sounds like a fun one! Tiara got this one to review, I think – at some point I’d like to check out those I did not get to read 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I guess it’s difficult to go back to them after the fact – this one was good. It has a few niggly issues but overall I think it’s a very enjoyable read.
      Lynn 😀

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