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.

 

Friday Firsts : The Moonlight War by SKS Perry

FridayFirsts
Friday Firsts
 is a new meme that runs every Friday over on Tenacious Reader. The idea is to feature the first few sentences/paragraph of your current book and try and outline your first impressions as a result. This is a quick and easy way to share a snippet of information about your current read and to perhaps tempt others.  Stop on by and link up with Tenacious Reader.    This Friday I’m reading : The Moonlight War by SKS Perry (one of my SPFBO books).

moonlight warTasha eyed the stone causeway that connected the mainland to the city of Vietor.  Night was fast approaching.  The street lamps were lit and the watch would soon shut the city gates for the evening.  He bent forward and vigorously brushed the sand from his long, matted hair, then wiped the grit from his eyes with the tattered sleeve of his robe.  A month in the wastelands had left him with sand in places it had no right to be.  With luck he had enough money for a room and a bath, and maybe a new pair of boots, but first he had to make the city.  Maybe five minutes to cross the bridge, another five to the city gates; he could just make it if he hurried.

He was less than halfway across when he saw the soldiers make their way onto the causeway.  A mounted warrior, a Daesho in red lacquered armour, led a line of spearmen spread out across the width of the crossing, arms at the ready as they advanced.  A palanquin and its bearers trailed behind, a minor lord, if the only twenty or so retainers were any indication.

Tasha knew he should retreat.  Just turn around and clear the bridge until after the procession had passed.  The arrogant bastards meant to clear the way, allowing no one to pass until they’d made the far side.

What was one more night spent out of doors?  He closed his eyes and shuddered at the thought of the thin sleeping roll slung at his hip.  There was still one last bit of dried horsemeat left in his food pouch.  He could make do.

My First Impressions

But, does he want to ‘make do’?  That is the question.  I thought this was a good opening and I was keen to find out more about Tasha and what action he would take.  What do you think – did he turn back? Or not??

What you reading this Friday??  What are your first impressions??

*The above excerpt was taken from an advanced reader copy and it is possible that the final version may have further changes.

My 8th book: Final Stage: #SPFBO 16

FullSizeRender-10November 1st saw the start of the second stage of the SPFBO – the Self Published Fantasy Blog off organised by Mark Lawrence.  All the details can be found here.

Today I’m highlighting the seventh book that I will be reading for the SPFBO.  All the books have been drawn randomly.  My books so far:

  1. Shadow Soul by Caitlyn Davis, review here.
  2. Paternus by Dyrk Ashton (review here).
  3. The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French.
  4. Larcourt K A Krantz ( Fire Born, Blood Blessed #1) My review is here.
  5. Ráth Bládhma (Fionn mac Cumhaill #1) by Brian O’Sullivan, review here.
  6. The Music Box Girl by K.A. Stewart.  Review here.
  7. The Path of Flames by Phil Tucker.  Review to follow

My next book (only two remaining now):

The Moonlight War by SKS Perry:

moonlight warThree caravans have vanished traversing the Cowcheanne Way. The legendary Tahsis platoon, warriors thought by most to be invincible, are dispatched to investigate and are never heard from again. Rumours of native uprisings and bandit armies grow wilder and more widespread every day, while the more devout whisper about the return of the Horde, a mythic foe from ages past.

The truce between the warring Kael-tii and Ashai nations is put to the test when a new caravan is outfitted and they are forced to travel The Way together. As an ancient evil is unleashed upon them, a group of heroes, friend and foe alike, must band together for survival.

When the true nature of their mission slowly comes to light, the growing distrust between the Kael-tii and Ashai camps threatens to tear the caravan apart. Can they set aside their differences in time to combat the menace that imperils them all, or are they doomed to join the ranks of lost souls claimed by the cursed Cowcheanne Way?