Sunday, February 28, 2016

Blasted Lands

James A. Moore
Angry Robot, 2014 (a review copy was gently provided to me by Angry Robot)
Size: Average (my paperback copy has 364 pages)
Theme: Adventure fantasy
Narrative: third-person
Main character: Captain Merros Dulver
Recommended minimum age: Young Adult
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: YES

This book continues the story started in “The Seven Forges” which takes place in the empire of Fellein. Picking up from the end of the previous novel, we find the empire in turmoil after the assassination of the Emperor. Merros Dulver has been appointed the commander of the Fellein army, a difficult task given that after many years without any significant external threats most of those enlisted – and particularly the officers – are complacent and ill trained. And as Fellein starts its preparation to the inevitable war with the Sa’ba Taalor, the most skilled and ferocious warriors Merros has ever encountered, seemingly new threats appear both from the Savage Lands and from the sea…

The novel works beautifully as a sequel. It continues to slowly unravel pieces of information about the Sa’ba Taalor, and they are shown to be even more complex than previously guessed. The story also unfolds on multiple fronts, which is something I greatly enjoy. The pace is nicely kept and the tone of the plot is both somber and enticing. The storyline continues to feature a lot of gore and some descriptions of sexual nature. One of the most positive aspects of the book is that it does not fall short at all compared to the first, while in fact, I might have enjoyed it even more. Overall I found this an excellent book and I am anticipating the next installment.

*** Spoiler Alert ***
(Warning: the following text contains information that may hamper/ruin how much you enjoy the book):

One of the biggest revelations is that when the Sa’ba Taalor meet each of their Gods, which is considered major achievements in their lives, they are “branded” by them with an added pseudo-mouth, which is the reason they wore veils when in the Fellein empire, as this can be quite disconcerting at first. The book ends with the two armies coming face to face as the Sa’ba Taalor assume they have spent the last thousand years preparing their revenge over the empire and have betrayed their recent trust when welcoming them into the palace.

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