Three caravans have vanished traversing the Cowcheanne Way
the moonlight war
by s.k.s. perry
Three 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?
OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: The Moonlight War by S. K. S. Perry caught my eye with its blurb and intrigued me enough with its easy prose and characterization. The blurb describes a quest being undertaken by a group of slightly infamous individuals and the people of two separate nations. The blurb doesn’t give us more details other than it is a sword and sorcery novel and might feature quintessential fantasy tropes. Basically it’s a heroic quest fantasy in the vein of David Gemmell but less refined than what the big man would have written. The story begins with several different POV characters being introduced. First we get to met Tasha O’Brienne, an Omai master swordsman and an outcast who has earned the sobriquet of Hasa-Ni-Do due to an event in his past. There’s Roclyn MacNaramara who moonlights as a highway robber self-titled “The Dark Gent” as the love of his life ruined his life and name. Princess Setanna, niece to the Kel-tii king, and who thirsts for affection & attention from her uncle but is deprived of it for reasons she has no clue about.
There’s Conner of Lanford, an old master-at-arms just two months away from retirement and who’s forced to undergo a journey at his lord’s bequest, shepherding his lord’s son Brenn Shaunsie along the way. Lady Malakilord MyobiKieran Brannigan, Mikhy.
The story focusses on a nameless land which has two people come together, the Kel-tii and the Ashai who are facsimiles for the Irish & Japanese people. They have been previously been at war but now have an uneasy truce and have come together for the prosperity of both. The story begins when an expedition is planned for Kildonan with travel along the Cowcheanne Way to discover what happened to the three missing caravans and the fighting platoon who have disappeared around there. They will however to overcome mutual distrust and find out what exactly happened to the previous expeditions while also trying to stay alive.
The story while seemingly a sword and sorcery quest novel is a bit more than that. Think of it as a cross between Raymond Fiest and David Gemmell, epic fantasy plot meets heroic fantasy characters. The author makes each character distinct with separate background stories before eventually kickstarting the main plot. Also the plot takes a while to get going for the aforementioned reason of the author setting up each character.
However from then the story pretty much goes into an action overdrive as our protagonists meet with various challenges during the journey. Some are created by the mutual distrust between both cultures, others are created by whatever or whoever has been haunting the Cowcheanne Way.
The main plus point of this book is the characterization, the author really goes out of his way to give us a big character cast and makes them three-dimensional folks. The plot line also hints at quite a few epic things that might have occurred in the past and might lead to bigger things in the future. While some might accuse the author of utilizing this book as set-up for the sequels and eventual saga.
They would be partially correct in that thought, but it’s not entirely so. I thought the author tried his best to find a suitable balance between the action and story setup. Lastly the action and plot pace are directly proportional to each other, as soon as the action begins, the pace picks up and then the readers will be racing to its explosive climax. The action sequences quite reminded me of the claustrophobic scenes in Aliens if they were occurring above the ground.
Lastly a major drawback of the book is that author very conveniently tries to make different characters couple up romantically, while one or two would be understandable, but when it occurred more than three times, it just felt incredulous. However for some readers, it might be easy to go with the flow. For me it all seemed rather too convenient happenings than occurring organically.
Another drawback was that there’s not much of world-building showcased and for those readers wondering about the Kel-tii & Ashai people/cultures, will have to wait for the sequels to learn more about the dual cultures as well as the reason of their animosity. The world-building definitely takes a backseat to the characterization and action and that detracts quite a bit from the story.
Think of this book as the Drenai series meets Predator if written by Raymond Fiest. For me I very much enjoyed the read in spite of the drawbacks that were present. I will certainly look forward to the sequel whenever it gets published to find out what happens next to the surviving character cast.
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Born and raised in Mumbai, India. Mihir Wanchoo is a physician and a Masters graduate. He is an avid book collector and longtime reader of fantasy, thrillers and Indian mythology with additional interests in historical fiction and urban fantasy. Favorite writers include Jeffrey Deaver, John Connolly, David Gemmell, James Clemens/Rollins, Craig Schaefer, Rachel Aaron, Rob J. Hayes, Richard Nell, Ilona Andrews and many others. Mihir is also a diehard fan of the Indian Cricket team and Chelsea Football Club. Mihir currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with his family, and is ever looking forward to discovering new authors and old books. Mihir is the newest member of the FBC team and helps out with Reviews, Interviews and managing FBC’s Facebook page as well as the Twitter page. Mihir can be contacted directly at Goodreads HERE.