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| Author: Michael A. Stackpole
| Genre: Epic Fantasy
| Content: Military, Dragons, Adult
| ISBN-10: 1907519076
| ISBN-13: 978-0553578072
| Publisher: Spectra (February 29, 2000)
| Mass Market Paperback: 402
| Source: Personal copy
| Rating: 5 Stars
| Read an Excerpt
Tarrant Hawkins has come of age, a day he has been looking forward to for years. Finally, he has his moonmask, the first step to being recognized as an adult, but before receiving their final masks, he and his friends must spend a year proving themselves. Shrouded in mystery, the rituals, tests, and trials of the moon year are never discussed but leave no young boy or girl unchanged.
Epic Fantasy Book Review by Mulluane
Sooner then they think their first test starts, the four friends are bundled into a darkened carriage and driven out into the countryside. There they are left, with little more then their wits, to find their way home. The test however turns out to be much greater then anyone had believed possible. Their hidden escort is killed by foul creatures, creatures that had no business being in that area. Soon the four are in a fight for their lives with only each other to depend on.
This sets the tone for the rest of the story. The evil Sorceress Chytrine has sent out scouts as a vanguard for an invasion force and our four heroes had the misfortune (or fortune) to run into them. The encounter not only allows the boys to bond and prove their mettle, it serves as a warning for what is to come.
Now I have to admit, this book blew me away. I can read military fantasy, I will not swear that it is my favorite but much to my surprise, this was exceptional military fantasy. Michael Stackpole went into vivid detail. The layout of the fortresses, the style of the weapons, the military strategy being used, and in a way that made it interesting, even for me. For lovers of all things military, you will love every gory detail of this story, and yes, the gore is vivid too. If you are on the fence about reading fantasy about limbs flying all over, heads rolling around, entrails spilling, I still say give it a try. I will forever understand battle scenes better for having read this book. If you absolutely hate this type of fantasy, well then, this is not a book you want to read because it is almost all battles of one sort or another.
Military aspect aside, this is a prequel, there are many details you will need to know in order to fully enjoy the following trilogy. This is in some ways, a unique world. In other ways, it is fairly clique. You have a band of young heroes, a truly evil antagonist bent on conquest, plenty of mindless, nameless creatures under her power who must be destroyed, a magical sword, and a wide variety of "good" guys who are all of different races and cultures. There are a couple of plot twists that are vital for the coming series and the world building is extensive. What you will not find is a great deal of characterization. Tarrant Hawkins is the sole narrator through out and you get only his view on the other personalities. This is more about the story, the battles that provide the action and the plot twists that set the scene for things to come.
Gore, gore and more gore. This is a very violent book. The few love scenes that take place are laughable in their lack of detail. Especially when compared to the detail given to the hacking and slashing that goes on. I am going to mark these as adult reads but honestly, I am sure there are teens out here that will love all the blood and guts. You will as usual have to decide for yourself. Me, I am off to start the Dragoncrown War Cycle and see if Stackpole continues to hold my interest.
Other books in the series
Librarything Rating 3.72/5
Amazon Rating 4.2 out of 5 stars
(66 Customer Reviews)
What Should I Read Next?
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Book Review of The Dark Glory War (Dragoncrown War Cycle Prequel) by Michael Stackpole - Reviewed by Mulluane - on November 03, 2008 - Rating: