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The Last Sacrifice by James A. Moore Review

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The Last Sacrifice by James A. Moore Review
The Last Sacrifice by
Series: The Tides of War #1
Date Published:
Publisher: Angry Robot
Language: English
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
ISBN: 9780857665447
Format: paperback (I got an eARC via Netgalley)
Pages: 329

Since time began, the Grakhul – immortal servants of the gods – have taken human sacrifices to keep the world in balance and the gods appeased. When they choose the family of warrior Brogan McTyre, everything changes.

Brogan begins the toughest battle of his life to free his family from their terrible fate. But when you challenge the gods, you challenge the very fabric of society. Declared an outcast, Brogan and his kin are hunted like criminals – but nothing will stand in his way.

Review

The Last Sacrifice is a splendid tale of vengeance and defying the gods. Just like the author's epic tale of Seven Forges, The Last Sacrifice is an enthralling fast-paced book with ass-kicking characters who could only grow stronger as the series progresses. With that, I'm waiting for the day the characters will truly shine and I bet the character development will be awesome for I know the author will not fail me, for he didn't in my now beloved Seven Forges series.

Women are strong in this series. They are fighters and they could make their own decisions. The servants of the gods, the Grakhul for instance, maybe different from humans (they're partly monsters) but the warriors among them are the female ones. I can't help but think of them as looking like the Nether-Thralls of the game, Torchlight II.

In this book, we follow into the rage mode story of Brogan McTyre. The gods have always asked for four human sacrifices, usually one from each kingdom. This time, the Grakhul have chosen to take all members of Brogan McTyre's family. In his fitful rage, Brogan McTyre has gone above and beyond to rescue his family, calling upon his friends, mostly those indebted to him, to attack the Grakhul. This spurred him later on on a decision to defeat the Gods and survive.

I initially wrote this review on November 2016. I wasn't able to finish this before the publishing date because the bulleted list for my review contains more negative things than positive ones. I definitely love this book but I got nothing more positive to say other than of it being impressive. I'm afraid I might say the same things I said about the books from the Seven Forges series and the reasons being... you will find below.

Things I find in good/bad in this book:
  • It's just quite amazing. Brogan's crew, just out of the blue, find him magically.
  • As usual, everyone gets to have an ace up their sleeve: a magician.
  • The tone and mood are so similar with that of Seven Forges.
  • The book has a really strong voice, a voice that's flat: angry.
  • There's a setting there that I can only imagine as the pit where Gerard Butler screamed in the film, 300, "This is Sparta."

I'm terribly sorry for this because I can't help myself in musing. I feel that the characters just drown in sameness with that of the characters from Seven Forges and I don't like it. I don't know if it's just the author's writing style (I only read one of his series) but I've read multiple books from other authors and each of the books (or series) feel different. This one is just the same with that of Seven Forges. I usually have a clean slate of mind when I read a new book but I just can't help but to compare this one with that of another series.

There's this character in The Last Sacrifice named Niall Leraby who has this uncanny likeness to Andover in Seven Forges. They're not much alike in circumstances but they're the same in character: courageous but gentle in manner, naive but willing to learn, eager to prove himself strong and has an unrequited love. That's not really disturbing. Other readers might not detect it. What's really uncanny to me is that the main character, Brogan McTyre, has a Merros Dulver feel to him. Merros was the first introduced among the main characters in The Seven Forges series. Both Brogan and Merros have entirely different backgrounds and motivations but they feel the same to me. I don't know if the fault is entirely my own but I've never felt such likeness even in contemporary romance novelettes (that you can read in two hours). It's like reading a reincarnation of Merros in an alternate universe.

Speaking of the universe, I think that the setting for The Tides of War series is just the other side of the world in Seven Forges. Perhaps, the author has mentioned it somewhere (not in the books) that the world of Seven Forges lives on in another ongoing series but I don't know about that. For readers out there, if this is your introduction to the works of James A. Moore and you happen to love The Last Sacrifice, I highly recommend for you to read Seven Forges. This book is a good read. It has an intriguing story but it doesn't have such strong pull that Seven Forges had with me. I would like to say that the reason I'm quite taken with the similarities among characters in The Tides of War and Seven Forges is because the narration is the same for both series. So yeah, I have a love/hate relationship with it and fortunately, my love wins.

I don't know if the similarity in the narration was intended by the author to suggest the two series happen in the same universe because other authors have different voices in their books (like Neil Gaiman with American Gods, Neverwhere, The Ocean at the End of the Lane and his collaborative work with Terry Prachett, Good Omens). I can't tell yet if using the same voice for both series works or it's just James A. Moore's writing style in specifically writing a medieval fantasy series.

So why do I think Seven Forges and The Tides of War are in the same universe? Aside from the narration, this book mentions Louron. They're dark-skinned people who have magical powers concerning the dead. In Seven Forges, it was implied that Louron is one of the most distant places from the Fellein empire. Moreover, in this book, the gods are entirely involved with the affairs of men. And most men hate the gods.

The reason one has to have a clean slate of mind when reading fantasy books is because more often than not, readers would compare a book with another. Yes, clichés and tropes exist, and they shouldn't be bad. With millions of books existing in this world, it's hard to come up with something so original. As Michael J. Sullivan said, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter has broken the unwritten rule (since the 60s, a decade after Tolkien's time) that one should no longer use clichés (hence the birth of modern mystery and thriller, apt for the cold war then and the new digital age). The thing about this book is that there really is nothing for me to compare it to but the author's previous works. I was a bit disturbed with the likeness of the voice with that of Seven Forges until I had my aha moment when Louron was mentioned. With that, the author was redeemed in my eyes.

At this point, I'm no longer stirred up with the likeness of Tides of War and Seven Forges in a bad way. I definitely love this book and will read the next one of the series.


James A. Moore is the author of over twenty novels, including the critically acclaimed Fireworks, Under The Overtree, Blood Red, Deeper, the Serenity Falls trilogy (featuring his recurring anti-hero, Jonathan Crowley) and his most recent novels Alien, Sea of Sorrows as well as Seven Forges series: Seven Forges, The Blasted Lands, City of Wonders and the forthcoming sequel The Silent Army.

He has twice been nominated for the Bram Stoker Award and spent three years as an officer in the Horror Writers Association, first as Secretary and later as Vice President.

James cut his teeth in the industry writing for Marvel Comics and authoring over twenty role-playing supplements for White Wolf Games, including Berlin by Night, Land of 1,000,000 Dreams and The Get of Fenris tribe. He also penned the White Wolf novels Vampire: House of Secretsand Werewolf: Hellstorm.

Moore’s first short story collection, Slices, sold out before ever seeing print.

He lives in Massachusetts, US. Meet him on his blog and @jamesamoore on Twitter.

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