You might have noticed by now, but I am quite fond of the writings of Ben Galley. I don’t read a lot of self-published authors, but as far as I’ve read, he’s one of the best. It all started with his debut, the epic fantasy The Written, which I enjoyed very much. I still have to read the three other books in the series, but that’s kind of my problem, isn’t it? So when last year, the first book in his western fantasy came out, I took to reading it and enjoyed it very much. With the complete trilogy out since a couple of days, I figured it’s time I give you my opinion on the second book in The Scarlet Star Trilogy, Bloodmoon.
With Fell Falls put firmly behind him, Tonmerion Hark has only one desire: to make his way east and once again feel the soil of his Empire under his boots. But blood has been spilt. Machinations of the powerful foiled. Scores have been scraped in the desert sand and now they must be settled. A new power is growing in London, and it pines for revenge.
Now that both Tonmerion and Rhin find themselves being hunted over prairie and wasteland, he and his strange new family put their fate in the hands of a travelling circus, headed straight for the shores of the Iron Ocean, and a ship home.
There is only one truth: all will be settled on the night of the Bloodmoon.
After finishing Bloodrush, I was excited to see where Ben Galley would take the story, cause after all the happenings at the end of the first book, it was quite clear that a status quo was just no option. Merion and his company had to get going and this second book primarily focuses on them finding their way back to London to win back the Hark’s estate. From start to finish, this book is a roadtrip across the desert land of Wyoming and it gives a completely different feel to it than the previous book. Rather than the bustling town of Fell Falls, it’s all more bleak and desolate in the first half of the book. Galley turns it around by letting our heroes meet up with Cirque Kadabra, a traveling circus of rushers and letters, and this makes for an interesting spin on things, to say the least.
“a roadtrip across the desert
What I really liked about the circus is seeing how other people go about the rushing and getting to know more about this particular kind of magic. Also, while it’s all in good faith, Galley does a terrific job of maintaining a constant undercurrent of darkness throughout the seemingly jolly company, which climaxes at the very end in great fashion. A second storyline here is the happenings in London and the search for the deeds of the Hark estate. This political story contrasts nicely with the more magical of Merion and provides us with some needed insight in things. As the book progresses, you can’t help but feel that these two storylines will get together in the final book.
Aside from these two big storylines, there is the affair of Rhin. He’s taking a bit of a backseat here and I woul have liked it a bit more if the Fae were featured more prominently. This solely because I really like the lore, and while Rhin reveals it in tiny pieces and we get some chapters from the Fae, I just wanted more. Perhaps a novella about the Fae? A second smaller storyline was the once concerning Calidae Serped, the blonde serpent from the first book. Her contribution to this book is minimal, but when she gets to the forefront, she does so in style. I was actually taken aback by what she displayed and her newly forged alliance troubles me a bit. I guess Bloodfeud will hold the answers to a lot of things.
“a constant undercurrent of darkness throughout
With the addition of Cirque Kadabra, the cast of characters knows a considerable growth. While they are not particularly a likable bunch, they are interesting to say the least. As I previously mentioned, the dark undercurrent that flows through the circus is largely due to the characters. You just feel that there is something off with them and that they have a hidden agenda. This gives them depth to keep you engaged throughout, all the while putting things in motion between the main characters. The Merion we follow in Bloodmoon is by no means the same as the boy we started out with in the first book. He’s matured a lot over the course of the two novels and as such have the relationships with his aunt and Lurker. It’s nice to feel how the balance between them has shifted and how the events impact the characters. As far as the recurring characters go, Calidae is still a mystery to me. She’s gone from spoiled brat to vengeful vixen, but her allegiance shifts to serve her own purpose, and I can’t figure out what she wants. Well yes, she states what she wants, but I have a feeling like she’ll twist things around again. Just because she can. The most interesting characters are all in America, cause those in London are all quite vile since they just serve themselves and don’t really have that sense of depth to them. Then again, they’re politicians..
As always, the writing is very solid and engaging. Galley knows how to captivate his readers and holds their attention till the very end. If I do have to fault this book on something, though, it’s the pacing. Bloodmoon is very much a slow book and things don’t start happening until the very end. While it is in no way boring, the plot is moving forward in a walking pace which makes it all too easy to put it down for the evening and continue on tomorrow.
If you enjoyed Bloodrush, you can’t go wrong with this sequel. Bloodmoon offers more of the same amazingness and despite it being a slow book, it’s still very much a solid read and a great set-up to the big finale.
★ ★ ★ ★
Buy it before the Bloodmoon goes down for another year!