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From Moon to Joshua (The Sands of Deliverance Book 1) Kindle Edition
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At this particular docking day, Drayaden isn't doing so well. But Malcolm, the closest thing he has to a friend, comes to his rescue and they get a group of people onto a wagon and race to Safeport where from there they can get the people sent to safe towns in the area. But the black cloaks are on their heels and the two of them don't look like they will make it. On the ship, Esper up in the sky which escorted the prison train, Anya Claire Ragnarock, an officer, takes one of the crystillium rifles and uses the fire round to take out the black cloaks. Drayaden can see her from the ship and wonders why she did it. Commander Ressin, her commanding officer, understands, but still, has to report her.
After Drayaden gets patched up by Rosalina, a woman he doesn't want to admit to caring about, and dodges another recruitment spiel by Nicholai Stone, the charismatic head of the Regiment, he goes to the bar in Northwall the last place before the desert and is approached by a woman who asks him to look for her husband and son who received a message to go to Joshua and haven't come back. She is willing to trade a place at her home for his services. In Desert Land people barter for what they need. There is no monetary system. Guns and bullets are hard to come by and crystillium weapons are unheard of. Most people use knives or whatever they can put together.
Before Anya can be brought up on charges for what she did back at the Desert Land with the rifle, she and Commander Ressin have been ordered to go back to Desert Land to pick up Drayaden Sinclaire and bring him back to Toreth, the main city. They are told that he destroyed the town of Joshua and that he was part of a secret project under Special Operations Division and that he performed well until he fled before completing training. He is to be returned to them immediately. Resslin and Anya don't completely buy what Special Operations is selling but they have a job to do. Drayaden and Malcolm have traveled to Joshua to hunt for that woman's husband and son, but instead, find not a trace of a town. It has been completely obliterated. The only thing left is a set of large footprints. This is when Drayaden is caught by Resslin and Anya.
On board the Esper, Drayaden has a flashback to when he was on that ship or one just like it--when he was possibly experimented on. He really doesn't remember anything. It was bad enough that he escaped to the Desert Land. The Desert Land is a desolate and hopeless place no one wants to go to, so he was pretty desperate to go there to leave behind whatever horrors he had been facing.
It turns out that the whole thing was a setup. The black cloaks have taken over the ship. While the battle over the ship wages, Drayaden goes to get his sword back. To save the lives of Anya and Resslin he draws it partially and lightning crackles across the sky and unearthly rain begins to pour down. The lightning strikes the ship and takes it down. With a great deal of force, Drayaden is able to put the sword back into its holder without killing anyone else. The sword makes him want to kill everything in sight once it's drawn. They take motorbikes and jump to the ground to avoid the crashing plane. Drayaden has them go to Safeport.
He and Malcolm tell them about the footprint at Joshua and how they are going to investigate it and Resslin and Anya are welcome to come along if they want to. So all four set out to discover what leveled a town. Anya and Resslin still aren't completely sure it wasn't Drayaden but this way they can keep an eye on him. They also aren't sure that anyone is coming back for them. Drayaden and Malcolm teach them how to fight with Desert Land weapons in hand to hand combat something the military had stopped training their recruits. Following these footprints will lead to many surprises and lots of death and destruction. As a heads up, this book ends on a real nail-biting cliffhanger. I fell in love with the young silver-haired, duster wearing Drayaden who is quick on the draw and deadly in a knife fight, or any fight for that matter. He doesn't know how to quit which may be his undoing. He is an honorable man who holds to oaths and when he gives his word he sticks to it. You can't say that about all the characters in this book. This was a truly enjoyable read and I can't wait for the next book in the Sands of Deliverance series to come out so I can find out what happens.
Everyone here cast shadows, shadows of their former lives, of what they used to be. And everyone knew how to handle them: don’t let your shadows come alive. Keep them where they’re supposed to be—in the dark.-Matthew Moffitt (From Moon to Joshua p 20)
A man who did not question his fate when stepping into this purgatorial land was a man who did not value life. There were times when you could learn a great deal about a man by asking him one simple question: did you ever wonder why? Beware those who said no.-Matthew Moffitt (From Moon to Joshua p 33)
When you started to dig, you ended up finding things that you wished would have remained unearthed; sure, some people strike gold and others find an ore reservoir of some sort. But did you know what you usually found when you started digging around in people’s backyards? Bones. The bones of the past. The bones of their memories. The bones of regret. That was all.-Matthew Moffitt (From Moon To Joshua p 54)
Moon to Joshua moves toward a conclusion that is not entirely expected, and where the characters discover that they are forced to look at the darker side of humanity, where desperate people take advantage of others and exploit the weak for their own gains. This is where I think that Moffitt’s writing shines. While he could have stayed within the typical sci-fi story telling experience, he instead delves into an exploration of the experience of loss and trauma and how it affects individuals with few resources and little hope. Likely a result of his psychology training (as mentioned on the back cover), his descriptions of these character experience is likely to make a person pause to consider how they might be changes by similar tragedies, and his descriptions of how a character might react to these events offers, for the most part, hope for those who have experienced trauma themselves.
By the end of the book I found myself wanting more. More desert world, with its interesting supernatural properties, more thrilling gun-slinger battles, and more of the struggles of Drayaden and the other characters that exist in this riveting story. Hopefully the next one comes out soon. I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in new writers and an exploration of psychological themes with individuals who struggle to find answers about what a person who always pays his debits is capable of.