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Mountains of the Moon (World of Neveyah) Kindle Edition
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Having read Tower of Bones and Forbidden Road, I was thrilled when I discovered Connie was writing a story set two generations previous.
Wynn Farmer, the grandfather of Edwin (the main character in Tower of Bones), finds himself in what is, for him, unknown territory. He’s met by a mage who takes him to Aeoven, the main city in Neveyah, where he falls in love, marries, then finds out he needs to go on a quest with three others to stop a rogue mage from committing any further dastardly deeds.
I won’t say any more about the intricacies of the plot as I hate reading spoilers in reviews. However, I will discuss it in general terms.
The story begins slowly and gathers momentum as you continue through the pages, reaching an amazing climax just before the end – a bit like good sex really. But all innuendo aside, it has to be that way as the four questers train for a task that will test them to their limits. As the story unfolds, the main character grows into his skin, learning to control his magic along the way. Events affect all the companions prior to leaving for the quest which adds nicely to the story.
Once the quest begins and the four mages are on the outskirts of their destination, having had to deal with various strange creatures on route, the author turns up the heat. She twists and turns the fates of the four in ways which are totally unexpected. I’m not going to reveal whether they all make it out alive or uninjured – you’ll have to read the book for that – but suffice to say, the ending was momentous and satisfying.
Connie crafts her characters in totally relatable ways. None of them are without faults and some are more lovable than others, but all of the main cast are definitely memorable. The dialogue is as realistic as the characters. They have their strengths and weaknesses, fears, loves, and insecurities, just like you or I. My favourite character was Wynn, closely followed by Devyn D’Mal. Those of you who have read Tower of Bones will undoubtedly recognise that surname! Her ‘baddies’ are deliciously heinous, but are also realistic. They have aspirations to climb the proverbial ladder to success, which in their case is being rewarded by Tauron, the Bull God, but they also have their self-doubts, relationships, and varying degrees of arrogance and subservience.
Jasperson is one of the few writers on my bookshelf who can successfully build a world which is so exquisitely detailed, that it seems too real not to be fictional. She doesn’t go overboard with description, but gives just enough for the reader to fill in the gaps, yet does it in such a way that you don’t realise it. She knows the world she’s created as well as her own home town and it shows in her writing; there’s a confidence which runs through the writing as she talks about various places, which is a rare thing to find.
Overall, this book is well-written, gripping in all the right places, and a damn good story. I won’t hesitate to recommend this to fantasy fans, especially those who love epic fantasy, as I know for a fact there are more books being written in this whole series. And I, for one, can’t wait to get my hands on them!
Prequels are an odd beast. They take lots of aspects you enjoy about a work, but then have to provide something fresh, self-contained yet alluding to events of the series they proceed. They can feel rather patched together at times, contrived in their structure.
I'm happy to report that Mountains of the Moon doesn't suffer from this handicap. MotM is the prequel to Tower of Bones, the first in the Neveyah series and tells the tale of Wynn Farmer, father of John and grandfather to Edwin Farmer from the main series. In a manner not dissimilar to Ed, he passes through a portal from his parents farm into Neveyah, following the instructions of a prophecy and in the footsteps of his own legendary father.
Wynn has a magical attraction to the ladies, a gift from the gods to ensure he gets the right consort and begins the generations that will save Neveyah in the future from the minions of Tauron the Bull God.
What follows is a solid adventure fantasy wherein Wynn embarks upon a personal and physical journey, meeting companions and mentors on the way. The discovery of this new world, and its sorcery and religions, allow us to learn the background detail of Jasperson's excellent milieu. The detail of the world, its magic, its faith and the customs of Neveyah are rich and detailed and on a par with some of fantasies best. It was one of the highlights of Tower of Bones, and Forbidden Road, and this depth (without slowing the plot) is apparent in this book also.
The characters are well drawn- Wynn is brilliant yet naive and clumsy; Rall is tempestuous and at times conflicted; Devyn, although introduced late, has a slight air of danger to him; and Jules is the maverick, the rogue of the ensemble. To each their is a spouse, a female counterpart who are every bit as strong and focused as their husbands. This element is a welcome change to standard fantasy fare, and one I enjoyed in Forbidden Road, although it threatened to slow the story a touch mid-book.
The action is solidly written and, with the range of monsters, reflects the series origins in fantasy gaming. My only qualm about the book is that it takes 2/3 of the book before the main quest begins, which seemed too far through for me.
Was this a vital part of the series, to have a prequel? Probably not, although it adds a richness to the main series much in the way The Hobbit does with LOTR. Does it read well as a book? Absolutely. If you are in the mood for excellent souls adventure fantasy then you'd do well to read this.
5 stars from me.