I really enjoyed James Moore’s previous fantasy series, Seven Forges AKA The Blasted Lands (I’ve seen it called both; individual novels in the series are reviewed here, here, here, and here). His new series, called The Tides of War, starts with The Last Sacrifice.
The book opens with Brogan McTyre and a band of companions returning from a stint of acting as caravan guards. Before he even gets home, Brogan is met on the road by a man bearing bad news. Bad news and four gold coins. The coins were left by The Undying, raiders who sweep through and take people as sacrifices to the gods. They’ve take Brogan’s entire family.
Brogan gathers any companions willing to travel with him and goes to rescue them before they can be sacrificed. He’s not going to make it in time.
Thus starts a tale of revenge, Brogan against the gods, and the gods against Brogan and the rest of the world.
Moore’s work is always complex, with numerous moving parts that interact with each other. Among those moving parts are viewpoint characters on opposite sides. Moore usually makes them sympathetic. He certainly does this time. There are very few characters who could be called bad guys. In fact there are people who area trying to kill Brogan, and for the best of reasons. His actions have endangered the world, yet some of the people hunting him admit they would have done the same thing had they been in Brogan’s shoes.
Of course, as the story progresses, things get more complicated. New characters are introduced who will become major players, if not in this book, then certainly the next. Different people who start out in different places end up working together (or against each other) before the final chapter is reached.
There are plenty of questions left unanswered, and almost nothing is presented in black and white. There’s a level of moral ambiguity in this novel that is really hard to pull off. Most writers can’t.
James Moore started out as a horror writer, and he uses that experience to good effect here. Take a close look at the cowled figure on the cover. That’s not a human face in there. Then there’s a town that only shows up every once in a while, and what came back from it is going to be really deadly. I’ve long maintained that the best sword and sorcery has an element of horror in it. And while I wouldn’t quite characterize The Last Sacrifice as S&S, or at least not pure S&S, the horror works here and adds to the book.
I liked The Last Sacrifice a great deal. I’ve always enjoyed Moore’s work and don’t see that changing anytime soon. He just keeps getting better. Check this one out and see.