Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Last Sacrifice

The Last Sacrifice (The Tides Of War #1)The Last Sacrifice by James A. Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Petty gods. Hungry gods. Angry gods.

For as long as the world can remember the Undying go from place to place town to town looking for sacrifices for their gods. Each month they select four who are ritually sacrificed. This time they selected all from one family, Brogan McTyre's entire family. Brogan and his friends rush off to try to save them only to arrive in time to see Brogan's wife die and realize his children were murdered first. The gods aren't pleased that Brogan and his men attempted to interfere with the sacrifices and now the gods have demanded their lives for atonement or they'll destroy the world.

The Last Sacrifice is such a hopeless story yet it centered itself around topics anyone could relate to in anger, love, and injustice. A man had his entire family stolen away to be sacrificed, but he loved his family so dearly he chose to defy the gods because of the injustice. When he failed and learned his family was slaughtered he reacted in anger like anyone would.

"Tell me you would have done differently! Tell me man to man, husband to husband, and father to father that you would do anything differently to save your family!

I called in every debt I had in this world, every favor owed, every coin owed, and asked that those who call me brother help me in my time of need. I still lost them. I saw them slaughtered. I failed!"

Would you let your family be killed if it meant saving the world? I could fool myself and say the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, but those who normally say that are among the many not the few. I'd probably doom the world to save my family or avenge them just like Brogan.

The ending to The Last Sacrifice was unsatisfying, but at least the series continues on. The beginning was strong and heart wrenching as Brogan loses his family and avenges them as best he can, but things quickly devolve into fleeing and planning. The gods want Brogan and his friends as their next sacrifice so Brogan plans to kill them all. It was a bit too drawn out for my tastes. It would have been more enjoyable to see the beginning increased for greater emotional effect and then condense what happened afterward.

I also feel as though the story has provided hints that the gods are far from all powerful. On more than one occasion someone recalled a story that the current gods killed the god's who created the world and stole it for themselves. Also if these gods were as powerful as everyone thinks then why would anyone be able to defy them and live. These gods are likely vulnerable.

The Last Sacrifice tells an emotional story in a bleak world and I look forward to the sequel.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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The White Tower

The White Tower (The Aldoran Chronicles #1)The White Tower by Michael Wisehart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A thousand years ago after the Wizards Wars, people outlawed the use of magic. People caught wielding magic are rounded up by the Black Watch, taken to the White Tower, and are never seen again. Unfortunately people don't choose to have magic, they are born with magical ability. The remaining magic users do their best to hide their powers. A dark practitioner of magic is amassing his forces and anyone who does not serve him is in danger in the days to come.

I had high expectations for The White Tower after reading the prequel Shackled. Shackled was so strong and simple that immediately after finishing it, I started reading The White Tower. I had to know what happened to Ferrin. When I started reading I realized it may take a while to learn Ferrin's fate because unlike Shackled with a single point of view character, The White Tower had a whopping 21 point of view characters.

Despite the many point of view characters the story revolves around four of them. The chosen one Ty, the Guardian Protector Ayrion, the weapon smith Ferrin, and the Dark Wizard Valtor. Ty has grown up hidden with a family of wielders and doesn't know who he really is as the story begins. Ayrion is an exiled young man from a famous warrior clan. He has a magical power to see slightly in the future, a sort of spider-sense against danger. Ferrin has magical power over metal which has allowed him to become an outstanding weapon smith. Unfortunately for him his notoriety and use of magic led to him being imprisoned at the White Tower. Valtor is the main antagonist of the book. Despite being a Wizard, Valtor clawed his way to becoming the leader of the White Tower. His machinations are grand and he won't allow anyone to stand in his way.

The White Tower suffers a bit because of the authors love of his world and work. He loves it all so dearly that he wants to talk through each part of everything. He can't seem to let his many tiny details go. This leads to many chapters that seem desperate for some hard edits.

Another thing that bothered me is Valtor's actions at the White Tower. He captures the magic users who are known as wielders and tortures them. He either turns them to his side or takes their powers through purging. Valtor is a wielder though. He's torturing and tormenting people like him rather than figuring out a better way. One of the characters even questions it aloud saying, "Why in the Defiler's name are you hunting down, torturing, and murdering the very people you should be protecting?" Why indeed? It seems as though some sort of false rescue could sway the wielders to his side without the threat of physical harm or death. Valtor could literally accomplish the same goal in a different, less devastating, manner.

With all that being said there were some enjoyable parts to the story. I enjoyed Ferrin's tale from start to finish. Ayrion's precognitive magical powers made him interesting in the battle sequences. I thought most of the characters stories ended in exciting ways that left me interested in what would happen to them next.

The White Tower was a promising story that could have benefited from more careful editing and removing a bunch of point of view chapters from support characters.

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