A massive army on the brink of conquest looms large in a world where prophecies are lies, magic is believed in but never seen, and hope is where you least expect to find it.
Welcome to the Five Isles, where war has come in the name of the invading army of Sør Sevier, a merciless host driven by the prophetic fervor of the Angel Prince, Aeros, toward the last unconquered kingdom of Gul Kana. Yet Gault, one of the elite Knights Archaic of Sør Sevier, is growing disillusioned by the crusade he is at the vanguard of just as it embarks on his Lord Aeros’ greatest triumph.
While the eldest son of the fallen king of Gul Kana now reigns in ever increasing paranoid isolationism, his two sisters seek their own paths. Jondralyn, the older sister, renowned for her beauty, only desires to prove her worth as a warrior, while Tala, the younger sister, has uncovered a secret that may not only destroy her family but the entire kingdom. Then there’s Hawkwood, the assassin sent to kill Jondralyn who has instead fallen in love with her and trains her in his deadly art. All are led further into dangerous conspiracies within the court.
And hidden at the edge of Gul Kana is Nail, the orphan taken by the enigmatic Shawcroft to the remote whaling village of Gallows Haven, a young man who may hold the link to the salvation of the entire Five Isles.
You may think you know this story, but everyone is not who they seem, nor do they fit the roles you expect. Durfee has created an epic fantasy full of hope in a world based on lies.
“Trust is fleeting, while betrayal is timeless. Alas, life is crowded with lies. So be bloody, be brave, be happy. For at the end of every tale, nobody is who they seem to be. . . .”
The quote above is the perfect segway into this review. This is a tale of intrigue. A tale of corruption, deceit, and betrayal. A story where you have no idea what is going to happen, who is good, who is bad, and how it will all turn out in the end. I loved it!
A quick shoutout needs to go out to one of my favorite narrators ever, Tim Gerard Reynolds. He really made this story come to life!
In my opinion, the biggest strength of this first entry in The Five Warrior Angels trilogy was the intrigue and complexity of the plot. Brian Lee Durfee has woven a tale that is full of mystery, subtle hints, and deception so even the reader has no clue how everything will end. I was riveted to the page throughout this 780-ish page tome wanting to know what would happen next, what mystery would be revealed, and what would come of all of this madness that the story provides. I am not typically one to like a book that has a majority of the plot revolve around political intrigue, however Durfee gets it right. There is real danger behind the mystery and tensions that surround the plot, keeping the reader intently engaged and invested in where the story will go, who will betray who, and who will survive. I loved that part of this book.
“If a man wasn’t killed in war, then that man’s mind, spirit, and emotions decayed, or, even worse, were willfully buried because of it.”
Speaking of madness, this story is very dark. Durfee does not shy away from the horrors of war so if you are sensitive to that kind of thing this may not be the book for you. The Forgetting Moon has a world that is fleshed out enough to understand while still not giving away all of its secrets. As we go along this journey we get to learn more and more about this wonderful, albeit grim, world that the author has created.
If I had to describe the type of story that this is I would defintely call it character driven. There are a total of 4 main POV characters and 4 pop up POVs. As I said this is a somewhat complex story, but in the best of ways. Our 4 main characters, Nail, Jondralyn, Tala, and Gault, all have different things that make their POVs interesting. Gault is interesting just being who he is, but also because we get to see a POV from the invading army’s perspective. Nail’s POV is great because of the things happening around him and the side characters that we are introduced to in Gallow’s Haven. I would say Tala has the most character growth throughout this story and has the most interesting POV in part because of her growth, but also because there is a ton of intrigue and danger in her part of the story. Jondralyn’s POV was intriguing and felt like it was setting up a lot for the rest of the series. Their are also a ton of side characters that play big parts in this story that I found very interesting and became invested in their fates.
This is not only a really great debut novel, but is also just a really great book in general. The Forgetting Moon is epic in every sense of the word and I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here!
“In life, as in war, more is lost when hope dies, than by a cold steel and slaughter. —”