Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Channel War - M. Edward McNally

    2013; ?? pages, but the file size is a hefty 1,728 KB.  New Author? : No.  Book 5 of The Norothian Cycle series.  Genre :  Epic Fantasy.  Overall Rating : 9*/10.

    The Gunnak dragons are coming!  Well actually, they’re sending their proxy Martan humans to do battle with the beings under the influence of the old, Great Dragons.  John the Red, née John Deskata, leads the crack Martan legion that is spearheading the invasion.

    Ah, but our heroes, Zeb and Tilda, are about to have a child.  And running a profitable import/export business, plus a joint venture with a fishing enterprise is time-demanding.  Surely some other heroes can deal with John.

    Yeah right.

What’s To Like...
    The series keeps getting bigger and better with each volume.  There is a nice balance here between action (fighting and magic) and drama (character development).  We meet some new species – halflings, dwarves, and gnolls (the gnolls are probably not new, but it's been a while) – as well as one of the Great Dragons of the Land.  It’s always kewl to meet a dragon.

    M. Edward McNally once again expands the Norothian universe – which means he had to develop more maps and we get to meet a bunch of new people.  To boot, ANAICT he catches us up on all the old characters (with even a passing mention of dear Miss Horn), so unless you’ve just gotten done with the first four books, you might want to make a list of Who’s Who.  The author does give a brief backstory as each person steps onto the stage, but really, this isn’t a standalone tale.

    The structure of The Channel War reminds me of Book 1, The Sable City.  For a while, it’s mostly slash and flash, and I started to wonder how much progress would be made in the “grand story”.  But not to worry, several major issues get resolved in the final section (Part 3).  The book ends nicely – the first phase of the Martan invasion is done.  But the ending also sets up Book 6, with the promise of revenge, retribution, and even broader horizons for at least one of our heroes.     

Kewlest New Word…
    Barmy (adj.) : Crazy; Insane; Eccentric.  (Britishism).  A corruption of “Balmy” which, as a Britishism, means the same thing.

    “Vicious, foolish young wyrms may sack a castle or seize coins only for aggrandizement, but the Greats have long known there are better ways.  The Great Dragons do not raid and ransack in search of wealth.  They use the greed and pettiness and stupidity of men and nations to gather wealth to themselves.  That is how they measure their power against that of their fellows.”  (loc. 1690)

    The riders had reached the edge of the sandy depression where they stopped, all three archers training their aim on Allison at the maximum pull for their short bows.
    “Hey!” Allison shouted, and tried to find some appropriate words in her limited store of Martan.  Harmouf meshfada!
    The six Martan men only exchanged glances.
    “You said sheep combers,” Rully said, now standing as closely behind Allison as he could without putting his face in her backside.  “You meant hfeshada.”
    Harmouf hfeshada!
    All three archers loosed their shots.  (loc. 2530)

Kindle Details...
    The Channel War sells for $4.99 at Amazon, as do Books 2-4 of the series.  Book 1, The Sable City, is free.  You can’t beat that, so what are you waiting for?

“There is always a pretext that will move men toward war, it is just a matter of finding the right one.” (loc. 1862)
    So what separates this epic fantasy series from the hundreds of other ones available for your Kindle?  For me, it is the complexity of the conflict and the “grayness” of the characters.

    Conflict-wise, the young dragons have pitted themselves against the older dragons.  Neither group is exactly heroic.  Their human minions don’t just line up loyally behind them.  There are national grudges that often override the Dragons’ agenda.  Even our knights in shining armor – the Codian Empire – make some terrible misassumptions that lead to needless and costly strife.  I like it when things aren’t black-&-white.

    Then there is the third force - the Devils.  Just because they’re demonic doesn’t mean they have to be the black hats.  Frankly, their strategy against the Gunnak menace makes the most sense to me.  And when that’s the case, you can pretty much expect to get hit with some major plot twists in the next book.

    There is a short-but-enlightening afterword from M. Edward McNally at the conclusion of The Channel War.  It’s much better than the ones Stephen King and Piers Anthony write.  Be sure to read it; it gives useful insight into where this series is going.  9 Stars.


Toffeesmum said...

Nice review. I'm coming up on 83% through The Channel War and think you've covered it nicely.
However, being a Brit, I think you must be barmy if you think barmy is a kewl new word.

(I like kewl, that is new to me, well that spelling is!)

Hamilcar Barca said...

Hi Toffeesmum! Thanks for stopping by.

LOL re "barmy". I read a fair amount of British authors, and love the fact that "English English" and "American English" are not quite the same.

I presume you've read the rest of the books in The Norothian Cycle? i'll be very interested in hearing what you think of both the book, The Channel War and the series as a whole. i think they're both great, but maybe it's just me.