Book Review: Moth (Book One) by Daniel Arenson

“They say the world used to turn. They say that night would follow day in an endless dance. They say that dawn rose, dusk fell, and we worshiped both sun and stars.   That was a long time ago.   The dance has died. The world has fallen still. We float through the heavens, one half always in light, one half always in shadow. Like the moth of our forests, one wing white and the other black, we are torn.”

Let me just say that I’ve skipped many meals and probably did my bladder a huge disservice while devouring the pages of this first of six books in Daniel Arenson’s Moth Saga. An absolute page turner it was, had me metaphorically licking my fingers with every chapter. I simply could not put it down and when I did so―very briefly―I returned to my room and booted up my laptop with every intention of finishing the movie that Daniel’s prowess at creating vivid imagery had led me to believe I’d been watching prior to the “interlude”. I kid you not it took me a few seconds to remember that it had been a book I was just reading.

To be honest I don’t think any Hollywood adaptation, even with a team of the best computer graphics artists would be able to do justice to the world that Daniel has created solely with his words. His writing is very detailed and descriptive and there are many wonders of Moth that nothing besides one’s imagination will ever be able to capture perfectly. Albiet finding it a bit of an overkill and repetitive in some parts I had needed the descriptions to help me distinguish between characters such as Hem and Cam, whom I kept comically mixing up.

Moth tells the story of a very inventive and captivating world where one half is thrown into eternal day and the other into eternal night. This was after the planet had been struck by a comet thousands of years ago which apparently caused it to stop turning on its axis. The land mass, which is ironically shaped like a moth, became split into two realms: Timandra and Eloria. Land of day and night, respectively, separated by Dusk. A narrow strip of land where light and dark touched.

For the longest while the inhabitants of either sides believed each other to be mere creatures of myths until a series of calculated events orchestrated by a twisted mastermind led both race of people to face off against each other donning shields and brandishing swords.

The story of Moth is told in thirty chapters and from a number of character’s perspectives. I’m not usually a fan of books typically written this way but it was done in third person which made for a less circumscribed narrative. In fact I was pleasantly surprised and quite relieved by the break it afforded me from the first storyline we’d been introduced to, because to be honest, the main antagonist was giving me high blood pressure. As this is a spoiler-free review I won’t get into the details, just sharpened your mental pitchforks and be prepared to use them with the intent to kill. He is a snake and neither he nor Daniel Arenson’s choice of metaphors makes any bones about proving it.

 I must admit that at times the main characters came off as flat and lacking initiative but towards the end they paid for and made up for the short-comings that had landed them in hot water in the first place. Their growth as warriors and as individuals did not happen overnight. It took all of twenty odd chapters and while most readers would complain that it took that much time I was grateful to have motioned with Torin and Koyee through their development. Very often in stories character move from point “a” to “x” without any form of justification other than that they had needed character development.

It’s a common misconception that development entails the erasure of an undesirable trait from a character to make them “better”. But flaws make for more realistic characters and in reality people don’t always or completely change.

Take Torin for example. He started out as a humble gardener and a less than assertive village guard. But even after bloodshed and war had hardened him, his humility remained intact and he did not lose all of his tenderness. He lost enough to demonstrate growth but kept enough for us to be reminded that he was still Torin Greenmoat of Fairwool-by-night.

 As far as plot criticisms go I’d have to say that while I was thoroughly engaged in the breathtaking sceneries and action-packed battles there was never a moment when I was caught off guard or surprised by a plot twist. There was none, except for the one revealed to the end of the book. By then I’d hated that character so much I couldn’t have cared less if a whale had shat him out of its anus. I guess what I’m trying to say is that whilst not entirely predictable, the general direction of the story was too “dead-set”.

With that said, I look forward to the next five books in the series and more from Daniel Arenson who has climbed his way to the top of my favourite fantasy author.

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Images courtesy of the Moth Gallery:

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