Review: The Moon’s Eye

  • Title:
    • The Moon’sEye
  • Author:
    • A.J. Calvin
  • Release:
    • January 11, 2022
  • Format:
    • Paperback
  • Series:
    • The Relics of War #1

Since I despise cliffhanger endings, I’ll start off with this; this book does not wrap things up nicely with a bow. If this book looks interesting to you, you’ll want to buy all 3. Think of this as a larger book that has been split into manageable sections.

Book 1 is mostly scene-setting and world-building. The first few chapters all take place from different characters’ points of view. And there are a LOT of characters to keep track of. While there’s occasionally dialogue that could almost hint at a prequel or might require a glossary, the book just continues on and expects you to learn as you go.

While I like this, as it makes the world feel more established and doesn’t feel the need to stop and explain things to you, that’s not always the case. There are a couple of moments where characters say “As you know….” and then proceed to explain to somebody shit they already know. If somebody said that to me, I’d interrupt them, and say “What’s your point?!”.

Another instance was later on in the book when one character admits he’s gay and has a husband. While their culture has a word for it, and it fits into the language of their culture, the book proceeds to explain it. Not as a character thought, it’s just there. It feels extremely out of place and would have been better off as part of a glossary. Much like maps, I think glossaries are one of the reasons to purchase physical editions of fantasy books. Otherwise, I’d rather buy an audiobook at this point.

Of course, it wouldn’t be fiction without obnoxious, ever-present green-eyed people whose eyes are constantly referenced. While other characters’ eye colors are mentioned a few times, it’s not as prevalent as the green-eyed characters and it’s not just a problem in this book. As somebody with green eyes, it’s fucking annoying that people seem to think we’re a novelty. And I suggest you read this blog post, from 2012 by Sian Griffiths: Why Green Eyes Are A Problem in Fiction… The part I always think of, and want to reference in my reviews is; “Even among the best writers, green eyes have becomes fiction’s short hand for “pay attention to this person, s/he is *interesting.*” ………….. My point is this: I think as writers we have to up the ante for ourselves. If a character is interesting, we cannot attempt to show this by resorting to the least interesting of all fictional eye colors. We must instead show it in surprising but character-appropriate action and dialogue. In other words, if we want an interesting character we actually have to make an interesting character.

While I found some of the names to be …. lazy and uninteresting, and a handful were similar. Blademon sounds like a Pokémon or a Digimon. Malestorm for the storm god, good god, that’s lazy. Kama and Karmada, Janna and Jennavere. Some might say those last 2 aren’t that similar, but with creative and unique names like “Aeon, Vardak, Jal’den, Coreyaless, Alyra” and so on, these names that are similar stand out like a sore thumb.

With the multitude of characters, and as somebody who has trouble remembering names, I honestly wish there was a wiki or a glossary at the back of the book so I could refresh my memory on who these people were. When I read a chapter with a set of characters, I’m in the world of those characters, their plight, and so on. But when I’m 4 chapters removed from them and have been invested in the worlds of a dozen other characters since, it often took me a minute, and a re-read of the first couple of pages to remember who everybody was. I had to remind myself whose story I was following, and where they left off in the world and it took a minute.

Despite the overload of characters, I think they were all pulled off excellently. While I think the supporting cast can be a bit bland at times, they do their job of supporting the main characters and giving them interesting situations and dialogue to bounce off of. All of the characters have distinct personalities, wants, and desires. They feel like genuine, real people. One character I’d assumed was an “evil villain character” showed himself to actually have some humanity and I was genuinely surprised.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up a handful of janky scenes that annoyed the holy hell out of me. One of them, these characters are on a mission, in a dangerous location. They know the person they’re looking for is around, and then they hear somebody cumming. They immediately go “There’s no way it’s him. Prepare for a fight.” and then right after, he shows up. While it was annoying enough the first time, they did it again shortly after. The dickhead gods expect somebody to sacrifice themselves. The protagonists are all conflicted about it. The next day, a character is missing. They go on about how there’s no way they’d make the sacrifice, only to reveal that it was in fact what they’d just done.

Another involves the aforementioned gay character who came out of the closet. The subtext may as well have been a neon sign that said “I’M GAY!!!“, but it’s treated as if it was supposed to be a huge shock when it’s revealed. I just wished I could grab him by the shoulders, look him in the eyes and say “You’re not as good at hiding this as you think you are!”

It’s weird too, because not all of the big reveals fell flat for me. It’s mentioned early on that the war god, Blademon, whose name shouldn’t be taken seriously, trained a second warrior, one of which is a protagonist. When the second warrior is revealed, I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was pleasantly shocked and hadn’t really given it much thought, but I don’t know that I would have been able to predict it if I had.

You might be thinking that this review is all over the place. Yeah, …….. welcome to my thoughts on this book. I liked it, a lot. It has some janky scenes or dialogue, as I outlined above, but overall, I enjoyed it very much. I’ll say this, I often criticize the books I love just as hard as the ones I hate. I guess I just wish they could be perfect. I tend to write longer reviews for stories I’m passionate about, this being one of them.

While lately, I’ve been planning to donate most of my physical review copies to my local indie bookstore after I finish reading them, I plan to keep this series. It doesn’t have audiobooks (Yet, I hope they do someday.), and I see myself re-reading this series later on. Book 1 feels like the first third of a greater story, and not a standalone adventure, and I’m very eager to continue it.

Note: This copy was provided to me free of charge as a physical review copy. The opinions stated in this review are mine and mine alone, I was not paid or requested to give this book a certain rating, suggestion, or approval.

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