Friday, October 27, 2017

Review: Incursion (Catalyst Moon #1) by Lauren L. Garcia

Incursion (Catalyst Moon #1)

My Take:
Kalinda Halcyon is a mage crippled by a childhood injury, a magic user kept locked in a bastion to protect the rest of the world from her and those like her. When a letter from an old childhood friend offers a possibility of healing for her injury, she leaves under guard by two squads of Sentinels to travel to Whitewater, wearing handcuffs of hematite and treated like a dangerous criminal.

While in transit, the carriage and guard are attacked by a band of Canderi raiders, not the usual ilk after a mage's blood to use in healing, but ones that move and fight like raging rabid animals, with eyes that glow like stars. Although the small band of raiders should be easy work for two squads of trained and fully armed Sentinels, the guard is quickly overwhelmed and slaughtered, and only the quick thinking of the sentinel Stonewall, and some errant magic from Kalinda, help them escape, alone. 

Now, magically transported several days' journey in the wrong direction, Stonewall and Kali attempt to complete their journey and report the incident with the demon-possessed raiders, while dealing with their own embedded distrust and innate fear of one another.


Drug Content:
PG - A fair amount of drinking occurs, some to excess. Hematite is used as an addictive and slowly deadly poison, that the Sentinels drink to prevent vulnerability to magic, and aid in strength and stamina in battle.

PG-13 - The possessed Calderi have a penchant for ripping their enemies to pieces. Several citizens are wounded with badly festering gangrenous and deadly wounds, nearly at death's door, and Kali uses almost all her life force healing them. A soldier's helmet is turned red-hot, burning his scalp and partially blinding him. Some wounds are described in a bit of detail, but it's not gratuitous.

R - the F bomb is dropped 17 times, and other profanity is scattered throughout. 

Adult Content:
PG-13 Some passionate kissing occurs in several places, and there's a steamy encounter.

Christian content:
None. The sentinels and many of the townsfolk believe in a One true god, but they also believe in many sub-gods, similar to some early pagan religions. The sentinels appear devout, and sometimes offer small sacrifices to them at travelers' cairns. There is a prolonged conversation between the sentinel and the mage, who is a non-believer, about the merits of faith vs unbelief. Internal dialog (thoughts) describe both party's decisions not to drive the other away by attempting to force their views on an unwilling party. Deliverance by the One god is referenced in several situations. A people group is oppressed and subjugated, and the wrongness of this is discussed multiple times.

Final analysis:
Incursion was an action-packed adventure with some solid truths to convey, along with good character development and a gripping plot. The stakes were set high, and some mysteries were left unsolved, leaving plenty of room for the reader to salivate over the next book. The antagonists, such that they were, were well developed also, and even the minor characters, along for only a chapter or so, had depth and a character arc.

I was impressed with the quality of writing in this book, although the profanity was a bit off-putting, and the paganism was an issue I'd want to discuss with my teens if they read this. There's good discussion points in several places along the journey, and the questions raised by the novel are issues we must all deal with - issues of faith, family, loss, class distinction and hatred of those different than ourselves. Good character development and depth, action throughout, immersive world-building, Five Stars!

About the Author:
Lauren L. GarciaI've has been a storyteller all my life. I started writing down my stories at the age of twelve; two decades and over two million words later, I'm still going. My writing process often begins with a question: what if? Hot on the heels of those two words, other questions like “how?” and “why?” will follow. Inspiration comes from everywhere, though music compels my muse like nothing else. Sometimes a song will strike me, and I won't know why until I'm working on a particular character or scene; then, everything will crystallize in my mind. “Of course! This is how it should go.” 

My work is extremely character-driven; they are the heart and soul of my stories, and much of my story crafting is centered around them. As a matter of fact, In addition to Incursion and its subsequent stories, (tentatively titled Breach, Storm, and Surrender), I have about four or five other stories outlined, taking place at various points in the world's history, with more ideas in the awnings. My hope is to create a fantasy world of dazzling breadth, so stick around. The fun is just beginning. :)

In addition to living in various fantasy worlds of my own making, I earned a BA in English Literature and married my high school sweetheart. I live in North Florida with my husband, and enjoy hiking, weightlifting, kayaking, looking at pictures of food, and dancing at music festivals. 

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