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Blue Moon Rising by Simon R. Green

Posted by travizzt on May 29, 2010

Dragons, unicorns, unspeakable evil, a princess who can handle herself, and a prince who doesn’t act like a prince. Can the prince become the hero the land needs and win the love of the rescued princess?

Blue Moon Rising
by Simon R. Green- This is the first book of a series of stand-alone novels under the title of Forest Kingdom. However, each book is an entirely new story with different characters. The second book is called Blood and Honour and the third book is called Down Among the Dead. The two main protagonists are also the main characters in Simon R. Green’s Hawk and Fisher series (No Haven for the Guilty, Devil Take the Hindmost, The God Killer, Vengeance for a Lonely Man, Guard Against Dishonour, Two Kings in Haven, and Beyond the Blue Moon). Simon R. Green has written a number of various series; Twilight of the Empire, Deathstalker, Deathstalker Legacy, Nightside, and Secret Histories. His is currently starting a new series called Ghostfinders that has its first book due out in August 2010. He’s written two stand-alone novels, Shadows Fall and Drinking Midnight Wine, and has written a number of short stories. Blue Moon Rising was originally released in 1991 and published by Roc.

Prince Rupert knows he was sent on an impossible mission to slay a dragon. He knows his father, King John, sent him to die so that his older brother, Prince Harald, can become the next king. With his unicorn, Rupert journeys deep into the forest and into a place called the Tanglewood, a ‘buffer zone’ to the evil and corrupt land called the Darkwood. In order to find the dragon, Rupert has to seek the aid of a Night Witch, who tells him that the dragon is found beyond the Darkwood. Rupert and his unicorn travel in and beyond the oppressive darkness and barely make it out alive. After finding the dragon, he learns that the dragon is a peaceful creature who has a princess under his care. A princess who has been tormenting the dragon for a while. After ‘saving’ Princess Julia from the dragon, and finding out he can’t kill so noble a creature, the group travel back to the Forest Kingdom and his father. During the trip back through the Darkwood, things don’t go well for the group and they barely makes it out alive. Upon returning to his home, Rupert learns that the demons from the Darkwood are attacking the Forest Lands and the kingdoms only hope lies with an exiled Warlock. To make things worse, Julia finds out that Rupert’s brother, Harald, is who she was to marry. As war looms over the land, Rupert is sent out to bring back the Warlock and travel, once again, through the Darkwood. When he returns, things are not looking good.

1) Cliché. Wow was this story cliché. There barely seemed to be anything that was unique or new. What should I start with? How about the story. I know it’s hard to write a new and fresh story, but this was just too basic. How bad is it when a story is just basically about good vs. evil? Sure, there were a few ‘twists’ but that’s the whole premise. This wasn’t very horrible, but it grated on my nerves. Speaking of twists, this story had them and guess what? They were terrible. The biggest twist comes after we find out who the Demon Prince is talking to in a scene around the middle of the book. We don’t know who they are but it soon becomes obvious, and that’s pathetic. I don’t want to give it away, but I will say this. Harald would have made a lot more sense and would have felt justified. I will give the story this though, it was hard to believe it wasn’t Harald. Even when we do find out who it was, it didn’t come as a shock at all. The twists were way to obvious. Finally we have the characters. Each character is a horrible cliché, but I’ll get into that next.
2) Characters. Almost all the characters we meet are just basic and stock. There is really nothing unique about them. Rupert is as boring as they come. He does have his moments though, but for the most part, he has to be one of the blandest and annoying main characters I’ve ever read about. He just isn’t likable. The Warlock is the stock old man who has great power but can’t go a minute without drinking. While this character wasn’t totally awful, I just found him annoying. The Champion who accompanies Rupert is probably the worst cliché. He’s every stories impossibly strong warrior who is stoic and unmoving. But even with the clichés, the real problem was that every character felt underdeveloped. There just wasn’t enough to make me actually care about these people. They were just two-dimensional and unrealistic that I could barely stand them. That being said, I loathed Julia. I absolutely did not like her and because of this I WILL SPOIL things about her. When we first met her, she seemed okay and great. As the story wore on, my opinion barely changed. She was decent and somewhat likable. But all that changed in a blink of an eye. After Rupert leaves to find the Warlock, Julia is left alone at the castle. The whole time we see her there she’s thinking about Rupert and missing him. It seems like she might love him. Ever since she found out who Harald was, she would always try to hurt or avoid him. Yet, what happens when Rupert returns? It seems like she totally forgot about him. Going so far as trying to make Rupert jealous with Harald. She turns into this petty person and that the worst thing. She basically becomes a high schooler in how she acts. Sure seven months is a long time, but it seems like she just started to realize that Rupert wouldn’t be coming back at about month four or five. Then after a few pages, she’s suddenly back with Rupert. Why? Did she suddenly realize that she loves Rupert, well yes she does. But it just seemed so wishy-washy and was just plain poor character development that I can’t help but hate her.
3) Relationships. I think the biggest problem with the story is character relationships. They just don’t ever seem to form. In the case of Rupert and Julia, we are told that they love each other by page one hundred. There was no building up the relationship, there was barely anything. All we were told is that a few months pass and Julia and Rupert seemed to like each other. That’s it. Then we have Rupert and the dragon. It’s the same case as Julia, but for friendship. We’re just told that they are friends. Yet for about three-quarters of the story, the dragon isn’t in it. So when he finally returns, it’s suddenly like Rupert and the dragon are buddies. What makes this worse is that on the back of the book it says, “But the dragon turned out to be a better friend than anyone back at the castle.” Huh? Seriously there doesn’t seem to be any friendship that developed other than being told that they were. It’s lazy.

1) Humor. The story was really funny. It reads more like a parody than a serious fantasy novel, and it actually works. The jokes and situations that the characters get into are really humorous. However, it felt like only half the story was a parody while the other half was serious. It didn’t help that the humor and seriousness meshed together in the same paragraph. I just felt wrong. But I can forgive that because I really did enjoy most of the humor.
2) John and Harald. These were the only characters that seemed to have some depth to them. King John was by far the best. He was the most complex and interesting. From his friendship with the court Astrologer we see a deep and insightful character. There were times when he came off as swallow and unlikable, but these were times when the story actually needed him to be. As for Harald, he was just plain interesting. The way that Harald teased Rupert was great and the fact that he hides his loyalty to his father and land so well just made him memorable.
3) Last Quarter. I really enjoyed the last quarter. It did have its problems (Julia, obvious twists, and poor showing of relationships), but it was exciting and fun. The action scenes were confusing, but it felt right. The desperation that the characters felt, I felt. I couldn’t keep the book down for too long during this time. It was a fun ride to the finish.

Side Notes:
1) Scenes. Why was it that we would have three paragraphs with one persons view-point and suddenly switch to another? It was kind of jarring at first, but easily adaptable.
2) Cover Art. I know that there are a few different versions, but the one I’m going to be talking about is the one above. It’s pathetic and boring. Sure the unicorn and dragon look great. Rupert and Julia are laughably bad. But what bothers me is the white. It’s just too lazy and boring.

Overall: 3/5
Final Thoughts:
Blue Moon Rising should have stayed being a parody. It would have worked better with it being cliché, but once it turned serious, the cliché things just became unbearable. The characters were pathetic. They were so underdeveloped and unlikable that the only people I enjoyed were the king and Harald. At least they had some substance. The other major problem was that I never believed the relationships between these characters were there. I don’t like being told they are friends, I want to see it unfold. It’s just lazy otherwise. All in all, I have to say that Blue Moon Rising is a decent read. It’s exciting at points, boring at others but it does its job. If you like parodies, definitely pick it up. Otherwise, use your judgment.

One Response to “Blue Moon Rising by Simon R. Green”

  1. Terry Sayers said

    I strongly disagree. My wife does not read fantasy, but after reading several paragraphs aloud to her (I couldn’t help myself), she became interested and read the book. Twice, so far. She intends to read again sometime when she wants a feel good moment and some laughs. The characters were not your usual run-of-the-mill heroes. The cowardly unicorn (who wasn’t), the littlest goblin who was noble, the kick-ass princess, and the disgruntled prince all were interesting characters. The dragon was unusual and great in the beginning but didn’t have as big a role later on. The older brother was the usual egotistical bastard counter to the hero. All-in-all an enjoyable read from a different and somewhat more realistic angle. Definitely not a fairy tale from Mother Goose.

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