Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Book Review: 'Moontar Menace: Book 2: Saga of the Six Realms' by Jason Beveridge
“I propose a toast to the Empress of Mu!”
Australian author Jason Beveridge began his creative journey while living in London designing a fantasy board game, titled the Middle Kingdom of Mu. After years of playing the corporate warrior, Jason found time to explore his creative side and give chase to wondrous ideas and storytelling. He built a graphic website for readers to explore the World of Mu and learn about its history, lore and key characters. He now lives in Sydney helping business owners to develop and grow their businesses. To date he has published two novels in his Saga of Six Realms – EMPEROR OF MU is Book 1 and MOONTAR MENACE is Book 2.
As an introduction to this new realm Jason provides maps of the Mu Empire and of Muaryia and the Duchies as well as a very helpful list of the major characters by House, Realm or Race. As with all worthy books of fantasy and epics of quasi-historical background, getting used to the names both of characters and places takes time. Gratefully Jason doesn’t just drop names out of the atmosphere of the various realms but instead introduces them in a comfortable, logical manner. For example, he gives entry into the story in a Prologue – ‘Two evenings following the Empress’s coronation. The private dining room at Mu Palace was lively with the chatter of family members. The portly Duke of Zuckerland had called everyone to assemble behind their seats. “My, look at this,” said Salvearre, the High Chancellor of Mu, as he surveyed the opulent dining table, “This is a setting for a veritable feast.” “How long are you going to maintain this tradition, sister?” asked Vikeesha, the Duchess of Zuckerland, indicating to the empty seat at the head of the table. The Empress Markeesha thoughtfully observed the chair where her late husband had once sat while waiting for the family members of House Mustafa and House Zuckerland to find their allotted seats. “Good question, Aunty Vee,” said Markeesha’s eldest son, Fredrick, the Duke of Inkatha. “It seems a little strange, mother. After all, as Empress, you are no the head of the Empire.”…”Before replying to my sister and my eldest son, I would first say this is the first time we’ve al been together since Fredrick and Josephine’s marriage. Dare I say it has taken Constantine’s death to bring us all together?”
The complex plot is outlined for us – ‘Handed the poison chalice, she must solve a mystery and win a war. The jubilation at the coronation was short lived when, as foretold by the Woodelven Oracle, the realms of Muaryia and Verderan are invaded by giant knights; a foe that attacks and vanishes without a trace. Seizing the moment, the Empress turns her coronation into a War Council and sends everyone back to their realms to prepare for the war ahead. What she didn’t expect was the materialization in her pocket of a magic key; one that her late husband bequeathed to her in utmost secrecy before his murder. That it should magically turn up on her coronation day, the Empress couldn’t dismiss as coincidence. “What secrets does this key promise to unlock, and why now? Did you plan for this, my husband?” she wondered. What was apparent at first takes on new shape as the hidden players behind the scenes begin to reveal themselves.’
New names, new ideas, and Jason manages to involve us to the point of initiating a hunger to turn the page and march into the story. Exceptional writing with interesting and always surprising developments make this an impressive debut for an author of fine potential.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.