Monday, September 01, 2014

Exiles in Arms #1: Moving Targets - C.L. Werner

MOVING TARGETS is another heroic fantasy novella set in the Iron Kingdoms/Warmachine universe, like Dan Wells' THE BUTCHER OF KHARDOV that I read a while back. This one is by C.L. Werner. I've read some of Werner's stories set in the Warhammer universe (a totally different setting, although some people seem to get them confused) and enjoyed them, so I thought I might like this one as well. Turns out I was right.

This is the first book in a series called Exiles in Arms, which follows the adventures of a pair of mercenaries, Rutger Shaw, a big, tough but basically good-hearted brawler, and Taryn de la Rovissi, a beautiful gun-mage, which means the pistols she carries fire enchanted bullets that do different things depending on which spell Taryn uses. As the story opens, Rutger and Taryn are trying to get out of the country where they've been working, which is in the process of collapsing because of an invasion by a more powerful neighboring country. They get involved in the plight of some refugees, which leads to them being hired by a fleeing nobleman. That nobleman has a dangerous secret, though, and there are bad guys after him trying to capture and/or kill him. From there the action scenes are almost non-stop before Rutger and Taryn finally sort everything out and escape from the mess with their lives.

I really enjoyed this one, with a few reservations. The game-based setting, with its mixture of magic and steampunk, is really complex, and the back-story is so dense that I almost got lost a few times. The writing seemed geared more to gamers who are very familiar with the background, rather than general heroic fantasy readers like me. Understand, I don't fault Werner for that at all. Fans of the games are the real target audience for these books, after all. And I wasn't confused enough to keep me from being entertained. My other complaint is that there's not quite as much resolution to the story as I would have liked...but hey, what are sequels for, anyway?

What I really liked was the fast pace and the well-done action, as well as the colorful villains. The head bad guy's minions are gatormen, savage swamp-dwelling creatures who are, well, half-man, half-gator. (Paging Bill Crider!) Rutger and Taryn are likable heroes, too, and I plan to read the rest of the series to see what happens to them. If you're a fan of heroic fantasy, I think MOVING TARGETS is well worth reading, especially if you try to familiarize yourself a little with the setting first (as I'm doing by reading these books).

1 comment:

Bill Crider said...

Gator people! You can't go wrong there.