My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A Compelling Tale (With Minor Setbacks)
I’d first heard of Daniel Arenson from a friend of mine, who read Blood of Requiem. While I haven’t read Blood of Requiem, it’s easy to say that the world of Requiem is probably the world that Arenson is known the most for.
However, I decided to give the world of Moth a try instead.
What I Thought Didn’t Work Well
I thought, many times during different passages, that the narrator was being heavy-handed and hitting me over the head with details I already knew or could have figured out myself. For example, the main antagonist, Ferius, is described with snake-like characteristics, having a “slithering” tongue. I was fine with this. Many antagonists are attached to snake imagery; it’s been a literary tradition since Satan appeared as a snake in the Bible.
But when the protagonist, Torin, tells other characters that Ferius is a “snake” multiple times, Ferius as antagonist becomes more comical and less intimidating. Little moments like that throughout the book made me not take the narrator or Ferius too seriously, even though my default position in serious books, like this, is to take them seriously.
Some of the novel’s minor characters also confused me. I wasn’t sure where Suntai, Okado’s wife, stood with him at some points. At one point she tells him that they will die as an army approaches, but when Okado tells her no, she stands by him and will fight by his side.
The change felt abrupt, possibly, because I do not know her too well. She is a character that is introduced considerably later in the book than everyone else. It made her feel less developed than the other characters to me, but not because she wasn’t actually less developed than other characters. Okado knows of her past, and thus, I do.
So, in that sense, I wish I had more time with Suntai and other minor characters.
What I Thought Worked Well
The premise of the novel states that the world of Moth no longer turns. One half is lit in perpetual sunlight, while the other is in darkness, as are the two main protagonists in this world.
The world-building of this novel was very well done. I enjoyed how the world was shaped like the title creature of the novel (white and black), and that it meant something at the end (though, again, there were points where it felt a little heavy-handed). The Elorians, the people of darkness, reminded me a bit of Japanese anime characters with the way they were described, but their overall theme was, I think, east Asian. I appreciated how the way the world was described wasn’t minced. Torin had a scabbard; Koyee had a katana. Those simple nouns made me realize how European the fantasy genre is, and how it can change.
And yes. The world is believable. Human life could survive if the world didn’t turn. You’d just need to be in a good place.
I had little to no issue with the major characters: Torin and Koyee. Though I preferred Koyee’s story over Torin’s, because Koyee had to move out of the threshold of her small village to a life in the city, Torin served as a nice POV character. He maintains much of his personality throughout the novel, but if this is to be a six-book series, I will allow from some changes to be subtle rather than large.
Additionally, Bailey served as a very good foil for Torin, being the harsh, but deeply caring foster sister of the protagonist. And the gang that Koyee joins has a memorable cast as well.
But this novel is more than just a collection of characters.
What makes a work of writing a novel is also plot and theme.
Plot and Theme
The world of Moth is a world brimming with promise: full of hopes and fears for two clashing people, and two protagonists that go on different journeys to achieve peace by different means. There are triumphs and setbacks, and further players in the war to come.
I wish I could tell you more about the characters, as characters are what push the story forward, but I feel like I would be giving too much away. I want you to read it for yourself. Yes, a novel’s characters are important, but this novel is called “Moth” for a reason.
And I believe it is called “Moth,” because it’s about the world which it portrays: a world much like our own, in the future, where, if the human race is still around, has to face with prejudice, if it has not been solved already.
Daniel Arenson is a writer.
When I finished Moth, there were no loose ends. There was no cliffhanger that forced me to decide whether I wanted the next book or not. It left things clean, but it also left things action-packed and exciting. The chapters appropriately grew shorter as the pacing grew. There were some things I found concerning and annoying, but not enough so to make me put it down.
That’s what being a writer takes: the ability to keep that book in my hands.
And as a writer who wishes to publish fantasy and sci-fi works of my own one day, I respect him as a writer, and can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel and other works he has.
4 out of 5 stars