The Hero Strikes Back by Moira J. Moore

The Hero Strikes Back
Moira J. Moore

This is the second book of this series. I reviewed the first book, Resenting the Hero here. Book two continues where book one left off – Dunleavy Mallorrough (Lee) and Shintaro Karish (Taro) are a Shield and her Source, who protect the populace from natural disasters. Taro senses these disasters and channels them away while Lee protects Taro and shields his body from the forces which would otherwise tear him apart. Paired together after years of training at an academy from an early age, they will have to work together for life. If one dies, so does the other.

After their last adventures, the Pair is back in the city of High Scape, normally a hotbed of disasters which the Pairs must avert. Now there are odd climate changes, but not disasters, and on top of that Lee is afraid for Taro because minor nobles have been disappearing. Again Lee is the narrator of this story so we see everything from her perspective. I get the feeling that although she's supposed to be an observant and quiet Shield, she misses a lot about other people and how they perceive her. After their rough beginning as a Pair, she and Taro have a closer relationship, with some moments where I thought both were being very oblivious about how deep the relationship really was.

So far this series is light fantasy – easy reading, not too taxing, but there is an underlying layer of more serious subjects. Unfortunately the books point out these underlying layers and then frustratingly nothing really gets resolved about them. In book one, it's pointed out how terribly some Shields (steadfast, dependable) are treated by their Sources (flightly, dramatic), but while Lee is shocked and dismayed by this, she doesn't act. In book two we learn of how both Sources and Shields are resented by the population for getting everything for free, and there seems to be a mistaken notion that they do hardly anything for it, but if the Pairs are doing their jobs, the normal population should never know what disasters they have avoided. The resentment by the population, which usually is far below the surface, is exacerbated by the odd climate changes – blizzards, snow in July followed by miserable rain and hot muggy days followed by snow again. For some reason, these don't count as disasters and Sources/Shields can't do anything about them (I thought this was odd but OK.. I guess I'll go with it). Meanwhile, from Lee and Taro's perspective – they had to sacrifice their whole lives for this job – they left their families at an early age, they can't earn any money so they can't give any heirs anything when they die, and their lives are on the line protecting the public, all while they are stuck with a partner they may not like, who might stupidly die and take them with him/her. When the unrest finally dies down, I didn't see any resolution to this problem of public misconceptions of Shields/Sources and the work they do. Is it another thing that Pairs are just supposed to deal with? And what about the odd climate changes? Theres a resolution, but there is more to it that I really hope gets addressed in subsequent books.

Oh the cover – again, don't know why it was made to look like this book could be humor, it isn't, but it shows Lee and Taro with probably Lee's mother, but maybe its Taro's. Both Lee's and Taro's mothers come to visit in this story. It was interesting to see more of where these two came from and how this may have colored their personalities, but this wasn't touched on as much as I expected with the cover. It was a smaller side story. We learn more about Taro's years before he got training at the academy and how that affects his personality now. We also see what Lee's mother thinks of how Lee was taken away at such and early age. There is a discussion there that again, Lee with her stoic personality just listens and says nothing even though we can see she's thinking plenty. Drives me nutty when she does that! I also think it drives the other characters nutty too.

Excerpt of chapter 1 here.

Basically – an ongoing series, that has a lot of things I'm interested in seeing resolved so I'm pretty much sucked into seeing what happens. I also like how flawed the characters are, even though they can drive me nuts (of course Lee) so that's sucking me in too. It looks like there is so far 6 books planned from Lee's POV, and then 2 more by another character (?? hmm wonder who. It's not Taro). There is a cover of book 3, Heroes Adrift, out on Moira Moore's website and I like it much better than the first two.

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