Heroes at Risk by Moira J. Moore

Heroes at Risk
Moira J. Moore

Slowly going through the review backlog, whoohoo! 🙂 As with the last book, I bought this one.The Hero series so far:
Book 1: Resenting the Hero (livejournal | wordpress)
Book 2: The Hero Strikes Back (livejournal | wordpress)
Book 3: Heroes Adrift (livejournal | wordpress)Excerpt of Heroes at Risk (it’s the only one I could find)

****** mild spoilers for the rest of the series, go read my earlier reviews if you aren’t up to this book yet *****

The Premise:
This is the fourth book in the Heroes series. Shield Dunleavy (Lee) Mallorough and Source Shintaro (Taro) Karesh are back on the mainland (they henceforth only refer to Flatwell as “that damned island”) and have to face their old life and friends again, which leads to some awkward situations because their relationship is not really clear. Meanwhile High Scape has gone from being a hotbed of disaster to a cold spot, but the people of High Scape have taken to a new trend – dabbling in magic. Some particularly misguided citizens are murdering “lucky” people so they can use their ashes for these spells. Of course, Lee’s first thought is that her handsome partner is prime pickings for another kidnapping.

My Thoughts: This was a good one. I don’t know what it is, but I love to analyze these characters, especially Lee, and we get a lot of fodder for discussion when Lee as usual gets everything all wrong by assuming things in her own blind way. Oh god do I want to shake this woman! Of course, if she was the type of person who was better at reading people (or even as half as good as she thinks she is), I don’t think this series would be as fun. As people have commented on my earlier review, she’s the ultimate unreliable narrator.  I was amused that in this book Lee’s faults such as this one, are pointed out to her face, much to her irritation. I agreed with Lee that it was rude, but I think she should listen to some of these criticisms sometimes.

The primary relationship I love to observe is of course Lee and Taro’s.  I’m going to point at Angie’s review where she said it perfectly with “it’s always a treat to watch them circle each other once more, to attempt to navigate the treacherous waters that lay between their opposing natures and meet somewhere in the middle”. After the events of the last book where the Pair reach a new plateau in their relationship, some may think that everything is settled, but this is Lee we’re talking about. She as usual makes her assumptions about Taro and when they’re back in High Scape, she bases her actions on these assumptions. It’s a little telling how Lee shields herself from grief by doing things like this, but she’s emotionally inexperienced. Taro’s reaction to this is so Taro as well – he gets emotional, but his reaction seems to bounce harmlessly off Lee’s Impervious Wall of Logical Assumption. Watching things come to a head was one of the reasons why I love this series.

While I’m obsessed with gleaning meaning from every interaction between Taro and Lee, the story is really not primarily focused on their relationship. Lee spends a lot of time in the city trying to learn about the new trend in dabbling with magic. She questions why it’s considered illegal if it is supposed to be all fake anyway, and her discoveries raise some interesting questions about whether magic is real and what it means for Sources and Shields. This intersects with some of the other odd discoveries that she and Taro have made over the past few books regarding their powers and their world. I’m not sure where the author is going to take this, but I sense she has a plan, and I’m really curious to see how it all comes together. Moore introduces a new group of people in High Scape who seem to know a lot about magic and hold a lot of power, and meanwhile there has been a shift in rulers which suggests that their world is on the cusp of change. I think I’d be most happy to see some sort of change in the expectations that are put on Sources and Shields. Throughout the series, there have been questions about how Things Are Done regarding for example, the role of the Triple S in politics, if Sources and Shields are allowed to have a relationship, and whether it’s fair that Sources and Shields never have to pay for anything or never get paid.

A not on the cover: I love the colors and I like how Lee looks, but this is not what Taro looks like in my head. He doesn’t look good to me here.

Overall: Possibly my favorite book in this light fantasy series so far. I’m loving Lee and Taro’s relationship, and the way the series is unfolding has me very interested in where it’s all going.

Buy: Amazon | Powells

Other reviews (all good!):
Angieville – A lovely review. She writes what I want to say but better!
The Book Smugglers – Thea gave it a 7
See Michelle Read – also a positive review

Interview with Moira J. Moore at Angieville

Heroes Adrift by Moira J. Moore

Heroes Adrift
Moira J. Moore

This is (for some reason) one book I read last year but didn’t review. I just read Heroes at Risk and wanted to review it, but it felt like I was skipping this book, so here goes: a review from my memory to fulfill my OCD completest tendencies. This is another series I’m addicted to where you have to get used to the heroine (and narrator) to enjoy it. She can be really obtuse about herself while simultaneously making observations about other people. Check out my reviews of book 1 and 2 if you’re interested in trying it out.The Hero series until now:
Book 1: Resenting the Hero (livejournal | wordpress)
Book 2: The Hero Strikes Back (livejournal | wordpress)

The Premise: This is the third book in the Heroes series which is about a Shield and Source Pair who protect the populace from natural disasters by channeling them away. Dunleavy Mallorough (Lee) and Shintaro Karish (Taro) have been mysteriously called to court in Erstwhile by the Empress. Lee doesn’t like it, and soon she’s proved correct for this reaction because the queen tasks the Pair to find one of her heirs, who was hidden away on Flatwell, one of the Southern Islands. Lee and Taro go there, only to discover that Flatwell doesn’t recognize Pairs the same way that the mainland does. This means Lee and Taro have to actually earn their own money while trying to find this lost relative!

Excerpt of Heroes Adrift

******** possible mild spoilers of the earlier books from this point ********

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this one, probably because when push come to shove, Lee and Taro really worked together in this book. They’re both miserable, and only have each other. It’s hard, particularly for Taro, because Flatwell people see him as plain and useless, not as vibrant and beautiful as he was always seen in the mainland (and in other books). The role reversal was amusing, and Lee becomes the stronger, more admired part of the Pair, much to her and Taro’s astonishment. Meanwhile, poor Taro begins to question his usefulness, because in Flatwell, his skills as a Source and his pretty manners are seen as unmarketable. Only stubborn Lee continues to see him as he was seen on the mainland, which says a lot about their relationship.

This book was a little bit of a breather for me in terms of getting annoyed at Lee. I think that Lee has a habit of not speaking her thoughts out to people (because Shields are supposed to be stony), and just letting them talk, which leads to misunderstandings. I often think “Why don’t you SAY that!”, but no, she doesn’t, she assumes they should logically realize what she’s thinking and then she’s surprised when they come to their own decision, because of their “talk”.  Thankfully, in Flatwell, the people are a bit different from the mainland–they’re less interested in what Taro and Lee are up to, and so Lee doesn’t get into those situations so much. The focus is much more on just the two of them, and the results are delightful.

You could say this is sort of a transitional book, but I think the mission this Pair is on may have repercussions later on in the series. I feel like Moore is very subtly putting it into the readers heads through Lee that there’s beginning to be a shift in the political climate in this world. There’s also a lot of questions about if things being done the way they are now are the right way to do things, particularly in regards to Sources and Shields.

Also: This may be my favorite cover for this series so far.

Overall: A really interesting installment where Lee and Taro’s roles get a little twist and there are some juicy developments in their relationship.

Buy: Amazon | Powells

Other reviews:
Angieville a positive review
The Book Smugglers – 7-Very good

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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Resenting the Hero by Moira J. Moore

Resenting the Hero
Moira J. Moore

This is a a light fantasy set in a world that does not let technology thrive. It  was populated by colonists who have evolved certain powers to protect themselves from the world's natural forces. Sources can channel the energy from natural disasters (floods, tornados..) harmlessly away, but to do so they often die unless they have a Shield – someone to watch and regulate their body (heartrate, breathing) while they channel. Sources and Shields pair up in a bonding ritual which makes them paired for life – no matter if they have complementary personalities or not. Shields are typically stoic people while Sources are considered emotional and flightly.

The voice of the narrator is Dunleavy Mallorough (Lee), who is a Shield. She prayed for a steady Source, but got paired up with one of the most famous up-and-comers at the academy (Shintaro Karish). Pay attention to the title, that's what this a lot of this book is about! Although she says she found his much gossiped about antics amusing when she wasn't paired, she isn't pleased when they are. They have a rough start because of her preconceptions that Karish will pull her into some kind of trouble because of his "obvious" rakishness. Also, because Karish is the darling of the academy, they are soon sent to the most active post in the country, where Lee is just waiting for Karish to mess up and doom them both (Pairs are punished together). I think that some readers will find Lee's judgemental attitude annoying, and she holds onto it for much of the book, but I think she is a stubborn person who takes a long time to change her mind. I felt that taking so long to warm up to someone is something that happens every so often, especially if you have a stubborn, somewhat naive personality like Lee's, and I could believe the slow progress they make. Also I believe because he is her Source, not someone else's, she is even more hard on him because of the huge impact he has on her life. They can't be separated, and if one dies, so does the other. The writing in the book is good, the adventure interesting (some thought-provoking ideas on Shields and Sources which I hope get continued in following books), but it is definitely a series. Book 2 is "The Hero Strikes Back", I believe book 3, "Heroes Adrift", comes out in 2008, and book 4 is being written by the author. Fast reading and there is an underlying feeling that the two main characters are eventually going to get together although the author isn't going to let that happen until the very end of the series, which may drive some people insane (see pet peeves. I am on the fence about if this is going to bug me since it's only book one, and I think there are other love interests in there).

The one thing that kind of bugged me in the book was this – when Lee talked to someone heart to heart, she doesn't say much. She thinks a lot which the reader sees, but doesn't say this to whoever she's speaking with and gives short answers. She just doesn't say what she's really thinking! Drives me a little nutty.

Another thing: The cover makes it look very much like a comedy, and it isn't. I'm not sure why they decided to market it that way. It's written in a straight tone.

General Feeling: 7.5/8 (Liked it quite a bit, could get good), Plot: 7 (Liked it, plus it had something, so I give extra)Writing Style: 6 (Liked it)

An Excerpt (first few pages of the book)

Here is a review of this book at sfreviews.net (maybe goes into too much detail about what the plot is).

Here is one that seems like a similar opinion to mine.

Here is a review from Dear Author (who HATED the book). I thought the inconsistencies she pointed out weren't really inconsistencies if you read the book carefully.

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