Blue Moon Rising

This was a book that I couldn’t put down – one of the few that has kept me reading well into the wee hours of the morning. Simon R. Green manages to tell an epic adventure story while keeping enough of a wacky sense of humor throughout the whole thing that readers are chuckling along with the characters even in the darkest of moments.

The story starts out pretty humorously, turning a lot of faerie tale clichés on their heads, and laughing about it all the while. With sarcastic princes, smart-aleck unicorns, and a set of delightfully odd goblins, Green keeps the tone pretty light for several chapters – ala Princess Bride or The Enchanted Forest Chronicles. However, as the story takes off and dangers are introduced (as invariably happens in adventure stories), the book evolves from a semi-parody into a serious fantasy novel. The demons in the Darkwood are among the creepiest monsters I’ve encountered in the realm of the written word.

This is where Green truly shows his skill as a writer. He manages to maintain a serious storyline that keeps readers on the edges of their seats as the characters battle monsters, ferret out traitors, and deal with life-long rivalries – all without losing the light-hearted fun that pulled me into the book in the first place. Even as the characters march out to make their last stand, that sense of humor leaks out in small ways – none of which detract from the dire mood of the battle.

Like many books, this one has three to four storylines going on at once. All are crucial to the novel playing out, yet not all are equally interesting – I found myself skimming through one particular plot (the most political of the lot) pretty quickly. But that’s just me as a reader; I really don’t find extensive political maneuvering entertaining. If you enjoy that sort of thing, then, by all means, read away!

The part that grabbed me the most was how the main character grew and matured throughout the story. It was a visible change that made sense with the rest of the book, but it wasn’t sudden or forced – more a refining of existing qualities than anything else. Our prince starts out as a young man reluctantly (and, at times, petulantly) doing his duty. The sense of duty evolves into bravery and self-sacrifice, the petulance becomes sarcasm (which the recipient usually richly deserves), and he grows a spine in the end, which allows him to make the tough decisions instead of being maneuvered around by others. This kind of character development is a refreshing change from some of the sudden switches that pass for growth that I’ve had to read (the lone wolf who becomes a team player/leader overnight or the needy girl who decides to be strong and then instantly commands more respect, etc. – you know the type).

Overall, this is one of my favorite books. Whether it be through the fun bits or the scenes of pure desperation, the push-and-pull of hope and despair, or the sarcastic wit that weaves it all together, Simon R. Green has earned a permanent place on my bookshelf.

Blue Moon Rising
Copyright © Simon R. Green. 1991
First Roc trade-paperback printing, September 2005