Beyond the Blue Moon

January 5th, 2006

When I saw this for the first time, I was quite excited. It’s a sequel to the more-or-less excellent Blue Moon Rising, published in 1991, one of the best fantasy novels I found in my high school years. Compelling, humorous, and exciting, it’s got everything a modern fantasy novel needs, including a healthy dose of (sometimes self-deprecatory) snark. I found Beyond… alongside two Hawk & Fisher omnibus novels, which I’d vaguely heard of but never picked up. I figured I’d grab those, then come back for Beyond… once I’d familiarized myself with the backstory of its protagonists, Hawk & Fisher. Big mistake, on two levels. Namely, the Hawk & Fisher stories were largely drek…mediocre cop drama set in a blandly nasty fantasy city-state. Secondly, the book was gone next time I went in, and another copy didn’t appear for almost a year. Unfortunately, I have to report that Beyond the Blue Moon is more Hawk and Fisher than it is Blue Moon Rising. Opening in Haven (the aforementioned poor-man’s-Ankh-Morpork city-state), Hawk & Fisher solve a couple of brief and stupid mysteries before they leave their jobs and go on a vigilante rampage. In the company of the son of one of BMR’s secondary characters, they make their way back to the Forest Kingdom, where the King’s been mysteriously murdered, the political situation is extremely shaky, and there are ominous signs that an ancient evil is stirring. We do get to revisit some of BMR’s more interesting characters, but the anachronistic tone Green developed in the Hawk & Fisher stories is even more grating when applied to this (previously) familiar territory. The identity of the King’s killer (the putative reason for Hawk & Fisher’s return to the Forest Kingdom in the first place) is almost instantly and annoyingly obvious, making the book’s supposedly observant, intelligent, and powerful characters seem like fools. The dramatic and magical climax is pretty far from innovative…not quite Sword of Shannara level trite obviousness, but not what I’d expect as a followup to BMR. There are some High Points to be had…like the Walking Man, the personification of God’s Justice on Earth. He’s a vicious, badass character…right up until he renounces his powers for Love, or whatever. The blushing, beautiful, pink-loving witch is pretty consistently amusing, also. Overall, though, I kind of wish I’d never picked this book up…I was much happier with the ending of Blue Moon Rising. Overall, not recommended, unless you’re a compulsive completist.

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