Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Magick by Moonrise by Laura Navarre


A mission of life or death:

Rhiannon le Fay has been charged by her mother with an important mission: to deliver a peace treaty to Mary I, Queen of England. From the moment Rhiannon and her party stepped through the Veil that separated her world from the mortal world, they encounter danger at every turn -- and their numbers have dwindled down to three. With the Convergence drawing near, she has no choice but to press forward for the fate of both worlds hang in the balance.

Beltran Nemesto, a Blade of God, was sent from Rome to assist the English in their crusade to purify the lands of all that threaten Christianity. En route to London, he encounters Rhiannon, who tells him of her mission. As an emissary of God, Beltran is torn between protecting and defending Rhiannon and protecting and defending his Catholic Faith.

So Beltran had always believed -- that black was black and white was white, like the stark pattern of her gown. ... His own grim duty was to render Rome's judgment, and nothing she said now could prevent it.
- pp. 258-259

As they wade through the treacherous waters of Tudor England, Rhiannon and Beltran discover an attraction so powerful, yet so forbidden that it tests the limits of both their faiths.

This novel incorporates Arthurian Lore, Faerie Legend, Angels and the history of Mary I and Elizabeth I -- one would think this mix would result in a hodge-podge of a story but, no, Laura Navarre's Magick by Moonrise has got to be one of the most intelligent, most focused, most absorbing stories to be published this year.

The author weaves each element intricately into the story of Rhiannon and Beltran and presents a very clear narrative structure, which takes you through a well-paced exposition and rising action before providing a breathtaking resolution to their story.

Central to this story is the question of belief and what we are willing to sacrifice for that belief. Rhiannon and Beltran both hold firm to their individual faiths: Rhiannon in her mother, Queen Maeve and the world of faerie and Beltran in the Inquisition and the Blades of God. And each is standing in the way of the other: Rhiannon needs to have Queen Mary sign the treaty but the Queen requires Beltran's assent and support of Rhiannon -- and Beltran has been promised the highest rank in his order but it comes at a cost: surrender Rhiannon to Bloody Bonner and have her tried as a witch.

What was it worth to him, that emblem of militant Christianity? Enough to see her burn for it?
- p. 321

I thought it was apt that Navarre set her story in the Tudor Period: a period of England's history when one was defined completely by which doctrine they followed. The question of one's loyalty would make or unmake one's future, whether they chose to follow Mary I or Elizabeth.

What is painful for Rhiannon and Beltran is that what keeps them apart isn't a matter of politics or whim: but blood and belief. It is not an easy thing for them to cast off a lifetime of being something just to accommodate each other.

"Let us have a moment's peace. For once, let's not talk about my God or your Faeries."

"In that case, I suppose we must be silent." Fiercely she blinked back the tears.
- p. 324

This is a story that shows development and growth. Like building blocks, each chapter contributes to the journey our hero and heroine take: moving forward, there is a deconstruction of their former selves and a reconstruction of a new one. When the story ends, Rhiannon and Beltran have undergone a profoundly personal transformation.

The beauty of Magick by Moonrise is that it works very well as historical fiction and just as wonderfully as historical romance -- but Laura Navarre decided to up the ante and created this incredible world that appeals to all of one's senses. It is immersive and enchanting in its beauty and menace.

Beltran has a keen nose for sniffing out mischief, and the odor of treason tainted these halls like a miasma. Perhaps that explained why the great hall stood abandoned, only a handful of whispering courtiers clustered anxiously beneath the coffered ceiling, huddled for warmth before the roaring fire.

Protestants all, no doubt -- and likely to find themselves much closer to those flames than is healthy for them ...
- p. 130

Magick by Moonrise is Book 1 in Laura Navarre's new series: The Magick Trilogy. It's a fantastic start and I look forward to the next installment. To find out more about Laura Navarre and her books (trust me, when you finish reading this, you will end up googling her like I did), visit her website. She's also on Facebook and on Goodreads.


**A note about my page references: my review copy runs to page 587 because of the format. The book itself is listed as only 228 pages long. Apologies for the confusion this will cause.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by Lit Connect. Thank you to Lit Connect and to Carina Press for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.


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