Friday, December 26, 2008

The Vast White-Jason Walters

The Vast White
Jason Walters
Blackwyrm, Jan 1 2009, $11.95
ISBN: 9780982006702

In Northern al-Muttaqiina Mountains bordering on the Vast White in the Year of Ascension 327, the Sultanate and the Etrisian Empire prepare for war over who annexes the Spice Cities into their monarchy. Both sides covet Salt, the unconquered Spice City that neither has been able to bring under their rule. The winner of this battle will invade the city that has never been occupied by outsiders.

Padisha the Sultan has his army of Bedune units growing; each new arrival comes with his camel herd to show off his worth. On the other side of the upcoming battle is the Etrisian forces led by Horsehead the terror wizard who recently destroyed the Spice city Saffron. Murdering mercenary Highdome, leader of the Red Regiment of killers, mutants and monsters, observes his leader Horsehead patiently waiting as if he wants more of his enemy in his way.

Both sides release new magics to totally annihilate their opposition. Neither considered the consequences of sorcery on the edge of the Vast White. Both sides soon find monster issues as the suddenly awakening Vast White ignites in retaliation. Horsehead and his Red Regiment struggle to survive the raging expanding desert with no hope except perhaps unleashing the uncontrollable Murderer’s Edge force not knowing the subsequent consequences, if they can even perform this seemly impossible task, may prove worse than the raging assault of the awakened Vast White.

Part of the fascination with this exciting military fantasy is there is no hint of a concept of good and bad warring. Instead survival not necessarily of the fittest is what the war turns into. The Red Regiment is an intriguing group as murdering misfits must band together whether they are monsters, mutants or mortals if they want to stay alive once the Vast White begins its “cleansing” of the Sultanate and Etrisian forces. Narrated by roguish Highdome, the audience mostly obtains his viewpoint of what is going wrong. Fans will enjoy this entertaining tale though the print copy contains a very small font size that detracts from the enjoyment.

Harriet Klausner

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