LitStaff Pick: Our Favorite Military Stories

The Sundering duology
Jacqueline Carey

I tend not to gravitate towards books about the theater of war (even if many of the books I have read integrate fighting and combat as a vital part of their action).  But when an author can take warfare and, while not shifting away from the brutality of battle, give it an unique spin while maintaining a sense of the horror and honor that encompasses the worst and the best of war, then that is indeed a worthy read.

In Banewrecker and Godslayer, Jacqueline Carey takes a Tolkienesque conflict filled with epic enmities and cataclysmic ramifications for an entire world and turns it on its ear – not through the style of action, not through a dearth of heroic characters, nor a lack in the depth of feeling and motivation behind the conflict (for the duology excels in all these), but because you are constantly being challenged with your expectation of what is good and what is evil.  It is obvious what, by convention, you should think – one side is light and beautiful and fighting to defend its honor, and the other side is dark and violent and vengeful.    But under Carey’s deft touch and exquisite narrative, betrayal, treachery and redemption become more than rote concepts, and the all encompassing conflict – both universal and personal – is challenging, complex, and rendered in luxurious, tortured, epic prose.  And this is good – war should never be simple.

 -Sharon Browning

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