Tor, Dec 2003, 27.95, 496 pp.
Led by Captain Ferran, the bizarre crew of the Shadowmoon seems like weird cargo handlers sailing the seas. Though they actually trade the goods kept in the hold of their schooner, the mission of the Shadowmoon is to sail the ports of the continent Torea seeking information as the crew serves as an undercover espionage unit.
The orb changes for Ferran and friends when they see the horrifying total annihilation of Torea. Apparently the Emperor Warsovran became impatient with the siege of Larmentel. He obviously found the long buried Silverdeath, an awesome weapon of mass destruction interred centuries ago out of fear of its misuse. He used the weapon leaving only the off shore crew of the Ferran alive as eyewitnesses to total death. The planet's aristocracy clamber to take advantage of the void with several of them wanting possession of Silverdeath already in the hands of a genocide megalomaniac. Only the fearless crew of this seemingly minnow of a vessel stand in the way of some lunatic unleashing the final wave of annihilation.
VOYAGE OF THE SHADOWMOON is simply great, as readers will obtain one of the top epic fantasy tales of 2002 in time for the holidays. Even with vampires and sorcery, the world seems so real before and after the destruction of Torea. The large key cast members are easily distinguishable between them because each one is fully developed yet done within the context of the action-packed story line. The fantasy realm has a winner with science fiction guru (see the Greatwinter trilogy) Sean McMullen who unbelievably makes the impossible seem authentic.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner