The Dark of the Moon (Chronicles of Lunos #1) by E.S. Bell

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ARC provided to me by author E.S. Bell in exchange for an honest review.

“A fool’s first and biggest weakness is thinking he doesn’t have one”

This book was such an unexpected joy! I went into this expecting pirates from the cover, but I also was blessed with paladins, merfolk, dragons, demons, gods, and more! And if you guys have been following my reviews for any length of time, you probably know that my favorite settings in books will always be taverns (be still, my The Name of the Wind heart), and this book completely delivered me so many shanty pirate town taverns! I really enjoyed this book, and I completely loved this world! The world of Lumos is now made up of many different islands, and the people that reside on those islands worship different gods.

The Dark of the Moon stars an Aluren Paladin named Selena Koren, who is also a very rare summoner. Even though she is the second most gifted Paladin this world knows, because of her summoning and healing abilities, she is constantly reminded of a grave mistake she made, while using her powers against the warring Zak’reth, one night. Selena worships the Two-Faced God, who has given her a crescent moon shaped hole in her chest that always causes her constant cold. Even though she has given her life to her god, she was still punished for that one night and now lives and fights in a constant dark place of loneliness.

“It takes more strength and will to be kind than it does to indulge in anger or hate.”

Her only friend is a Vai’Ensai named Ilior, who is a one-winged dragon-like humanoid, who can never go back to his homeland, Cloud Isles, because of his unfortunate wound, too. Selena and Ilior have been friends for ten years, and their friendship gives Selena the hope and strength to go on, but she is always hoping for a way to make her god heal her chest wound, so that she can know what warmth feels like again.

Selena gets an opportunity, in the form a very dangerous mission, to finally heal the hole that has made her feel empty for so long. Her mission is to kill two dark priests, who have risen in the Bazira faith. She is even told that she probably won’t survive this task, but nothing will keep her from healing her wound. All she needs is a pirate who will take her to the dark priests.

Sebastian Vass is a pirate who holds his secrets very close to his chest. So close, that his entire crew is unable to speak! Most of them not having tongues. Sebastian has been running away from a past that hunts him, when his family was brutally tortured and murdered. This dark event has turned him into one of the most deadly assassins this world knows, yet he is looking for one last job so that he can retire forever. And luckily for him, Bazira has recruited him to bring back the head of an Aluren Paladin named Selena.

“It only takes two acts of real fucking depravity to make a reputation.” Sebastian counted off on his thumb and forefinger. “The first to get everyone’s attention and the second to show you were serious the first time.”

These two character’s storylines quickly mingle, and secrets, betrayals, and mystery ensue! This book is one magical plot twist after magical plot twist, and I loved it completely.

Trigger warnings for graphic violence, torture, assault, attempted rape, and mention of rape.

E.S. Bell is a pen name of romance writer Emma Scott, and the romance bleeds into this fantasy story so very well. I was so impressed with this debut fantasy take, because it reads like perfection.

The only reason I’m giving this four stars is because the first couple chapters are a little slow, and you get a lot of information thrown at you very quickly. After that initial bump though, this story becomes an immersive and absolutely addictive read. I couldn’t put this down, and I need the next installment immediately.

It’s been so long since I’ve read a story that surrounded a paladin! Paladins are very close to my heart, thanks to World of Warcraft. I love how they are holy warriors, always trying to do what is right and lawful, yet still capable of retribution! I seriously am beyond words with happiness that this story is about a paladin, and I couldn’t not mention my joy in this review.

This book was amazing! The prose is lyrical, the settings are absolutely fantastic, the characters completely stole my heart, and the mystery of these gods had me completely enthralled. If you’re looking for a story filled with pirates, mythical creatures, wrath of gods, intrigue, and mystery, please pick up The Dark of the Moon. I think this series is going to be absolutely everything I look for in adult fantasy, and I can’t wait to read more!

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The quotes and map above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

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