Moroda is L.L. McNeil's self published, High Fantasy debut following a ragtag group of adventurers on a mission to change the tide of a racially charged war before it consumes lasting peace Linaria has come to know.
The standout element of this book for me is the writing style. McNeil has a lot of raw talent as a writer & I find myself incredibly engaged with how she chose to tell the story of Moroda. I especially enjoy the action & combat sequences, as I am clearly able to imagine what is happening.
Another high point of this novel is the ensemble of characters - each of the major races involved in the war are represented in the main cast & I really appreciate having the opportunity to form a relationship with them outside the context of their part in the overarching conflict.
Plus, I'm almost always a sucker for mixed bag group of people from a variety of different backgrounds coming together under the threat of necessity. I swear, it's like the magical school trope for me. Princes & peasants, thieves & businessmen, aristocracy & guards. It creates an array of interactions that make me feel warm & fuzzy inside.
Like, do I need to say more??
The lore of the dragons in the world of Linaria has me intrigued. Dragons are considered equivalent to gods for many races on this continent, and harness powers through the dragon stones in their bodies which also serves as their life source. The dragons are a factor of complexity for the plot, presenting as morally ambiguous toward our heroes & their quest.
Despite the elements I fancied, I have to say I wanted a little bit more from this story.
There were a couple moments where I felt as though I was seeing a sketch with some missing details.
In particular, I would've loved a bit more of a focus on the world building aspect. Linaria is packed full of interesting races & magic, but I don't feel as though I thoroughly comprehend the layout of the world. Motivations are hinted at but not always explained to my satisfaction.
My other criticism for this novel is that the main characters were not evenly characterized. I got a detailed picture of Moroda because the story is mostly told with her perspective in mind, and Palom & Amarah made a solid impression on me, but I didn't feel myself connecting as much to Sapora, Anahrik, Eryn, or Morgen. Especially with Eryn, as Moroda's younger sister, she felt like an extension of Moroda instead of being her own person.
With some characters it was more "tell" than "show" & at times the dialogue didn't quite differentiate enough between characters.
Overall though, this is a great debut & I'm interested to see where the story will go from here.
McNeil isn't afraid to tell the story she wants to tell & in a sea of books with shoehorned romances & unrealistic survivals, it was refreshing to read a book like this one!
***I received a copy of Moroda from the author in exchange for an honest review. Special thank you to L.L. McNeil for this opportunity.***