The Culling (The Beast of Maug Maurai #1)

The Culling (The Beast of Maug Maurai #1)

Write on: Thu, 23 Aug 2018 by  in SPFBO 2018 5710 comments Read 121250

The Beast of Maug Maurai – Part One: The Culling is a story from two perspectives. The first is Black Murrogar, an ageing hero tasked with escorting a Duke's household through the feared forest of Maug Maurai. There's a beast known to haunt the forest, a fabled creature that no one has ever survived encountering. So it should come as no surprise that the expedition is ambushed. Murrogar must get as many as he can to safety, all while fending off attacks from the savage beast.

The other perspective is of Grae Barragns, an ageing hero tasked with forming a suicide squad to enter the forest and slay the beast. It's not readily apparent but there is a time discrepancy between the two perspectives. For narrative purposes they run parallel to each other, but Grae is only sent into the forest after Murrogar's expedition is ambushed... apparently. It's not really explained at all.

There's a lot to like about the book. The concept is a good one that you don't see very often these days. There's a beast to slay and Grae needs to form a super group to do it. The people he picks up along the way are the rejects and miscreants of the land, those who won't be missed. Grae's story reads quite a lot like a fantasy Suicide Squad.

The book is well-written with only a handful of grammatical mistakes and misspelled words, and the prose flows smoothly with some great phrases scattered here and there. But it doesn't do anything really original. The two main characters, Murrogar and Grae, seem so similar as to be interchangeable. Both are soldiers of great renown with both heroic and questionable deeds to their names, and both are gruff, no nonsense lads. The biggest difference between the two is that Murrogar is brutal as all hells. Don't slow him down or fall behind!

The world building leaves a lot to be desired. We hear about a few other kingdoms, know that there is some sort of magic in the world, and have the odd vague reference to some history, but that's about it. It's all about the forest and the beast... except for when it isn't. Grae spends most of his time wandering about looking for his team.

I have to point out right now that the book is not formatted for kindle. Dialogue was framed by hyphens and another grammatical mark I don't even recognise. Lines often ended abruptly, only to be continued on a new paragraph. It made the book quite difficult to read at times.

And the biggest problem I found is that this is not a full book. The copy I was given ends at the point where Grae forms his squad and steps into the forest. Murrogar's expedition is similarly left at an entirely unsatisfying point that isn't so much a cliffhanger, as it is a lull in the action. I have checked on Goodreads and it appears the Culling is simply the first part of a novel that is three parts long. So the book has been split into three parts and each is sold separately. If the full novel had been provided I might have felt a bit more satisfied by this one, though the formatting would have put me off reading a longer novel.

Last modified on Thursday, 23 August 2018 18:25
Rob J. Hayes

Rob J. Hayes has been a student, a banker, a marine research assistant, a chef, and a keyboard monkey more times than he cares to count. But eventually his love of fantasy and reading drew him to the life of a writer. He’s the author of the Amazon Best Selling The Heresy Within, the piratical swashbuckler Where Loyalties Lie, and the steampunk heist caper It Takes a Thief to Catch a Sunrise.


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