Everything went to hell in the first week.
After four years on the road, Sharla was looking forward to settling down and trying her hand at a steadier occupation. When Claws raid her town and take her lover, Renn, she knows it's time for action. She's tired of running. Now, she'll take a stand.
do this, she'll have to follow the Claws across the tablelands. This is a land of bandits, mages, and monsters. If she wants to travel this country and rescue Renn, she'll need help. An army of Watchmen would be nice. Maybe even a drug cartel.
However, she also knows it's best to keep things small. The more allies she has, the more she risks a future knife between the ribs.
After all, this is Low Country.
"I just wanted to start over. But there’s no fresh start in Low Country. No new beginnings.” “Only demons to burn,” Arlon said quietly. “Yes.” Sharla looked him in the eye. “That’s right.”
A Low Country is the initial book in the fantasy western series, Low Country Trilogy, written by Morgan Shanks, one of the SPFBO9 participants. And not going to lie, this book was mostly a cover pick, and I'm glad to say that the content is at the same level; I found myself having great fun while reading the adventures of those characters in a Western setting, full of action and surprises.
Sharla only wanted to start from zero and set in a place after four years on the road; but when the Claw raids her town and kidnaps her lover, Renn, she decides it's time to take a stand and stop running.
But rescuing Renn is not going to be an easy task, as she will have to pursue the Claws across the land; she needs a crew, hiremen that she can only pay using money she decided to not touch. Once she gets a group of skilled outlaws, all it's ready for the mission. If this task was almost impossible, you need to add that the Watchmen are prosecuting the same groups of Claw when they find out about Sharla. And their leader, Coronel, has something in the past with her.
Her captor drew his own axe and stepped forward. Too close to dodge him, she merely angled away, jumping beside him, and the axe struck at the rope she’d tangled herself in. It bit through and missed her skin, a narrow dodge that left her whooping in celebration, adrenaline.
With this premise, we have a fun adventure, which mixes half the classic tropes of the Western genre (such as the setting, the group of outlaws, and the native antagonists), mixed with other elements that I found personally really interesting, such as the drug cartels as the way to control the land (which add a layer of politics that is certainly compelling) and some from the fantasy subgenre, such as the magical creatures and the rune-borns (mages who born with a limited number of spells in their blood). I would call the setting a low fantasy one, because it is true that the magical elements are relatively scarce.
Pacing is in an excellent spot, and the writing of Shank, despite not being the most elaborate one, does an excellent job of driving the adventure towards a good port; action scenes are well written, and clear, but with a sense of tension implied.
Yes, Low Country: the stretch of land that encompassed the Owl’s groin, where none but bandits, Claws, or the destitute wandered. The Owl—the watchful symbol of Benania—always roused itself when High Country suffered invasion. But now, probably because of the newer and more exciting opportunities to the north, the Owl’s attention lapsed from Low Country. Therefore, Low Country had crumbled to pieces. No, worse than pieces. Nothing but blood and dust and tumbleweed.
Personally, if I don't find this book a five-star read is due to how the characters are done. I feel they are underdeveloped, mostly as a consequence of the short length of the book; outside of Sharla and the Coronel, I would say the rest are mostly archetypical, they fulfill a role but lack some characteristics that would have made them more complete.
Said that, A Low Country is a great novel, perfect for those that are looking for reading something closer to a Western film. I enjoyed greatly while reading it, and honestly, I want to read the sequel as soon as possible.
In middle school, I finally broke away from incoherent clumps of algebra to fill a composition notebook with my first handwritten novel. Since then, I've imagined my own Skyrim rather than fumble through objective studies.
For reasons unknown to anyone, I somehow found my way into a trucking gig, and I now enjoy a day job hauling freight. When I'm not trucking or writing, I spend my time dabbling in landscape photography, running Spartan Races, and staring at the mountains that surround my hometown of Harrisonburg, VA, which provide ample inspiration for my fantasy novels.