Book Review Fantasy

Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire by Dan Hanks

Book Summary

In post-war 1952, the good guys are supposed to have won. But not everything is as it seems when ex-Spitfire pilot Captain Samantha Moxley is dragged into a fight against the shadowy US government agency she used to work for. Now, with former Nazis and otherworldly monsters on her trail, Captain Moxley is forced into protecting her archaeologist sister in a race to retrieve two ancient keys that will unlock the secrets of a long-lost empire—to ensure a civilisation-destroying weapon doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. But what will she have to sacrifice to save the world?

From the minute I saw the cover for Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire, I fell in love with it and knew I had to get my hands on a copy. Well, the cover conveyed everything this brilliant piece of escapist fun promised, and then some. A blisteringly fast-paced archaeological adventure populated with a number of dynamic characters, hell bent of either saving the world, or destroying it. In what is an imaginative and fresh take on a much loved trope.

This pulp-fiction fantasy is part Indiana Jones inspired, with a good measure of The Mummy movies thrown in for good measure, topped off with plenty of Tomb Raider action. You should know that from the get go, you are in for one hell of a roller coaster ride into the unknown. Chasing down legend and myth, along side a cracking character that had me cheering every time she punched the lights out of a Nazi bad guy! 

Captain Samantha Moxley is a take no nonsense hero that even when bloody nosed and bleeding, struggles on because she knows it’s the right thing to do. And when it’s about saving family? You never give up, and you never give in. Having fought in, and lived through the war, Sam has seen enough for one lifetime, but when recruited by a shadowy US Government Agency, sees more than her fair share of the weird, macabre, and down right scary other worldly creatures. 

And just when she thinks it’s time to hang up her gloves, she hears of a plot to kidnap her sister—a ruse possibly—to drag her back into the fray. And so, in battling monster in order to save her sister, once more gets dragged into the thick of the action. And finds herself, with her sister Jess, Jess’s archaeologist boyfriend, Will, chasing down fabled artefacts that will unlock a mythical and priceless treasure trove: the Hall of Records. 

This is everything you could wish for in a pulpy action-filled fantasy, great characters—like Agent Taylor (lots of great shading) and the scary otherworldly Agent Smith (shivers), Teddy, an old friend of Sam’s from the war and fellow fighter pilot. Who, along with Sam, does most of the sleuthing to solve the various puzzles and riddles they come up against during the hunt. 

Along with some really snappy dialogue, and crisp snarky banter between the feuding sisters, we are treated to a number of lighter moments that break up on the adrenaline pumping action. As Hanks show us he knows how to handle both character, dialogue, and pacing. Giving us well-balanced counter reasoning for Taylor’s motives and thus, showing us both sides of the argument to who is right. But is anyone every right? 

When it comes down to it, Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire, is pure adrenaline-fuelled escapist fun. And if you’ve watched any of the Mummy or Indiana Jones movies, you know exactly what kind of ride you’re in for. From puzzles to boobytraps in the labyrinthine depths below Paris, to the dead rising, to bus chases across the Egyptian desert, with guns blazing. To painful choices, sacrifice, bloody scrapes, and near-death escapes, you certainly won’t have time to catch your breath. Believe me, I didn’t.

With an ending that said there was more to come, I can’t wait to see what Dan Hanks come up with next for both Sam and maybe, Jess as well. 

CAPTAIN MOXLEY AND THE EMBERS OF THE EMPIRE
Dan Hanks
Angry Robot, 2020
Paperback, pages
Fantasy

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