Cover for Unfettered II taken from its Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Spoiler Free Summary:  The Red-Rimmed Eyes of Tou-Ma by Aidan Moher is the tenth story in the Unfettered II AnthologyA former mercenary is driven to get to his destination, but instead he’s hired by a woman with red-rimmed eyes. Her people are trapped, but that trap is much more than simple unfair treatment by a leader.  

Character:  The characters here are interesting. Their motivations are believable. They’re proactive, which is always a plus. I can’t say I really bonded with them, but they held my attention. 

Exposition: As with last week, this is probably why the story didn’t stick with me so well. The exposition here isn’t nearly as bad as it was last week, but there was far too much of it, and most of it was right up front. It sort of felt like having to get a brief history review before I could actually start the story.

Worldbuilding: This was pretty awesome! This world has a great balance of tech, magic, and creatures. It sort of felt like steampunk in a high fantasy setting, and that was cool! Also, some characters have little dragons (I forget what they’re called) that do some pretty cool stuff as well.  This story didn’t really hook me, but if there’s a larger book out there set in this world, I’d probably give it a shot.

This image was taken from the author’s “about” page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine. 

Dialogue: This was solid. Each character had a unique voice (helped by the narrator). But even some parts of the conversation that were honestly just spoken exposition, I at least had some sense of character from the conversations. 

Description: This was good in that I had the images in my mind going off and didn’t have to slow down to absorb the author’s vision of the scene. I wouldn’t say it’s the best I’ve ever read, but it was what I needed.

Overall: I really would be interested in seeing if there’s a larger story set in this world. What this particular story lacked in reader connection and exposition would probably be resolved by a longer format. If you’re a fan of mixed genre stories, you should at least give this story a chance. 

Thanks for reading



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