Let me start by saying that Caomhnóir was a very well-researched book. The facts and placement for some of the major wars in history (Vietnam, Korea, WWII) showed quite a bit of attention to detail and a determination to get it right. Brilliant, in that regard.
The level of detail given to the backdrops was wonderful; very descriptive of the setting. The jungles of Vietnam and the war-torn streets during WWII really allowed me to envision things as they were happening. There weren’t a whole lot of metaphors or similes running rampant, but that really worked for the tone and style of this tale. I felt as though it was being told through the eyes of a tired war-vet, who had seen enough of battle, but needed to get this story out. It provided an excellent emotional setting for the read.
Plot-wise, Caomhnóir had a very interesting take on the classic good vs. evil story. Ancient warriors, chosen throughout time to stand up to the evil incarnate known as Puck. Caomhnóir took that classic tale, and gave it a very modern, gritty setting instead of spinning tales of swordsmen and princesses and the like. That made it enjoyable right off the bat.
I did have a few problems with timelines and the way the chapters jumped around. The first few chapters were labeled to give you a sense of where you were in time (i.e Germany, 1945 as a subheader for the first chapter), but after that it completely disappears and when the chapters jump, sometimes you have to go back and make sure that you didn’t miss anything because it happens so suddenly. Occasionally I got a little lost in the timeline because the chapter would start with different characters and bring the main ones in later.
As for the characters, most of them felt a little flat and static. The only character development I really discerned were from Branch and Nance (referring to being children and pushing away their destiny versus growing up and embracing it). Everyone talked the same, and only a few of them had character-defining tics (like Farrell’s physical twitching). A few phrases used in describing what the characters were doing/feeling became heavily overused: how they light their cigarettes, “eyes revealed,” and the emotions were told to me, rather than shown (“…eyes revealed his confusion,”…”eyes revealed his anger”).
The ending was rather anti-climactic (Branch rallies despite a grievous head injury?), and left a few questions in its wake: what happens to the balance of good and evil now that Puck is vanquished? What happens to the Caomhnóir order now that they’re not needed? Does evil choose another champion? I wouldn’t mind if these questions were asked in a sequel, which I would be very keen to read.
Overall, Caomhnóir was a very enjoyable novel to read. I tore through it quickly because I was eager to find out what happened to Branch and his company. If you’re looking for a different spin on a classic tale, then Caomhnóir is the book for you!
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