Review: The Caldarian Conflict

The Caldarian Conflict
The Caldarian Conflict by Mike Kalmbach

My rating: 5 of 5 stars excerpt
I don't believe in good and evil. There be what a man can do and what he must do. - Owen, condemned to hang
(According to Murdoch Mysteries, a proper hanging should break the neck, not choke. City TV brought back Murdoch Mysteries with Jennings as consultant. Hoorah. He's prospecting in Dawson City Klondike, and the beautiful (love those dresses) friendly hotel manager is arrested for pick-ax bludgeoning a competitor. Check out the web-series in my beloved much-missed City of T.O.

Brother Mendell serves the Lord Justice god, also calling on Lady Mercy and Luck, goddesses of healing and chance, to investigate how Admiral Cain combats piracy unethically (without lecturing us). Whoever knows too much, dies, even the whole monastery is at risk. Limbs and bodies are lost. Language is crisp and clean. Fights balance mystery.

Points of view - life-value-ing pirate captain(-ess?), evil Admiral, still-learning monk, doomed informant, deceptive assassin - skip seamlessly, including ye be me hearty dialect, in a magic medieval land. Starting with quick deaths, pages flow fast. Suspense builds. Devices I normally eschew for interrupts - gods advise and aid, amulets and spirits speak to reveal murder - snowball the action. Ships explode, founder, rogue waves capsize crews. Break your signed oath? Magic severs your sword hand. Mostly men, yet strong women.

"Hesitation can kill as easily as a sword." - Sarka, nun worshipper of Lord Battle
The secret manipulator behind all is only disclosed in the final page of the epilogue; 265 pages satisfies and whets our appetites for more. Many of the stories started here beg to be expanded.

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