‘In the Shadow of a Valiant Moon’ Reminds Us of Man’s Indomitable Will to Survive [REVIEW]

Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington's IN THE SHADOW OF A VALIANT MOON
Destiny has no allegiance. (Artwork courtesy Vesuvian Books)

She’s an unassuming yet wily leader determined to protect her people. He’s a captive trapped by a parasitic villain bent on destruction. Will either of them survive long enough to save what’s left of mankind from a scheming creature on a sadistic rampage? Find out in the dazzling second installment of Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington’s brilliant and highly imaginative sci-fi epic that began with It Takes Death to Reach a Star.

Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington's IN THE SHADOW OF A VALIANT MOON
Vesuvian Books

In 2255, Earth isn’t what it used to be. As the New Black Death continues its spread, the world is steeped in darkness. The planet’s last city, Etyom, is rife with violence and plagued by a caste system that divides mankind into three distinct categories: Robusts (non-engineered humans), Rippers (demented criminal Robusts who roam the Vapid), and Graciles (genetically engineered humans once considered to be at the top of the food chain.)

Yet since the elevated lillipads fell four years ago, the Graciles seem to have vanished and the Robusts are doing what they can to stay alive and avoid the dangerous Rippers. Demitri, the courageous Gracile we met in book one of the series, still lives, but barely. The vile Vedmak dominates his psyche and rules his body during every waking moment, using Demitri’s body the way a puppeteer manipulates a marionette. Nevertheless, remnants of the Gracile still linger in the fringes of his brain, striving to find a way to vanquish Vedmak once and for all.

Mila, on the other hand, our Robust heroine with nerves of steel and a broken heart, bravely trudges on, determined to ward off the zealots determined to destroy what is left of the city. It may not be much, but it is oddly still home to her. Yet even as she braces herself for one battle after another, she vigilantly searches for Faruq, who went missing in battle four years ago. In her heart of hearts, she knows he is still alive, but her quest to find him could put everyone else at risk.

In the Shadow of a Valiant Moon is an immersive read that will undoubtedly please fans of both science fiction sagas like Star Wars and Dune as well as all those who have enthusiastically consumed post-apocalyptic tales like Divergent and The Hunger Games. Somehow, Jones and Worthington have stitched together the best elements of all these acclaimed series into one dark, dangerous world where no one can be trusted, and hope is a rare commodity that can keep an individual alive, even as it threatens their very existence.

I’m typically not one to readily dive into science fiction, and yet this futuristic world the authors immerse us in is so realistically defined that I can’t help but lose myself in its shadows as the plot unfolds. Part of the draw here is that the characters always maintain their humanity, at least partly, whether they are Robust, Gracile, or otherwise. As such, we understand what drives them, even when they grapple with emotional duality that would break weaker individuals. In that way, they come to life in a way few have and enter the league of characters previously dominated by Han Solo and Katniss Everdeen.

The authors also employ references that we are privy to ourselves, using furtive glances back at people like Stalin and other aspects of Russian history to keep us grounded on Earth. Said allusions also serve to remind us that although we may not fully recognize the world within this tale, the characters are just as human as we are (even if they have been genetically modified somewhere along the line), thereby making them more genuine and their drives, desires and fears more plausible. The result is that Jones and Worthington have created a new legend for us to bide one’s time with during the pandemic, one which keeps us on the edge of our seats even as it reminds us that no matter how bleak things get, mankind will fight to survive.

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Stu Jones
Stu Jones

Stu Jones is the author of the post-apocalyptic Action of Purpose trilogy, which includes: Through the Fury to the DawnInto the Dark of the Day, and Against the Fading of the LightHe developed his passion for writing during college as he pursued a bachelor’s degree in history.

Since that time, Stu served full time as a law enforcement officer for 12 years, worked as an investigator, taught SWAT close quarters and defensive tactics, and was a member and team leader of a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team. He is also trained and qualified as a law enforcement SWAT sniper, as well as in hostage rescue and high-risk entry tactics. He is an Eagle Scout, a lifelong martial artist, and an avid outdoorsman.

Stu currently lives in Alabama with his wife, two children, and a golden-doodle named Gunny who thinks he’s human. Visit Stu’s home on the Web at StuJonesFiction.com, like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Gareth Worthington
Gareth Worthington

Gareth Worthington BSc PhD is the author of It Takes Death to Reach a Star and Children of the Fifth Son, which won the science fiction category at the London Book Festival 2017.  All of his books have been optioned for television/film.

He is a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, the British Science Fiction Association, and the International Thriller Writers. Additionally, he is a founding board member of the Vesuvian Media Group, Inc., a unique books-to-film corporation.

A trained marine biologist with a doctorate in comparative endocrinology, an EMBA from the Quantic School of Business and Technology, and multiple post-grad certifications in pharmaceutical industry-related disciplines, Gareth currently works in medical affairs on new cancer therapies for the pharmaceutical industry.

When he isn’t writing fiction, his passions include martial arts (he trained in Jeet Kune Do, Muay Thai, and MMA at the prestigious EVOLVE MMA gym in Singapore and 2FIGHT in Switzerland), and studying ancient history.

Born in England, Gareth currently resides outside of Zurich, Switzerland. Visit his home on the Web at GarethWorthington.com, like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

By Stu Jones and Gareth Worthington
396 pp. Vesuvian Books. $17.99

Purchase In the Shadow of a Valiant Moon direct from Jathan & Heather’s Beach Reads Book Shop or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, IndieBound, or Powell’s.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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