Seven Forges is a roaring adventure, full of larger than life characters and cultures, in a world full of exotic peoples, magicks, and gods. And it’s a violent world, too, full of political intrigues, deadly diplomacy, and treacherous allies. Moore’s the story adeptly raises the stakes and dangers from every direction. If you’re looking for an adventurous escape from your desk, Moore’s Seven Forges will whisk you away to a world where swords and sorcery are as alive as ever.
To think that I almost didn’t finish reading the first page of Seven Forges, James A. Moore‘s first foray into the fantasy genre. It was one of just several books next on my To Be Read list, several of which were sent from various publishers and authors looking for a review. I had that feeling you get after finishing a really good book (the very excellent The Sum of All Men by David Farland) where your mind is still half in the novel and struggling to come back to reality and nothing sounds quite as good as what you just finished…
But I did. And then I flipped to the second page, then the third, and then I was flipping faster and faster….
Yeah. So diving into Moore’s Seven Forges world was a bit rough as I perused that first page, but reading beyond was a ride worth the taking. Within mere paragraphs, Captain Merros Dulver has faced death not once, but twice, it was clear to me that I wouldn’t be able to stop reading anytime soon.
Then, as I turned to the last page, I couldn’t help but wonder: “WHAT?! That’s it?”
In other words: cliffhanger alert. I immediately took to the proverbial road (really, the internet and social media) to hunt down Moore and his publisher. “Before I write a review,” I told them, “Promise me that there’s another book in the series. Or at least in the Seven Forges world.”
Because I guarantee, there’s no way I’m giving any amount of happiness to a book that sucks me in, wraps me up, and then leaves me hanging. (And yes, Moore promised me when I tracked him down. There will be more books in the series).
Opening on a caravan of explorers traveling across the “Blasted Lands” that border the Fellein Empire, Seven Forges tells of Dulver and his discovery of the peoples that live beyond the “Seven Forges,” a series of what sounds like seven volcanos. They are a martial people, each a rippling pillar of strength, armor, weapons, and ability. Trained from birth to be self-sufficient, each is a killer, and each is ever ready to take the law into his, or her, own hands (come to think of it, it’s kind of like a libertarian’s dream come true). Directed by their seven harsh gods, they have been awaiting Dulver, and escort him to their land and follow him home when he returns.
It is a meeting that will change the Fellein Empire forever.
Alive and vibrant the Seven Forges world and characters are, the novel feels more like a prologue or opening act than a full novel. It’s never quite clear what the overarching problem or conflict is, and indeed, it doesn’t become clear until the end of the book what it is I have been watching and expecting. As the summary on the back of the book opens, “War is coming,” and the entire novel seems to creep the people of Fellein closer to that war with the peoples of the Seven Forges. However, as that war arrived, I wasn’t entirely sure which side of the war I would want to support. While it was clear that Dulver is our “everyman” hero from page one, and he maintains a sympathetic place throughout the tale. But the people that surround him are less clear. Sometimes this seems intentionally so, but other times it seem a result of the paucity of the book. It’s just not that long, but packs so many characters and personalities in that there just isn’t enough pages to explore whether someone is good, bad, grey or a victim of his culture.
It also left me with a ton of questions, not just about things like “what happens next,” but others about textual clues and hints that aren’t answered in the story.
–Why the veils? Everyone wants to know about them, but it’s never made clear what they are for.
–How does the magic work? And why is there only one wizard(I suppose there could be others, but we really only hear about one…that I recall)? Gods? I want to hear more about them.
–Who are the bad guys? And is it really? Who’s pulling the strings, here, anyway?
The upshot to these questions is that Moore’s focus really is more on his story than on the intricacies of the world he’s creating. Yes, the world is there, but he’s not going to let a great story get bogged down in the details of how it looks, theology, or mysticism…though I do think it’d be fantastic to add more in this regards.
But I better stop there to avoid spoilers. The story doesn’t hurt because of the unanswered questions because I suspect that Moore is intending to resolve them in later novels. However, it can occasionally be difficult to stretch too many unanswered questions along between novels in a series without resolution.
Through it all, though, Moore keeps the story moving, and each page and chapter presents his many characters with problems to overcome and situations to solve. As I mention (and reiterate loudly), the book comes to an end all too fast, leaving me eager to read more. And indeed, I’m eager to read the sequel (which Moore has personally promised he’s writing).
Seven Forges is an excellent, enjoyable, and thoroughly entertaining fantasy debut into a new world of swords and sorcery, complete with romance, intrigue, and danger. Pre-order it from Amazonor march over to your favorite brick-and-mortar, but don’t miss it on September 24, 2013 when it hits shelves. It’s a ride you won’t want to end.
- Sex: Reference to an affair, but no description.
- Language: There is some swearing, but it doesn’t seem significant.
- Violence: Yes. Lots of it. I would not recommend this to children.
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