57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2013
Seven Forges has left me confused after finishing it, more so than any other book I've read this year. Why? Well, Seven Forges has so many elements going for it: the world-building is great, the characters are interesting, snappy dialogue, interesting plot. Yet for some reason, the elements didn't gel together smoothly and so the book made for an uneven read. And I'm having a hard time putting my finger on why exactly I found it to be so.
What initially drew my attention to Seven Forges and what somewhat set it apart for me was the world building. Moore sets his story in a world where the largest desolate and harsh environment isn't your usual desert, no he chooses to set it in an icy landscape that is bleak and dark and completely inhospitable. He also hints throughout the story that there is more to this world, that the geography of it is unreliable as it's seemingly changing in unexpected ways: distances getting shorter and features of the landscape, such as mountains and islands, moving or disappearing. I found the world our protagonists travel through fascinating, from the sea shores of Roathes, the political intrigue at the castle in Tyrne, the bleakness of the Blasted Lands, to the majestic, but cold, splendour of the The Seven Forges, they all held my interest.
Similarly, Moore does a good job with his characters. While there are numerous points of view throughout the book, about thirteen if I remember them all, the main viewpoints are shared between Merros, Andover, Desh, and Drask. Merros is a likeable sort, who gets drawn back into the Empire's service after having retired as Captain. I liked his sense of responsibility, especially towards those under his command. He isn't afraid to fight and knows death and loss is part of that, but he hates losing men on his watch regardless. I loved his bond with his second-in-command, Wollis. They had an easy-going bond that comes from long association and I really liked the banter between them. In contrast, Andover is a youth who is just growing into being an adult. While I found his story arc immediately engaging, he's a typical teenager and as such not always very sympathetic. But he was well-written and there is a lot of potential there. Desh is a quite human character, despite being a centuries-old sorcerer and I quite liked his snide sense of humour. His exchanges with Emperor Pathra had me sniggering quite a few times.
Drask is the first Sa'ba Taalor the Empire, and the reader encounters and as such he's an important figure. He sets the tone of what we can expect from the Sa'ba Taalor, or does he? I found this new race the Empire encountered completely compelling. I really liked the mythology and religion Moore has crafted for them and the way they have adapted to the harsh living conditions they were forced into by the fall of Kowra and the creation of the Blasted Lands. They are a warrior culture, trained in battle from the moment they can stand, regardless of their sex or their standing in the community. While we learn a lot about them, a lot remains hidden - most notably the way they look, as they wear veils at all times in the book - and there are a lot of additional hints at more mysteries towards the end of the book.
I loved that especially among the Sa'ba Taalor men and women are equal and the women have just as much agency as the men. Unfortunately, however much agency the women have, they are all written through a heavy male gaze and this was the one giant drawback for me. Time and again we are told how stunningly beautiful Tega, the Sisters, and Princesses Lanaie and Nachia are, and how strangely alluring the female Sa'ba Taalor are with their blend of physical prowess and unapologetic feminine curves. I could have excused this in Andover's case, because he's a hormonal, love-struck teen, but he's not the only one to look at the women in this way. All of the characters do it, except perhaps Drask and Tusk, the Sa'ba Taalor leaders. I don't mind all the female characters being gorgeous or attractive, not at all, but after the first time it's been observed, I don't have to be told over and over again. Especially in the case of the three Sisters that assist Desh, the emphasis on their beauty and the implied use of their physical attributes to get done what they need to get done, became grating.
The writing and pacing of the book felt somewhat uneven, with quite obvious tonal differences between passages and a rather slow build-up leading into a lightening ending. I had a hard time for about the first 100 pages of the book. Seven Forges seemed like it should be a quick read, but I found myself being easily distracted from it during that first third of the story and it was only once I passed the halfway point that I found I was really invested. While this may have been due to me being tired, I think that part of it is that this is clearly the first book in a series and there is a lot of setting up for the rest of the story. However, Moore is great at snappy dialogue and banter and his characters had me laughing out loud several times.
Seven Forges didn't knock my socks off, but it's hooked me enough to make sure I'll be back for the next instalment. After the explosive plot twist in the last chapters of the book, how could I not be? I'm hoping we'll see lots more of the Sa'ba Taalor and their society and of Merros. Moore has set off some bombs in the final pages of his story and it'll be interesting to see how his characters deal with the fall out in the next book.
This book was provided for review by the publisher.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2013
*I received this book as an eARC from Angry Robot on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
Seven Forges is a digestible Game of Thrones. It has all the intrigue and high fantasy, but packaged in a Lunchable instead of an eighteen course feast.
There are a lot of characters, but they all are interesting and complex, having their own goals and motives. Within each chapter the character perspective may change multiple times. I found this hard to follow at first, but I quickly got used to it.
The world of Fellein is an interesting and complex world. There is an emperor with kings under him ruling different countries. At the start of this novel, a new people are discovered in an area thought to be inhospitable. The book follows the changes these people's appearance bring to the world.
The mythology and religion of all the different cultures are very interesting. There are just enough details given that are relevant to the current situation and overall story. In A Song of Fire and Ice, there are so many details that aren't necessarily relevant to the plot at that time. Seven Forges gives you just enough information, leaving you hungry for more.
I liked how magic was portrayed with the emperor's aid, Desh Krohan. Magic always has a price and its not very common. I thought the silver hands were really cool and I thought the story might dip its feet into sci-fi territory, but it didn't in this book. Maybe it will lead that direction in sequels.
The royal intrigue is also present. There are characters from all walks of life, from a homeless teenage boy to the emperor himself.
I keep comparing this to George R.R. Martin's series, but that is only because its one of the most popular fantasy series out there right now. Seven Forges didn't feel as epic. Many of the high intensity moments fell a little flat to me. I wanted more to happen. I wanted things to get more complicated. And toward the end they did. And I want more!
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I want more. I am now invested in this world and want to know more about it. I will definitely be looking for a sequel. If you are having Game of Thrones withdrawal or want to read something more manageable, I suggest this book. I give this book a 4/5!
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2013
Good evening constant reader.
If you like a sword and sorcery epic with characters who all but grab you by the hand and drag you through the narrative, a story line that takes your interest and holds it hostage until it's had it's way with you, a lot of action, is well-paced and is so good, you don't want to put it down, but at the same time, don't want to finish it too quick (then the awesome is over), this book my dears, is for you.
Merros Dulver is leading a group of men making their way to explore the Seven Forges, spikes of mountain that can be seen from the distance of their home land Fellein, but until now have remained unexplored. They encounter a race of people who populate this wild and barren land and it seems as if they were "expected" - Merros's arrival was foreseen. The strangers he discovers there join him on his return to Fellein, but Merros wonders if this might be a mistake, to mix his people with the newcomers. The newcomer's Gods are rather martial and they have wild ways about them. Yet they return to Fellein, and the stage is set.
As I kept reading, I got more and more sucked in to this world and the magic and interesting creatures that abide there. There's more than enough sword play, a sorcerer who gave me the wiggins and made me never want to trust him, a young man who loses a lot and gains more, so much more, but at what ultimate cost, female characters that are more than just pretty faces, though there are some pretty faces, too, and an ending I didn't see coming and when it arrived, with too few pages left in the book, told me we're in for another installment in this series.
My biggest gripe about fantasy writing is it can get too caught up in itself and stretch on and on and on and on, lasting for umpteen volumes. With each new installment, the story starts to stretch our further and further from the core that captured one's attention in the first place. This is why in my pleasure reading, I tend to shun multi-volume epics. Until now.
Mr. Moore, James if I may...I hope you've got the next volume in this series written, or if not written, at least well mapped out, because I want more, and so will everyone else who has any taste other than in their mouths.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2013
Seven Forges by James A. Moore caught my eye by the cover and tagline "War is Coming." (Maybe I was subliminally hoping for something similar to another popular series >.>) I didn't actually realized until I finished Seven Forges that the guy on the cover has a silver hand, so I am helping you by pointing that out :D. Isn't it cool?? Anyway, Seven Forges has a pretty interesting premise in that it manages to mix traditional high fantasy with fairly realistic implications for isolated groups of humans separated for thousands of years. I'm hoping that there is a sequel, since I can see it going in a lot of interesting directions, but I'm just not sure since there isn't a series indicated yet :(.
Note: I received an advanced copy of Seven Forces through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
That guy on the cover is from a race of humanoids that got isolated from the rest of the world when natural disaster struck, notice anything strange about him (besides the hand that I already pointed out :-P). No? Well just wait :D. I was quite a fan of Seven Forges' cool new fantasy race and am thrilled to encounter a book that actually has isolated populations diverging from each other!
Wow, that twist. In some ways I think I should have seen it coming, and I kind of did, but Seven Forges just lulled me into security and BAM! Craziness!
There is a definite air of mystery around a lot of elements in Seven Forges. It's understandable that two races that are still trying to figure each other out wouldn't share everything down to their favorite color, but it's more than that. We never really get confirmation about a couple of mystical things and it worked well since it just made them all the more mystical :D.
Seven Forges has a strange habit of "foreshadowing" by just throwing in a sentence about what will happen in the future. It almost felt like these sentences should come with a freaking spoiler warning. I would have preferred a bit more subtlety like that mystery discussed above.
There are A LOT of characters and each of them have the typical first and second name and possibly a nickname. It's really confusing to keep the switching POV straight when sometimes a character is called his/her first name and sometimes last name and sometimes nickname/honorific. I felt like I needed a cast list.
I honestly didn't really connect with any of the characters. While there is a crazy amount of POV switching, there are definitely main and secondary characters, but I didn't really get to spend enough time with any of them to deeply connect. I kind of shrugged at the end of Seven Forges since what happened to various characters didn't bother me.
Crazy cliffhanger warning. If there isn't a second book in the works, I will be sad. I must know the answers!
Seven Forges is a mix of fresh and awesome fantasy and kind of struggling motivations. I didn't get a lot of feels and had a bit of trouble following all the interweaving POV. However, I applaud a book that is willing to go as crazy realistic as Seven Forges did with that plot twist. I would very much like to read another story in the Seven Forges world, but maybe with just one POV?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2013
We to begin?
We have never heard of this author, but the awesome cover art by Alejandro Colucci and interesting title caught out eye.
Now, after just finishing Seven Forges, we have to say that not only did this new fantasy author we took a chance on reach our expectations, he exceeded them!
We've noticed some reviewers model this book to Game of Thrones. Wrong analogy.
SEVEN FORGES is much more in the league of Joe Abercrombie meets Robert E. Howard Meets Ken Scholes' Psalms of Isaak series. (But really, it just has James Moore's uniqueness.)
The 1st chapter captured our attention right away, and then it never let up till the end.
James Moore is one of the new talents we've recently tried out in the fantasy genre, and has really proven himself with his 1st fantasy novel that he has a great and talented voice for this genre.
In fact, out of all of the Angry Robot books we've tried through the years, Moore is by far the best of them, in our humble opinion. AND had one of the best cover designs. How this book does not have lots more positive reviews is crazy.
Perhaps by reviews such as this one will make people purchase this amazingly effective, inventive, and action-packed novel that is sure to thrill fans of above authors we mentioned.
James A. Moore doesn't waste time introducing the reader to his savage landscape of the mysterious and dangerous Blasted Lands, where creepy monsters lurk and ancient dead cities await rediscovery. Author Moore never lets up from there, giving the reader a chock-full of adrenaline rush that runs the gambit from high stakes adventure to mysteries to court intrigue, all done with aplomb.
To say this first in a brand-new series is akin to Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian series would be pretty accurate. Even Conan himself would have a heard time against the best part of this book - the mysterious and barbarous people called the Sa'Ba Taalor. Gray-skinned and veiled muscled warriors from out of the Blasted Lands, even their women are killers of the worst kind. This is just one area where Moore shines his pen light, weaving his yarn of secretive ancient gods of a lost land whose people come out of the vast, desolate, and frozen landscape to save the only expedition that has made a successful mission to this impassable mountain range known as the Seven Forges.
Being hardcore readers for several decades in this genre, having read all the top billing authors out there, along with numerous newer ones such as this, we have to say that Seven Forges brings back that lost Sword & Sorcery genre that has seemingly been lost. We love this type of adventure writing. This is more primal and savage, with its vengeful gods and lost warriors coming out after countless millennia, to come forth and face Mankind again - but on its own terms.
We have to say that the ending was very abrupt. Not that that is a bad thing. It just felt like a strange way to end a book.
But it left us wanting more. So, in that respect, the author has captured our attention.
We loved the stylistic approach that Moore used here. Even though there were tropes that he used that we've seen in other fantasy novels, he still manages to infuse his own brand of colorful world-building and numerous interesting characters that we cannot wait to revisit in his next book - The Blasted Lands.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2013
Seven Forges by James A. Moore is one of those epic fantasies with a mean looking hooded guy on the front cover. Don't let that fool you, because this is not a story about crooks, thieves or assassins skulking through the night. Seven Forges is a straight up epic fantasy full of intricate world building and populated with very competent warriors leaping around the place and cleaving monsters in half with very large swords. And that makes me happy.
There are some issues - a steep learning curve, a lot of shifting back and forth between view point characters, and an ending more focused on setting up the rest of the series rather than wrapping up the events from the book. But these are minor gripes compared to the intricate plotting, the solid world building, the depth of characterization, and how immersed I felt reading this story.
Seven Forges is one of the better epic fantasies I've read in the last couple of years.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2014
There is no doubt that this guy knows how to write. However, and I don't know why I felt this way, but the language, dialogue in particular, just felt very contrived. The story started well, but the kid losing his hands for looking at a girl was just way too far out and the fact that this loser kid is all the sudden chosen by the Gods of another people and his own emperor as a go between, and conveniently just lost his hands for no reason, was just the author forcing the story rather than leading up in a creative way. Then Merros and the girl he rides to Guntha with get into a situation right when she enters a completely unfamiliar city, she kills several people, and things will be fine as long as they leave the scene quickly. OK, forgive me but the city guard knows nothing about her skills, the author has already alluded to the people being seen as outsiders immediately, but nobody comes running when one of them starts killing people the second she hits their streets. I understand that she was defending herself, but it would have made so much more sense if someone of authority in Guntha reacted to what she did in at least a somewhat suspicious manner. I love fantasy, and his writing does seem to get better along the way, so I will buy the next book. However, I felt the story lacked the originality to be an instant great fantasy. Oh, and I may be wrong but the seven Gods, and the people that worship them, seem eerily reminiscent of the Gods of the Teblor, and the Teblor themselves from Steven Erikson's hugely popular Malazan Book of the Fallen. I suspect the seven will prove to be none other than seven wizardly survivors of their huge cataclysm, which seems to be none too subtly foreshadowed by the author in his descriptions of their creation stories. This would be an almost identical situation to the Teblor of Erikson, whose Gods also turned out to be powerful but devious as they lied to their people to achieve their goals. Like I said, the people themselves seem way too similar to Erikson's as well...giant versions of humanity with a warlike way and a knack for killing pretty much anything. Predictable and overall just too cliche. However, if I could have given it an extra half star I would've, as it is entertaining and packed with some things that all fantasy lovers admire.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2014
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher Angry Robot for this ARC. I really enjoyed this book. The cover is excellent; it caught my attention enough to read the synopsis. After reading the synopsis, I was even more excited to read this book. Basically, The Seven Forges is about a mercenary who is sent by a wizard to map out The Blasted Lands, an area that was devastated by some unspecified cataclysm thousands of years ago. The book starts off relatively fast, with the main characters battling monsters and then subsequently saved by a mysterious lone rider. The Seven Forges follows multiple plot lines about the Fellein Empire's emperor, the wizard, the mercenary company, and the unknown race called the Sa'ba Taalor from which the previous mentioned lone rider hails from. There is religion, political intrigue, magic, monsters, mystery, and romance. The world building is extremely good. The character building is good. There is some interesting lore about the aforementioned cataclysm as well as the gods, one for each of the seven forges scattered throughout The Blasted Realms.
This book is well written and the plot is easy to follow. I read this in 3 sittings over the course of 2 days. A lot happens in 320 pages and this is a high point for me because I don't like books that go on and on and on. I like my fantasy to get to the point in the style of Glenn Cook and Michael Moorcock, and not beat around the bush. There were very few places I was bored which is another plus as I don't last long with books which bore me for more than a few pages. Most of the locations and characters are easy to remember which is great. Too often fantasy authors use outrageous sounding names and happily here most people are easy to remember.
The ending of The Seven Forges was excellent and very surprising! I can't wait for the next Seven Forges book to be released. I look forward to the events to come and also learning more about the main characters, the gods,the Sa'ba Taalor, and what happened to The Blasted Lands. Highly recommended to fantasy readers. I wouldn't consider this Grimdark (my favorite genre) but it definitely walks that line. Fans of Glenn Cook, Joe Abercrombie, and Mark Lawrence will most likely enjoy this! Give it a try.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2014
Starts off a bit slow, but definitely well worth continuing on. By the 2nd chapter I was losing sleep, because I couldn't put the book down, Can't wait for the next instalment...........Hopefully it doesn't take too long! Hint Hint
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2014
All in all a tightly woven story, but it seems 90% of the book is a prelude to the twist in the end wherein you are left a cliff hanger. Makes you want to read the next book, but not necessarily re-read this one.