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Hero Forged (Ethereal Earth) (Volume 1) Paperback – May 28, 2018
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"Debut author Erikson blazes onto the urban fantasy scene with a cornucopia of deceptively simple worldbuilding and meticulously plotted storytelling... This is an intricate mystery laced with humor and lore. Precise characterization, and an equal focus on personal evolution and the everyday fantastic, lend the novel a satisfying gravitas. Fans of Jim Butcher and Craig Schaefer will gobble up this trilogy launch and eagerly await more." - Publishers Weekly
Looks like I've got a new author to add to my personal pantheon of fantasy favourites! - Bookshine and Readbows
Hero Forged is one of those just-another-chapter books, and if you do manage to put it down, you want to get back to it as soon as you can. It's action-packed, creatively imagined, and one of the most genuinely funny books I've read in ages, with real heart lightly hidden beneath the humour. - Fantasy Book Review
About the Author
Josh Erikson spent twelve years in the hospitality industry before life gave him a swift enough kick to propel him toward writing. Now he splits his days between thinking up stories for the awesome people reading this and spending time with his wife and two young children. He lives in rural Nebraska, does not own any livestock, and likes corn just fine, thank you very much.
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Gabe is a charming, ruthlessly clever con artist with a skewed (but working) moral compass. He's the master of talking his way out of things he'd talked himself into. Also, he's short on cash. When a chance to earn a decent amount of money appears, Gabe accepts.
Things go downhill fast. Gabe finds himself trapped in a mansion with bloodthirsty and power-hungry lunatics from other dimension and with a god trapped in his head. Oh, and a sexy succubus bonded to him.
Despite his hopes that it was all a drug-induced hallucination, it's real. Demons are after him, the god trapped in him wants to tear free, and the god's wife plans to bring the world to its knees.
Hero Forged shines because of three things: characterisation (especially of Gabe and Heather), masterful pacing and action, and overall writing style. First, characterisation– Gabe is smart, witty, and charming. He tries to be cynical but somehow fails. Under all his false personalities, he's a decent human being with the heart in the right place. His point of view is often hilarious, sometimes profoundly philosophical. As the story progresses, we discover the even shaped him. Beyond Gabe, the other standout character in this book is Heather - Gabe's succubus side-kick. There's much more to her than curvy lines and sex-appeal. I think the author nailed the perfect balance between sly succubi side and a layered, relatable character. Bad guys deserve high praise as well - they were all nuanced, and it was tempting at times to see the things the way they did.
There’s a lot of information packed into Hero Forged, but Erikson’s accessible writing and slick plotting make the pages fly by at a lightning pace. The novel is propelled by Gabe’s efforts to discover the nature of deity trapped in his head and looking for a way he can survive another day. A cinematic conclusion is satisfying, and the ending gives a strong final twist that genuinely surprised me. And Gabe as well, I'm pretty sure.
Any drawbacks? Well, there were some plot devices used to move things forward (especially diverse foes' attacks that "forced" Gabe to negotiate with Aka Manah and gain new "skills"). Anything else? Not really.
By any means, read it. Do it before it gets cool. Josh Erikson is a natural storyteller, but also somewhat of a philosopher too. He's one of these authors who can create original narratives from the elements we all know and love. BHero Forged was fun, clever, and entertaining.
I really enjoyed the excerpts from the beginning of each chapter of Gabe's book that he wrote about his book - "CONscience". It told us the story about what Gabe DID/WAS, and we were allowed to see what happened to him after "CONscience".. Fascinating!
I've read a LOT of books in the past 30 years, and this one was way more excellent than I expected. If there's a part 2, or if there's another book coming soon, I want it! ASAP!!!
There is a lot to like in this book, and that starts with our main character, Gabriel Delling. Gabe is your typical somewhat cocksure, snarky con man. He reminds me a little of a younger Nate Ford from Leverage—just with a demon god trapped in his head. In any case, Erikson easily avoids falling into tired tropes here. The character of Gabe sets him apart and makes the reader want to keep reading because you identify with some of his motivations or—at other times—because you’re truly curious to know if Gabe is going to make it. The side characters, while not as well developed as Gabe, are still a strength of the novel. The pacing was excellent throughout the bulk of the novel, and I felt Erikson sprinkled just enough glimpses of the larger world and what was going on behind the scenes to tantalize without allowing the story to become bogged down or become confusing to the reader. Well done all around.
For me, the end game pacing felt off. The rest of the novel felt so perfectly paced that it was jarring to get to the end game and feel like we entered one end game, only to then enter another, only to then find ourselves in a third. It was, perhaps, drawn out slightly too much. Perhaps another way of saying it is that Erikson had a number of threads to pull together and it may have just taken him two chapters too many to do so. This is not a complaint that these ending chapters amount to an extended epilogue (see The Lord of the Rings), but rather that the pacing just didn’t seem quite right for the final 15% of the novel. In addition to this, on occasion it felt like Gabe sometimes picked up a new ability without much explanation to how the magic worked. I hope to see more exploration of the magic system in future novels set in this world.
Hero Forged is a wonderfully unique, humorous, pulse-pounding adventure that you shouldn’t miss. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the series and I’m glad that I took a “risk” on reading an urban fantasy, Josh Erikson has made me a believer. 4.3/5 stars.
5 – I loved this, couldn’t put it down, move it to the top of your TBR pile
4 – I really enjoyed this, add it to the TBR pile
3 – It was ok, depending on your preferences it may be worth your time
2 – I didn’t like this book, it has significant flaws and I can’t recommend it
1 – I loathe this book with a most loathsome loathing