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Seven Forges Kindle Edition
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|Length: 400 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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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.
I’m a details girl. I like to know enough about the world to feel like I’m in it. While this did a semi-decent job of that there was still so much more I wanted to know about some of the religions, cultures and character motivations. There is a little but sometimes I felt like it was just told to me instead of the author showing me why certain characters acted a certain way. But there is enough to give it a good plot line and world to work with.
I struggled a little since none of the characters are particularly loveable. Probably the most noble of the characters is an aged Wizard that had been alive for centuries and epic/high fantasy has taught me not to trust in wizards unless they happen to be Gandalf the Grey.
Little known fact: sometimes wizards do things just because it amuses them. At least they do if their name is Desh Krohan. There were many rumors about the sorcerer, quite a few of which were blatant lies he'd created himself, but one rumor that was true was that he'd been around for centuries. Sometimes that meant he had to find ways to drive away boredom.
But all the other main characters were terribly flawed and so sometimes I was attached to them and other times they could have been killed off and I wouldn’t have cared.
Still there are some very interesting things going on. There is a warrior culture the Sa’Ba Taalor who have found a way to interact with metal and sometimes use it to meld into their bodies. I found this part of the world pretty exciting. Everytime there is a warrior culture I do find myself comparing it to the Doth’raki from Game of Thrones and they do share a few basic similarities in that whole ‘Might is Right’ mentality and most of their disagreements are solved with fighting and they also have a fierce devotion to their gods.
"All gods offer blessings. All gods demand sacrifices. All gods demand a price, yes?"
They have cooler semi-horselike (only in they have four legs and carry people) mounts that are almost as scary as they are.
Drask was my favorite of these Sa’ba Taalor and by the end of the book I still liked him, mostly (which is better than most of the characters faired) but I’m just not sure what his culture is really up to. Things get a bit crazy there at the end.
Merros is another would be hero in our story. For some reason the Sa’ba Taalor have come to find him specifically. This is a pretty huge deal since they are a culture of myth and mystery and no one has seen them before. I enjoyed getting to know the Sa’ba Taalor through Merros’s exchanges with them. Still he also is a flawed character so sometimes I thought I could really get behind him and other times I grew to really hate him. Still I can’t say he was ever boring and there is that whole prophecy about him we get at the beginning.
"You will lose your hand, find your fist and gain an ally. You will also meet your enemy face-to-face."
This was a pretty good introduction to the world and even though a few of the reveals I totally saw coming there was the one I totally did not that made the twist at the end well worth waiting for and made me question a few of my assumptions earlier in the story.
This is one of those books that you don’t really have to love the characters to enjoy what is going on but I hope that as the series continues I find someone to really start pulling for. This was a little fun towards the end as I developed a few theories about the possible connections between events and a few of the directions that the characters and plot can go from here. I really hope to find a little more in the next installment.
Most recent customer reviews
Not one of the characters makes a decision that has any effect in the whole outcome of the series.
Would not recommend.