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Seven Forges Paperback – September 19, 2013
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- Item Weight : 10.4 ounces
- ISBN-13 : 978-0857663825
- ISBN-10 : 0857663828
- Dimensions : 5.12 x 0.98 x 7.8 inches
- Publisher : Angry Robot (September 19, 2013)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,860,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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"Merros had no desire to be dinner. To that end he called for his soldiers to get their asses in gear."
"He was very grateful for the ability to sound like he wasn’t ready to piss himself as he took careful aim and fired."
"Really, it was hard to say which was more exquisite, the torture of shattered hands or a broken heart. Poets and physicians each have their own answers."
For me, Merros was hands down my favorite character. What I quoted above was in his PoV within the first chapter, except for the very last one. It was his voice that kept me glued to this book.
The story is an interesting one set in interesting lands. Merros, an ex-soldier turned mercenary, is hired by a wizard and advisor to the king to go into the Blasted Lands, which are barren ice lands, and create a map of the lands. Other expeditions in the past never faired well, so there’s already a sense of doom. Anyway, in these lands Merros comes across a race of people. These people want to travel to his homeland and start relations. Merros escorts them back.
Now, obviously that’s really, really dumbed down. There’s a few other stories going on, but they kinda all tie into these people coming to Merros’s home. But what makes the story engaging is the fact you’re never sure if you can trust these people. You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Now, these new people are very interesting; solving disputes through violence, honor through fighting abilities, and so on. The story spends a lot of time exploring the differences between Merros and these new people. We get to hop into the minds of a few of these Blasted Land natives as the PoV wanders to a few different characters, and it definitely gives you a perspective from both sides. Still, something always feels off about the exchanges, which again is what keeps the reader glued.
Despite all the cultural exploration, the book moves rather quickly. It had enough fighting and action to keep the pages turning. The cast was diverse and entertaining, fleshed out nicely. I enjoyed them all, but Merros had hooked me from the beginning and I always looked forward to his PoV.
As for the world, it felt very nicely developed to me, and I never felt bogged down by history lessons. Yet Moore wove information into the plot effectively. Traveling through the Blasted Lands was my favorite because it was such a harsh and foreign environment compared to where fantasy is usually based. And Moore did an excellent job of describing the scene without boring me to tears.
Overall, if you’re looking for something that goes a bit off the beaten track in terms of setting, you should pick this up. It was a fast read, and as I said, entertaining.
Mr. Moore has written a heroic fantasy as good as there is available. He has peopled it with interesting characters: soldiers and mages, kings and courtiers, brutal, hulking enemies and fearsome beasts. And that is only in volume 1 of what I think is , so far, a four part series.
If they are all as good as " The Seven Forges" I am going to be busy for a while.
There is enough slashing combat to satisfy any desire, along with Royal treachery, secret plots and a few romances.
The only reason it wasn't a 5 star was the first quarter or so of the book being mostly average at best and that I felt the characters for the most part were flat and had no real personality.
Top reviews from other countries
And it’s the worldbuilding and mythology that really shine in the story. Against the suitably ‘epic’ scale are a number of POV characters (over ten – it’s been a while since I read this, so please forgive me) but not all of these deliver as strongly as their peers. I would add that the male characters are typically ‘male’ with added ‘male gaze’ and while the female characters are strong in their own rights, it’s this male gaze that detracts from their own strong characterisation.
Whilst I struggled with the pacing at the start, once this got going, it was more than interesting enough to keep me going. On the note of ‘interesting’ something I look for in books (especially those in a series) is the ‘x factor’ that turns a book from ‘grabbing my interesting’ to ‘me becoming invested in it’. I was missing this ‘wow’ until the final chapters, but that ending, and twist, well, consider me sold.
Admittedly, this isn’t going to be one of my favourite books, but it’s certainly one that I will remember for its alien-esque approach to fantasy, beyond the usual ‘elves and dwarves’. And I am certainly on board for what the rest of the series brings.
I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the rest of the series. The only thing that did grate rather, and I note that other reviewers have also mentioned this, is the extremely judgmental views that are all too frequently given on the beauty, or otherwise, of the women in the story. Given that the story is told from the perspective of a number of characters, it’s quite on the cards, of course, that some of the characters do see the people around them from this perspective, but it did become rather annoying when everyone seemed to do it. There is an earthy sort of humour and wit to be found in many of the characters, and it’s fair enough that that is the type of people that they are, but I think the sexist remarks are definitely overdone. I hope that aspect of the writing is not evident in the rest of the series.
The first strongpoint is that this book reads easily. I found it rather griping. I read it from cover to cover in less than a day and a half, snatching every spare moment to read a few more pages and finishing it off during a rather extended lunch break.
One of the reasons for this is the world setting, or, more accurately, the description of the Blasted Lands with all their inhospitable landscapes resulting from a disastrous war fought a millennia ago and with plenty of danger lurking just out of eye sight. Also impressive are the very mysterious Seven Forges, each a mountain and a separate kingdom consecrated to a special god and shrouded in as much mystery that the author could come up with. I was however less impressed by the description of the Empire of Fellein, or at least the bits we learn about in this volume, including its capital, and which I found rather bland. Another little reservation is that a map of the continent would have been a useful addition and is somewhat missing to appreciate the main characters trekking back and forth between the Imperial capital and the Seven Forges, and the vast distances involved.
Another interesting part is the theme of an ancient continent, once upon a time shattered by a devastating war. The various parts of the land have changed. Some of them have become unknown and are being rediscovered through exploration. The circumstances of the cataclysm have become largely forgotten, especially by the Empire of Fellein built upon the ruins of an older one and which lays due South of the Blasted Lands. The was nothing terribly original wirth all this scene setting, but it was rather well told, with just enough to keep you interested. A lot (or even most) of the history of the continent held back, either for future instalments (this is book 1 of the trilogy) or simply because it is supposed to be forgotten.
Some of the characters are also interesting, or even fascinating, although others – such as the teen-ager Andover’s “coming of age” and becoming somewhat unwillingly a warrior – are rather unoriginal. Among the most fascinating characters, the terrible and fearless Sa’ba Taalor, seem to be somewhat of a cross between berserkers and ninjas. They are certainly the most powerful, to the extent that they almost steal the light from all of the other characters. In addition to their talents as warrior, the mystery that shrouds them, including the veils that all warriors, whether male or female, use to hide their faces together with the ambivalence of their behaviours and intentions that make them quite fascinating, especially when combined with a few demonstrations of the above mentioned talents.
A number of other characters are also well-rounded, even if less original. This is the case of the Emperor, his chief advisor – a near immortal wizard – and one Merros Dulver, who begins the story as a mercenary and ex-captain of the imperial army and turns out to be the main hero of the story. I was less impressed by the female characters because they seem to almost always two dimensional (alluring and/or dangerous) to the point of caricature.
Finally, the author has used a couple of powerful tricks to keep the reader on his toes. They have been used before. Some may find them artificial, and maybe they are, but they worked rather well for me. One was to start his story with a convey trekking through the frozen Blasted Lands and subject to a ferocious attack from hellish and terrifying monsters. Another was to pack a lot of action within the last 80 pages or so of the book, where the action, the whole story and the Empire of Fellein almost literally explodes in your face and just about everything goes wrong everywhere at once. Needless to say, the first device drags you into the novel. The second one leaves you wanting for more, and having to wait for volume two…
This is a slow-paced trilogy-opener set in a post-cataclysmic fantasy world with vaguely-medieval technology and some sorcery. Most people have settled down in a peaceful enough, feudal sort of empire. When a new people from an isolated kingdom with much more active, involved and malevolent gods show up, clearly there's going to be trouble.
What killed this novel for me is the complete lack of any feeling of authenticity or historicity. The emperor and empire of the more mainstream humans seem like they would be incapable of holding power over a hutch of rabbits, while the monstrous inhabitants of the titular Seven Forges are bleak-hearted superhuman followers of their gods' cruel instructions. It seems obvious that the empire is going to be stomped all over, but it's hard to find any reason to care. Each character is sympathetic and interesting enough in isolation, but there's no feeling that they inhabit any kind of real world or society. It's more like a recitation of someone's D&D campaign.