A Darkness Forged in Fire by Chris Evans

Modest military fantasy on epic scale but a lot of fun!
A Darkness Forged in Fire book cover

Book one of the Iron Elves is the début story of Chris Evans. If I would be asked to describe the book in a small amount of words I would say:  "An enjoyable mix between ‘high-epic’ and military ‘Napoleon war-style  fantasy‘, a kind of mixed version of ‘the Black Company’ and the ‘Dwarves’.

A book with military realism, a lot less grit you’d expect and way more humour and epic-fantasy-awesomeness than anticipated."

In as few words as possible: Good fun!

In my opinion that doesn't sound too bad, so here’s the pro and cons without spoiling the story for you.

One, the mix is pretty good. The military side of the story has been elaborately described and you really get the feeling Evans knows what he’s talking about. Next to that there are some really enjoyable creatures, places and creations loose in this story that you’d normally only see in the epic genre. Another thing I really enjoyed was the use of a rag-tag-refuse of human soldiers and a corrupt dwarf as replacement for an elite force of Elves, now led by a pompous sorry excuse for a prince.

Furthermore, the big difference with your general Epic is that this book has a fast pace. The world keeps turning and the characters really are in a hurry to keep up. This does keep the story exciting but has a negative effect on some of the world and plot building.

A thing that you’d like or not is the use of characters. Evans uses a lot of stereotype characters, who are by the way awesome,  but gives them a small side role and uses some less interesting characters as main point of view. However, I could really forgive Evans for sacrificing some of the details and obvious heroes for some kick-ass action and a bit of realism.

That said, there’s less grit than expected, there is no sex or detailed information about how the gory entrails hang from some victims stomach. But the action is superb and because of the way the characters are, you kind of know there’s huge amounts of blood and grit and horror, but because they've gotten a little used to it so do you.

In my opinion the plot, and the side plots, are not that original nor unpredictable.

Picking up the book and reading the blurb I expected a fight against an evil sorcerer and his minions. Well, you get what you see. But I didn't really miss the originality. This book had enough of humour, action and simply ‘Fantasy-geek’ fun in it, that having book two within my radius of sight is a real blessing.

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