Seven Forges is one of the better epic fantasies Iíve read in the last couple of years.
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.
Seven Forges is a first contact story, kind of like first contact between the humans and the Klingons in Star Trek, but in an epic fantasy setting. An empire of politically driven humans have finally succeeded with one of their expeditions to reach the Seven Forges, a land that was decimated by the Gods and has been unexplored for more than a thousand years. What the expedition finds is a race of warriors, the Sa'ba Taalor, forged by the unforgiving land into highly competent and almost unstoppable beings. The two races begin the process towards becoming friends, but something is always simmering in the background, and it feels like just the slightest misstep will result in an all out war.
This is a plot driven story, with action and tension escalating and escalating until the metaphorical rubber band finally snaps close to the end. We get many viewpoint characters who help us explore a number of subplots from different perspectives throughout the story, and while it was a lot to take in I never found myself bored. It was very exciting to read, but the rubber band snapping at the end didn't resolve anything, but rather initiated a bunch of cool events that will take place in the next book - it wasn't the immediately fulfilling type of ending I was hoping for, but its an ending I think I can appreciate on reflection.
I haven't read a lot of epic fantasy lately, but the world building really shone through in this novel. We get uncharted frozen tundra full of scary animals and even scarier people. We get deserts and beaches and plains. We get to see political machinations of an established empire contrasted with the simplicity of nomadic warriors. And we get to see vengeful gods who offer gifts to those deemed strong and worthy enough to bear them. The characters too I found to be very well crafted, complete with many identifying traits and idiosyncrasies, but I found it hard to empathize with many of them except for Andover and maybe Merros.
Probably the biggest issue I had with this book was the rapid shifting of viewpoints from character to character. It was hard to maintain an awareness of everything that was going on, especially at the start when I was trying to wrap my head around this brand new world the author had created. By the end of the story many of the viewpoints had come together and I had a much better handle on things, but I worry that a difficult entry might put readers off experiencing this book.
I've written a lot about the gripes I had with this book, but they are small gripes in the bigger scheme of things. There was much more stuff to enjoy, from the impressive action sequences, to the adventuring through strange new lands. I got sucked in to this story and finished it in a couple of days, and even though I didn't find the ending all that fulfilling, I still really want to find out what happens next. Seven Forges is one of the better epic fantasies I've read in the last couple of years.
Review by Ryan Lawler
Garry from USA
I loved this book! I have been reading fantasy novels ( and all its sub-genres ) for decades. Because of the sheer volume of fantasy I have read, I have become somewhat jaded and it has become increasingly difficult to impress me. However, Seven Forges did impress me... a lot! Great characters, several plot twists, and the world building was accomplished as the story progressed, not dedicated to what tends to be a very slow first hundred pages in most other fantasy novels. I finished this book and got right on line and ordered the next two in the series. I heartily recommend this book!
8.8/10 from 2 reviews