James A. Moore
Angry Robot Books
UK Print Date: 4th October 2013
Format: Medium (B-Format) Paperback R.R.P.: £8.99
US/CAN Print Date: 24th September 2013
Format: Large (Trade) Paperback R.R.P.: US$14.99 CAN$16.99
Ebook Date: 24th September 2013
Format: Epub & Mobi R.R.P.: £5.49 / US$6.99
While this novel is his first epic fantasy, James A. Moore has been working in the horror field for some years now. After reading this book, I’m glad he’s turned his hand to epic fantasy. Seven Forges was one of the best books I’ve read this year. I’d like to thank Angry Robot Books for providing me with an e-ARC.
There are a number of viewpoint characters, but the main character is a mercenary named Merros Dulver. He’s leading an expedition through the Blasted Lands to a chain of mountains known as the Seven Forges. It turns out there is an entire valley on the other side of the Forges. An inhabited valley, and the inhabitants have been waiting for Dulver. Not the expedition he’s leading, but Dulver himself. Before he goes to meet with him, one of the women traveling with the expedition prophesies about what will happen to him after he leaves.
The inhabitants of this region are some serious badasses. They believe each mountain is the home of one of their gods, and their gods are gods of war. While some of these gods believe in mercy, not all of them do. And their worshipers’ devotion to them is absolute. They follow the directions of their gods without hesitation.
Dulver brings a contingent of them back with him to the Empire of Fellein. He and the person who hired him, a sorcerer who has served as advisor to the Emperor for hundreds of years, hope to establish peaceful relations with the strangers. Of course, the words “war is coming” on the cover above the title should tell you that’s probably not going to happen.
I’m not spoiling anything by telling you that. It’s obvious where the story is heading to anyone who is paying attention. What Moore does is use that knowledge to build tension. Something is going to go wrong, but what? And when? Who will end up dead? (You know people will.)
Moore develops his cast well, fleshing out all the major players and many of the minor ones. He makes you care about them. There were a couple of places where I felt some of the foreshadowing was a bit on the heavy side, but that’s a minor quibble. The other quibble was that the e-ARC didn’t have a map. I was almost done with the book before I realized I had the geography turned around in my head. Hopefully, the print edition will have a map. If not, then maybe in the second book, which is scheduled for release sometime next year.
Moore handles the story and the different characters well. He hints at things that make you wonder and want to know more. His fight scenes are visceral and compelling. The political intrigues are multi-layered. We get enough glimpses of the magic system, or systems probably is more accurate, to want to know more about how magic works. Pay attention to what Moore tells you. Pay attention to what he doesn’t.
I finished Severn Forges in four nights, staying up later than I should to do so. It’s not often I’ll stop and reread a scene, but I did more than once. I’m looking forward to see where Moore takes the story next. The prophecy Dulver received early in the book hasn’t been completely fulfilled yet.
Angry Robot hasn’t posted an excerpt yet, or I would include it here. It hits shelves on this side of the Atlantic on Tuesday, in the UK ten days later. Preorder your copy now so you won’t have to wait longer than necessary.