by James A. Moore
Cover Artist: Alejandro Colucci
Review by Mel Jacob
Angry Robot Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780857663825
Date: 19 September 2013
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
Seven Forges by James A. Moore explores an post-apocalyptic type world. Captain Merros Dulver leads an expedition across the frozen wastes of the Blasted Land seeking information about the ancients and their cities. Attacked by the fierce Pra-Moresh, large, vicious beasts, he resigns himself to death when his soldiers' defense crumples. Suddenly, a lone warrior comes to their aid and drives off the beasts. Then he tells Dulver he comes to fetch him for his king.
Merros and his troop thought all life had ceased outside their own realm of Fellein. Sent by the king's adviser, the wizard Desh Korhan, and accompanied by his three female assistants with magic powers and the ability to shift form as well as communicate over vast distances, Merros now learns seven kingdoms lie beyond the Blasted Lands. He and his men follow the warrior and meet others as they near the mountains on the edge of the Blasted Lands. The warrior warns them away from a destroyed city with tales of strange beasts there.
Eventually, they link up with other warriors like their savior. All are scarred, veiled, and heavily armed. At last, they reach a small village on the edge of the Blasted Lands where they rest and recover.
Another strand of the novel follows Andover, an apprentice to a blacksmith, who aspires to the love of a beautiful young girl. Unfortunately, one of the city guards takes umbrage and decides to punish Andover. He is beaten and his hands shattered. His life ruined, Andover wants to die. Tega, the girl he loves, asks Desh Korhan to treat him.
Once Merros reaches the Seven Forges, he is examined and then asked to lead warrior emissaries of the kingdoms back to his home city. A troop of hardened warriors, male and female, accompany him on the return trip. They carry gifts for Merros's king.
The troops of the Fellein Empire are soft and no match for hardened warriors. If war comes, the end seems certain. Yet no one is clear why it should come.
Matters with Seven kingdoms are not what they seem, as Merros, Desh, and others soon learn. The legacy of the old wars and their aftermath remains. Old hatreds revive. The present novel ends with Andover facing an overwhelming enemy.
Moore, the author of some twenty novels and a writer for Marvel Comics, has created sympathetic and interesting characters. His world is interesting, but not entirely new. He combines a fantasy setting and culture with warrior cults, wizardry, and more, as he sets the scene for the sequel to come. Many questions remain unanswered and the motives of the Seven kingdoms are murky, but sinister.
The writing is easy to follow and begins with plenty of action. Merros is both an observer and a reluctant participant. The role and motivations of others are not yet clear. The success of the series will depend heavily on the sequel.
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