Thursday 14 November 2013

Seven Forges - James A Moore

Seven Forges - James A Moore
ISBN - 9780857663825
Publisher - Angry Robot
Release date - September 24 2013
Find - Goodreads/Book Depository

'Captain Merros Dulver is the first in many lifetimes to find a path beyond the great mountains known as the Seven Forges and encounter, at last, the half-forgotten race who live there. And it would appear that they were expecting him. As he returns home, bringing an entourage of strangers with him, he starts to wonder whether his discovery has been such a good thing. For the gods of this lost race are the gods of war, and their memories of that far-off cataclysm have not faded.

The people of Fellein have live with legends for many centuries. To their far north, the Blasted Lands, a legacy of an ancient time of cataclysm, are vast, desolate and impassable, but that doesn't stop the occasional expedition into their fringes in search of any trace of the ancients who had once lived there... and oft-rumored riches.'
- Goodreads

It seems like it's been a long time since I read a fantasy novel that's not YA with strong characters, amazing world-building and the sort of ending that leaves you wanting more. Luckily, that's exactly James A Moore did with Seven Forges so I'm so glad I decided to read this one.

The story starts off with Merros Dulver leading an expedition to land previously uncharted. People have set off on numerous expeditions but have never returned. Not only that, there is talk of creatures called the Pra-Moresh who if you encounter them it's likely to be the last thing you do! The area they're heading to is desolate, a range of mountains called Seven Forges and unexpectedly, inhabited by a race called the Sa'ba Taalor who have grey tinted skin, are never seen without their veils and impossible to tell whether they are male or female. The Sa'ba Taalor are warriors, taught how to fight and use weapons almost from birth and this meeting between the two peoples is about to change history. Merros, his second-in-command Wollis and a small band of Sa'ba Taalor return to Fellein, are introduced to the emperor and to what, rather confusingly, appears to be the nation's only sorcerer - Desh Krohan, with his own personal harem of apprentices and healers. There a couple of other characters introduced here too, a young man called Andover who is almost essential to the plot but in an understated way, in terms of what happens to him and a visiting Royal princess who may or may not be telling the truth.

I loved Seven Forges, the idea of there being seven gods for each of the seven mountains was fascinating as was the mythology behind the Daxar Taalor (their name for their gods) and that they were all gods of war. The differences between the two races was startling, from build to upbringing to fighting they couldn't be much different whilst both being human and the world histories were delved into in such a way that I wanted to read more right then and there. The characters were all well written, my favorites were Merros and Wollis, who acted like a comedy duo but knew they could rely on each other. Andover was intriguing, the things that happen to him obviously happen for a reason and I'm dying to know why both he and Merros were singled out by the Sa'ba Taalor. Desh Krohan also fascinated me, mainly because it was so unclear whether he was the only sorcerer in the Empire of Fellein. He had apprentices and assistants but unless I skipped over it I'm pretty sure there was no mention of another sorcerer. The emperor, Pathra Krous, was another character which held my attention, led by Desh most of the time and constantly worrying about who would try to steal his throne for him but full of completely impractical ideas like travelling to the Blasted Lands to meet with the kings of the Seven Forges!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Seven Forges although I was left speechless by the ending and left wondering for days whether there was to be another book in the series. There were so many threads of stories left open that I need to know what happens next. The writing was fast-paced for the most part, mostly plot driven but never slow, and for a fairly short novel, it crammed in a lot of world-building but didn't overload you with information. There were a couple of places where I had to go back a few pages to re-read things that I somehow missed but the book was great fantasy from start to finish and I want to read more like it, now! 

As an extra bonus there is a short story called The Wounded, available exclusively here on SF Signal for those who wanted more of Seven Forges and Moore's great writing.

Many thanks to Angry Robot for providing a review copy via Netgalley :)

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