When I began reading the book, I was a bit worried that the book might turn out to be a case study in stereotypical fantasy – a wizard, transformed into an animal, sneaking into a very dangerous place – but as I read on, and sank deeper into the storyline, I got the feeling that a Steven Erikson was being pulled – the use of normal fantasy tropes in new, unique and interesting ways! Once I realized that, I really got down to enjoying the book.
There are a few things that Chris does very well, and one of them is characters – not only does he not spend an inordinate amount of time describing the character (he fixes them in your mind in a few sentences), but each character is vibrant and unique and interesting. The main character, for example, is a pretty damn strange one! An elf that hates the forest definitely makes for an interesting character!
Konowa’s.. erm, lady friend did get a bit irritating, though, but maybe I’m just biased, because Konowa practically drives her to it, being a man’s elf and all. The way they dance around each other is very entertaining, though, and hopefully we’ll see them get a bit closer in The Light of Burning Shadows.
Another character that was absolutely awesome was the rock-munching section leader! That dwarf is one of the best fantasy characters I’ve ever come across! He does steel the show, and I can’t wait to see where he goes and what he does in Book 2. (He better be in Book 2, Chris!)
Chris also builds a convincing, beautiful world with more than it’s fair share of dangers and intrigues, and he also handles the release of information about this world well – there are no info dumps, with info being made available as the characters themselves discover what they need to know, and this is always great to have, especially in fantasy. Fantasy worlds should speak for themselves and not be explained, something that Chris understands very well.
In terms of action, the addition of muskets works very well! I got this whole Colonial England Vs Magic vibe, standing firm in the face of fearless natives! Chris takes us close in, very it’s furious and brutal, and also gives us those tactical viewpoints that are always cool (but not overdone here) in battle scenes! I hope we get to see what Chris can do with huge numbers in battle one day!
All in all, I was very impressed with A Darkness Forged in Fire – not only is it a great addition to Epic Fantasy, but it’s also a fun, entertaining book – something that will intrigue you with it’s cool characters, interesting plot, and it’s unique take on required fantasy elements!
A definite 8/10!
To order your copies, US - click here for Book 1 and here for Book 2; UK click here for Book 1 and here for Book 2; for those in SA, please use the link at the top of the blog.
And don't forget to check out the Iron Elves website, as well as Chris Evans' LiveJournal.