Author: James A. Moore
Date Published: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Angry Robot Ltd
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.
After reading a fantasy book offering nothing but stoicism, jumping into this book, I find a relief after reading the 2nd paragraph. I know right then and there that I'm going to have a good read and for which the book didn't disappoint. My faith in fantasy has finally been restored (again)!
Seven Forges refer to the seven mountains that rose up north of the Blasted Lands after the great Annihilation. The Blasted Lands is the site of war among kingdoms a thousand years prior, with sorcerors ruining almost everything that it shook the earth, shifted the land that a great fire beneath the earth erupted, engulfing both land and armies. Thus, the war was called the great Annihilation and the seven great mountains that jutted out, the Seven Forges.
As sometimes imperative of a heavy fantasy book (this one isn't that heavy), the book is written in the third-person perspective and shifts from one character to the next across the whole kingdom.
The book begins with the journey of a former-captain-turned-mercenary, Merros Dulver into an expedition set by a sorceror, councilor to the Emperor of the Kingdom of Fellein, Desh Krohan to explore what's beyond the dry, cold and desolate Blasted Lands. Later on, he'll meet with the Sa'ba Taalor, the then unknown people of Seven Forges (outside of the Seven Forges, nobody knows that there are actually people there who exist). He'll bring a number of them with him back to Fellein offering gifts and possibly, alliance.
Among all the characters, I don't know why I'm so taken with Andover Laksh that I ended up dreaming I was him, training myself to be worthy in the eyes of the Daxar Taalor. The Daxar Taalor comprises of seven gods, one god for each mountain of the Seven Forges, Durhallem God of Obsidian, Ydramil God of Silver, Wrommish God of Gold, Truska-Pren God of Iron, and Paedle, Wheklam, and Ordna-- I still don't know much about them.
Andover is just a mere lad (say, a teenager on his way to become an adult) who lost his hands from power-tripping City Guards who hated him for staring into a very pretty girl, Tega that they also set their eyes upon. Later on, he'll be gifted by Truska-Pen with something similar to that of what was given to Drask.
Drask is another character whom I love. He is a Sa'ba Taalor with grayish skin tone (like that of an ash) and hands made of silver. Like all the Sa'ba Taalor, he's a giant of a man with scars running his entire body, and larger than life deadly weapons, with his face hidden beneath a veil for the Daxar Taalor thinks that normal people aren't quite ready to see their faces.
“He’s just having fun. He’s being a hunter.” Merros pointed to the teeth. “He’s planning on adding those to his helmet. He’s just cracking wise because he can’t decide if he wants to merely add them or replace a couple of teeth that have broken in previous combats.” “So he’s bragging?” Merros shook his head. “No. He’s just having a good time. He may as well be a woman discussing what sort of fur to line her cloak with.”
The blockquote above was in reference to Tusk. I took a liking to Tusk so easily when he was introduced. He seemed like the carefree guy who took his killing of beast with such joyous appreciation. He's a huge horrendous-looking man as what can be observed from the Sa’ba Taalor people (in fact, he's claimed to be the biggest, equally with the biggest package :ifyouknowwhatimean:) but somehow, I find him really cute in this small gesture. However, after knowing his real stature of the Seven Forges, I was seeing him in a different light. And a huge gap was formed between us. Not because he's merciless for he follows Durhallem but because I'm way too low for his station. I don't even know why I have to feel this way, he's just a fictional character.
Man brings a plague back with him on a ship, he’s still going to have the plague named after him.
There's a touch of humor in the right places across the book that breaks up monotony when monotony does come. That besides, there are also serious scenes which I find too fascinating like Andover preferring a farrier's hammer for a weapon in a trial by blood combat.
What I like about the Sa'ba Taalor is that while they uphold equality among men and women (they're all warriors), of men respecting women (rape is nonexistent), they are direct people. They don't play in the art of lies and deceit (aka politics). They will tell you exactly how they feel or what they think when asked. But then more so when they want to mount or be mounted :ifyouknowwhatimean:, they don't beat around the bush.
Unfortunately, there are two things I could complain about this book:  the absence of a map or maps, and  the absence of a glossary or some sort of a preface that will guide the readers into the world of... I don't know, let's just say the world of where the Kingdom of Tyrne resides.
A map should be inherent in a fantasy book. I was having a hard time imagining the Blasted Lands. More so, of placing the Seven Forges relative to Tyrne or Roathes as I draw a mental map. It's hard to feel the vastness and the formidability of exploring the Blasted Lands and coming out alive when you don't have a map to orient your imagination.
Oh, he could have accepted naïve and possibly even found a certain appeal in that aspect of a woman’s personality, but she was just plain dumb, and the thought of being wed to a woman he could not hold a conversation with was worse to him than not being wed.
Some people thrive on chaos, even when they choose not to generate it.
This book is the first of the Seven Forges Series, a series that I think is awesome. The world-building is great (despite the absence of maps), the plot well-written, and characters whom anyone who loves fantasy book will easily love too.