Author: James A. Moore
Series: Seven Forges #4
Publishing Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Angry Robot
Edition: (I got an ARC at Netgalley for an honest review)
The City of Wonders has been saved by nearly miraculous forces and the Silent Army is risen, ready to defend the Fellein Empire and Empress Nachia at any cost.The power that was hidden in the Mounds is on the move, seeking a final confrontation with the very entities that kept it locked away since the Cataclysm. Andover Lashk has finally come to accept his destiny and prepares to journey back to Fellein. The Sa’ba Taalor continue their domination over each country and people they encounter, but the final conflict is coming: The Great Wave of the Sa’ba Taalor stands to destroy an empire and the Silent Army prepares to stop them in their tracks.
Caught in the middle is the Fellein Empire and the people who have gathered together on the final battlefield. The faithful and the godless, the soldiers and killers alike all stand or fall as old gods and new bring their war to a world-changing end. Some struggles are eternal. Some conflicts never cease. The Gods of War are here and they are determined to win.
The series is massive in scale with a bunch of POVs. There are two factions so to speak (the Sa’ba Taalor and the people of Fellein), and it's hard to choose a side even though it's easy to tell which one is easily the aggressor (and therefore you must go against). Everyone has a role to play and they get to shine even in the most unlikely circumstances. In their own way, everyone could be a hero if not already a hero. If James A. Moore were a coach, he's the kind of coach who can make all of his athletes score a goal no matter what position they're in. That's how great he is in shaping his characters.
As it turns out, it's not the first time that Canhoon took its flight from danger (but of course). In war, that sounds like a great cheat. I thought that's way too easy for a resolution. But then of course, just because the city is flying does not mean that the Sa'ba Taalor will just wait in idle until the city has chosen for a place to land nor will the people of Fellein. There are mouths to feed and the cold to fight with.
After nearly ten minutes the man came back. “We wish to join you and follow Durhallem.” Tusk leaned back a bit more. “Repeat that."
I thought that was the funniest part of the book. I can't help myself laughing. Imagine, you go on killing everybody who is not one of your own and then suddenly, you come across people who wish to convert. But then, how about you apply that in real life?
So yes, that was a funny surprise. Pretty much everything that happens is anticipated that I fear how the author would finish the story. Will it end in grave brutality where one side is gone for good? Will the rest just have to convert (see above)? If they agree finally on a parley (remember The Blasted Lands), what will happen on the losing side? Will it end in a way-too-peaceful-way-after-all-the-killings way? Redundancy is intended.
Most of the long epic stories I read (spans about six books per series) ended in a pacifistic manner as if the death toll was for nothing. Not that they're bad, it just amazes me how authors could pull off those kind of endings. James A. Moore didn't fail on that regard. I sort of expected it but what happened was never anticipated. No, there's no deus ex machina scenario here not because the Gods had been involved right from the start but because all devices used were laid out right from the first book.
I'm amused that as if there's a nod to A Game of Thrones where the emperor/empress will never be able to sit comfortably in the throne due to the throne's deliberate design. But that's not all. If you had read The Lord of the Rings trilogy, you'd remember Aragorn entering a battle scene with an army of the dead behind his back. In Peter Jackson's film, they're spectral beings in colored green. You'll see something like that in this book, only having reanimated corpses with spectral swords or what I was made to believe.
Raising the dead is not surprising for this series. We saw them in action on the previous book, City of Wonders. The only reason I'm reminded of LoTR was because a certain character, Callan, who recently lost his ship and crew came to the aid of voodoo-like people (they're black and have their own way of magic centered around death). In wanting to avenge his crew and for the people of Louron to avenge their dead, they help each other and boy was I surprised how it ended.
Sure there are lots of surprises that I have to delete four paragraphs, lest this review overflows with spoilers. Now, let's move on to other characters.
From City of Wonders, I thought there would be a budding romance between Tega and Drask. And I'm still shipping that! Reading halfway on Seven Forges (I'm referring on the very first book, not the entire series), I was in a dream where I was Andover Laksh trying to please the Gods. Sure I like Andohver but I thought Tega could be for someone else (cue inner child: because Andover betrayed her!).
What surprises me though was how fickle my feelings are. For years, I tend to avoid having insta-love on the first awesome character introduced in a book so I might not miss out on another. From Seven Forges, Drask was cool; he's calm (but way too deep). So then I chose team Tuskandru (he's funny with a devil-may-care attitude). But right from the very first chapter of this book, I feel giddy at the mere mention of Drask.
I can't believe that for the entirety of this book, I was busy fangirling on Drask! I was almost tempted on changing my Xbox gamer tag for $10 to his name. His whole name, Drask Silver Hand fits perfectly on the limit of 15 characters (sans the spaces of course). Oh God no, that was my idea. Don't change yours!
This line by Andover struck a cord with me:
Tega, what has happened is what has happened. The past is gone. I was not the same person then. I was much weaker. I lived and breathed and hid in fear. That time is gone. I fear nothing. I have faced my fears and learned from them. The gods gave me that.
Well, that's some deep reflection there but if there's one lesson you can learn from this book, it's "Thou shall not underestimate a character no matter how minor or ridiculous he seems to be." Not that I underestimated a character but I'd been rooting for this particular character from the previous book and I was dismayed with what the author did to him (like what Tarryn Fisher did to Noah Stein) until he got his turn to shine. He didn't get his POV on that part but I appreciate it greatly that he had this redeeming image from other characters. I love what the author did there. It's amazing that James A. Moore didn't fail me.
On the other hand, I found it funny that there's a transexual here whose transformation is clearly not his choice. Right, being a transgender is not a choice for one is simply born but transforming physically is. We know that the Sa'ba Taalor fully accept whatever their gods, the Daxar Taalor give them may it be a task or gifts for if they don't, they might turn into a mount which we've learned in City of Wonders. By the way, hounds are also introduced in this book.
Now, let's pause for a minute here and differentiate between a mount and a hound. The freshly anointed who failed the Daxar Taalor were made into the equivalent of hounds. On the other hand, to my understanding, mounts are really strong Sa'ba Taalor who simply refuse their gods. There are seven of the Daxar Taalor. As a Sa'ba Taalor, you can choose which gods you're going to be loyal to but if a god asks for you, you must never refuse, you simply follow. There are only two distinguished Sa'ba Taalor who were called upon by all of the Daxar Taalor and in my giddy mind, they're both fighting over Tega's affection. hahahaha
James A. Moore has covered quite a lot of issues in real life: socio-political, religious, and ethical aspects. Seven Forges is simply a fictional story but I like how the world-building is plausible without engaging a suspension of disbelief. With various aspects covered, I got nothing to complain. I don't even have a single issue on the magical system unlike other books where I have a lot of questions. Things are easily understandable here even though everything ended openly.
I read this book for weeks because I'm personally stumped with anything right now (my bills are hot on my trail). For this, I think there's a need for me to reread the entire series when understanding the locations is concerned. Because there's no map, I still couldn't visualize the world in this book. There are gaps on the days when I read pages of the book that when I get back to the part I last left, my memory is muddled when trying to remember where certain characters had been before. So yeah, a map would be great.
I got a lot of things to be grateful for in the Seven Forges series. One: I didn't pay a single cent for I read the entire series by ARCs alone (*evil laughter*). Two: It brought back magic in my life when I was so depressed. Three: The first book drove me to purchase a domain name the very next day after getting a copy so I will earn Internet authorship. I know I still have a lot to work for since I barely post anything on my website but I appreciate it that this series is pushing me more to work harder on that regard.
Thank you James A. Moore for such a wonderful and magical journey.