I confess that the blurb for this book wasn’t all that appealing to me. But because I’d seen it advertised often enough in the Sci-Fi Book Club catalog, the title caught my eye at the used bookstore. I read through the first few pages, which did what a blurb is supposed to do, and I went home with Chris Evans’ debut novel. After reading A Darkness Forged in Fire, I would say it’s an impressive debut.
Aside from the occasional stumble over the jargon of this new world (a normal hazzard of the genre), Chris Evans’ prose is smooth and effective. Evans deftly demonstrates his intimate knowledge weaponry and military culture while carving some extremely sympathetic (and humorous) character gems to set on the battle’s canvas, of which Private Yimt Arkhorn and Private Alwyn Renwar shine the brightest. These two characters are so fully realized that I smelled the spice from the crute that Yimt constantly chewed and felt weight of Alwyn’s glasses as he squinted into the darkness of their night patrols. I cared deeply for them, which heightened my main problem with the book–I didn’t care about the main character. I found Konowa Swift Dragon a bit tedious and his relationship with Visyna terribly cliched. Until the final battle, I was far more interested in what almost anyone other than Konowa was doing in the story. Now since the cast is fairly large, there were plenty of intrigues to keep my attention, but it’s a shame when the hero is totally eclipsed by the supporting cast. Nevertheless, A Darkness Forged in Fire is a good read and I will continue with the Iron Elves series for love of Yimt and Alwyn and to satisfy my curiousity about RallieSynjyn.
Blurb (from the 2009 paperback edition): An unforgiving world of musket and cannon…bow and arrow…magic, diplomacy, and oaths—each wielding terrible power in an empire teetering on the brink of war.
Even in this world, Konowa Swift Dragon, former commander of the Empire’s elite Iron Elves, is anything but ordinary. He’s murdered a Viceroy, been court-martialed, seen his beloved regiment disbanded, and been banished in disgrace to the one place he despises the most–the forest. All he wants is to be left alone, but then an unexpected royal decree orders him to resume his commission as an officer in Her Majesty’s Imperial Army, effective immediately.
For in the east, a falling Red Star heralds the return of a long-vanished magic, and rebellion is growing within the Empire as a frantic race to reach the Star unfolds. It is a chance for Konowa to redeem himself–but the entire enterprise appears to be a suicide mission…and the soldiers recruited for the task are not quite what he expects. Worst of all, his key adversary to obtain the Star is none other than the dreaded Shadow Monarch, whose machinations for absolute domination spread deeper than Konowa could ever imagine.
First line: Mountains shouldn’t scream but this one did.
I would recommend this book to: Anyone is looking for a new fantasy series to explore with a convincing blend of military and magical warfare and a couple of delightful comrades in arms.
Would I read it again: Maybe.
My personal rating: 3 out of 5