I'm a huge fan of epic fantasy, which is why I'm so thrilled to bring you a fantasy book on this Bonus Book Review Saturday!
Oblivion's Forge is the first book in the Aona series of dark fantasy novels which chronicle the struggle for supremacy between two ancient forces, and the lives of the people trapped between them as chaos grows across the known world. The younger races of Aona will all be swept up in a struggle for survival, as their ancient, malevolent masters, guardians of all the world's greatest secrets, rise to do battle with their foes, remorseless destroyers of world after world throughout the known Existence.
My Review: 3 Stars
I would have loved to give this a higher review, but I found the story VERY hard to follow. The plot was pretty solid, but the writing style and manner of presentation made me want to put the book down.
The book is VERY wordy--two out of every ten words could be cut (adjectives, adverbs, flowery phrases, etc.) and would make the book much easier to read. The pace of the book is a bit odd, and it's hard to stay in the mood of the action or slower scenes thanks to the pacing.
Inner dialogue is used a lot, almost too much. The inner dialogue communicates more than a normal person would, so it seems a bit unrealistic. There are a number of typos and grammar mistakes that make it a bit hard to read.
The author uses the "info dump" a lot. There are a lot of FASCINATING facts about the world in which these characters live, but the way we learn about them is a bit odd. The characters don't get solid back-stories until much further into the book than I'd like, but we learn more about unimportant characters and things than necessary.
In a few places, it was difficult to know whether the author was writing about the current action or some flashback the character was having. It wasn't clear, forcing me to read over it and find where it changed from present to past.
At one point, we were introduced to the person who served as a sort of villain of the book, but there was nothing about him to hint at anything more than a passing figure. I had a hard time feeling anything for the characters, as there was nothing to connect me to them. Their personalities sometimes seemed a bit disjointed, and their conversations were occasionally vague.
Big things happen with absolutely no buildup, and I felt it lacked the ups and downs that I look for in a good book.
The story definitely earned high marks--fascinating, rich, and complex--but the presentation dropped my rating down to three stars.
Here's a Taste:
Tears of rage and frustration rolled down Kian’s cheeks as she leapt up onto the window ledge and remained straddled there, one leg either side, peering into the gloom of the castle chamber, and then out into the greyish half-light of the Mirk. She dared not go any further at this point; not until she had gathered her thoughts and perhaps found herself an excuse.
Shimlock would be patiently awaiting her return. Kian shuddered as she thought of him sitting in his decayed inner chambers, neither eating nor even moving for days on end, upon his face the rictus-like smile of a man who had lived- after a fashion- too long in shadow. She was his eyes and ears to the world, but he seldom seemed to listen to any of the tales she brought back to the Mirk of events elsewhere. And in turn, the world had long since ceased to remember Shimlock, let alone any of his kin. To the people out in the surrounding lands, the Mirk was simply that: a vast swampland clad in the perpetual grey of a mist that never lifted. Perhaps it held the remnants of an old city; perhaps it did not. Maybe, like whatever lay below the waterline- and not even Shimlock himself could remember that- everything that still reached out into the mist would in time be reclaimed by the swamp.
Kian shivered and hugged herself as tendrils of fog snaked into the bare chamber. Shimlock might well be furious at her failure to bring back anything of note from Fistelkarn’s tower, depending on whether or not he was having one of his more lucid moments. He was patient enough when it came to awaiting her return, knowing that the journey there and back was a long and arduous one- but that patience would swiftly evaporate when he found out that all she had managed to bring back were the useless trinkets she had absently stuffed into her pockets before conducting her search properly.
She had always known that she would never feel entirely comfortable here in Mirkwall. She was twenty-two years old, barely full-grown for a du-luyan
, and had been brought here, according to Shimlock, by a man and woman- her parents- who had for some reason given up their child to the decrepit mage, and then either left or become lost forever in the Mirk. Kian often wondered why they had abandoned her. Had she been hideous in some way? She cautiously thought of herself as pretty enough whenever she looked into the mirrors here, but perhaps she had been less becoming as an infant. From what she knew, it happened quite often that ugly children grew up to be pretty whereas those blessed with looks in their first years might easily become plain as they matured. And she knew du-luyan
to be a proud, vain people; she might not have grown up amongst her kin, but she had met a few of them.
Kian sighed; this was far from the first time she had pondered the matter, and it would not be the last, but the answer seemed as remote as ever.
She thought briefly of the people who had disturbed her and ruined her chances of leaving Fistelkarn’s tower with anything useful. She had never seen du-luyan
and humans together before, and certainly not du-luyan,
humans and luyan
all together. That was especially odd. She was sure that someone had once told her that the luyan
were supposed to be the enemies of her race, but could not recall who it had been, except that it had been a human woman. Human folk all seemed to think themselves experts in everything- certainly they held opinions on everything- but Kian reckoned they were no better than average at most things.
She had often contemplated never returning to the Mirk, and instead spending the rest of her life wandering, and learning more about the world. Only the thought of what Shimlock had done for her- he was terrifying, otherworldly even, but he had
raised and protected her- kept her from doing just that. She had no idea how old he was- he said centuries- but he was growing more and more frail in the twilight of his long life. Looking into those haggard features, Kian would have said he had bought more years, more decades even, than his body would allow, using whatever strange forces he called upon to prolong his dismal life. In her gloomier moments she sometimes wondered why he persisted at all, in the grey silence of a mostly-abandoned fortress, and she had no idea whether he would last another month or another year. Perhaps, to a point, it was up to him.
His temper- weaker though it had been of late- worried her, but nowhere near as much as the creatures
that she had seen, or glimpsed at the periphery of her vision, around the castle. Creatures that were there one minute and gone the next, shadows flitting away before she could figure out what they were. Shimlock denied that they existed, and would say no more about them.
On very rare occasions she had caught a proper glimpse of one or two of them, and wished immediately that she hadn’t; these were odd, constantly shifting shapes that looked like long, voracious worms, glistening deep red, moving with a deadly grace and horrifying speed.
Kian took a deep breath, willing herself into the castle chamber and then down the long, lonely corridors in search of her stepfather. Once, Shimlock had told her, these passageways had been grand and opulent, and men and women other than himself had wandered their lengths. Kian had asked what became of them, but Shimlock could not remember, or perhaps chose not to. The Mirk takes us all in the end,
he had said with bitterness. Whatever we do, and for however long we persist.
About the Author:
Simon Williams is an author of fantasy, science fiction and speculative fiction. He is based in the UK. His first book for children and teens, "Summer's Dark Waters" was published in 2014 and a sequel is planned for late 2015. His Aona dark fantasy series is comprised of three books published so far with a fourth due out in February 2015. A fifth and final volume in the series is also being written.
My UK friends, find it here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Oblivions-Forge-Aona-Book-1-ebook/dp/B0082XW04G/
While those of you in the US can get your hands on it here: http://www.amazon.com/Oblivions-Forge-Aona-Book-1-ebook/dp/B0082XW04G/
Visit his website at: http://www.simonwilliamsauthor.com
Tweet at the author: @SwilliamsAuthor
Or hit him up on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Simon-Williams/167649143291810