Title: A Wizard’s Forge
Author: A.M. Justice
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Genre: Science-Fiction / Fantasy
Source: NetGalley e-book
Starting strong and with action right up until the end, A Wizard’s Forge is a twisted tale of revenge at the heart of a war. It follows Vic as she is captured from her secluded hometown, subjected to sexual abuse by the Relmlord and then her subsequent escape and quest for vengeance.
Unfortunately, the plot was a bit of a mix for me. While the book started very strongly, and is well-written, it lost me about a third of the way through and once I finally got back into it in the final quarter, it was not with the same enthusiasm that I began with. Whether this was because of the mood I was in, or the book itself, it was hard to tell. I think the biggest factor was the time-jumps. I don’t mind the odd time-jump, but there were a few of them in this book and it wasn’t immediately clear that it was now a few years later, which was a little confusing.
That being said, the actual story is very good. Vic’s transformation from who she is at the beginning of the book, to who she is at the end is quite impressive, although the stages of it do leave a little to be desired. There is a fair amount of scheming in the book so, at times, you never really know who to support, especially amongst the secondary characters. The love square / trident was a little over-the-top at times, but it did work. Not to mention, when the action got going, it really got going. A Wizard’s Forge does not stray away from the violence and there is torture and death in its pages, so maybe not a book for the faint of heart.
A Wizard’s Forge, unfortunately, suffers from a case of too many characters. Due to the time jumps in the book, we are introduced to a new set of characters each time and only a few remain consistent throughout the book. This makes it difficult to get to know them, or their role in the book, and so it is difficult to care about them when something bad happens.
However, the characters we got a chance to know were well done. Vic made for a sympathetic yet powerful female lead. Ashel was relatable and, a somewhat frustrating, love interest (and my favourite character, alongside Geram) while Lornk was a creepy and horrific villain. Some of the character development was lacking due to the time jumps – I would have loved to see Vic grow through the four years she was in the army and, at times, it’s difficult to see any difference from before the jump. The after-effects of Vic’s time in Lornk’s control resonate throughout the book and, while I struggled to understand some of her reactions, these scenes are some of the more affecting of the book.
The world that A.M. Justice had created is a curious blend of science-fiction and fantasy, contrasting the society Victoria was born in, which is built around the factual logs, with the rest of world, whose heroes are wizards. This comparison was made particularly apparent by Vic’s initial disdain of the Lathan’s mythology and her gradually growing accept it. As this book takes place many years after a space exploratory expedition was stranded on the planet, it was very interesting seeing how culture developed from the few people who stayed there.
Due to the nature of the book, you get to see a lot of places in this world, from Vic’s home town to the Lathan palace to a wide stretch of desert. Each place adds a bit more to the depth of the world and I get the sense that while we do see a lot of it, there is plenty more to discover in later books, especially more about Elesendar.
A Wizard’s Forge is a book I have mixed feelings about. The start drew me in, then the time-jumps lost me. The final part of the book, where the characters we’ve been introduced to throughout the book start crossing paths and are forced into different scenarios, was what hooked me back in, although not with the same effect as the beginning. I would recommend reading this book, if just for the world that A.M. Justice has created, and for Ashel and Geram, although not for younger readers as it does include a lot of more mature and dark, themes. It certainly has a lot of potential and I imagine the sequel will be even more thrilling.
A Wizard’s Forge will be released on the 19th September 2016.