Seven Forges had been described somewhere as being a good, recent fantasy novel. You could call it Game of Thrones-lite, but it’s probably better to compare it to that series most obvious predecessor: Glen Cook’s Black Company novels.
Now, this novel doesn’t have the realpolitik, medieval brutality of Martin’s novels nor the baroque, cynical exoticism of Cook’s fantasy world, but it’s a decent, if lesser, substitute for those folks waiting The Winds of Winter.
The world is imperfectly realized, which has been a disappointing and recurring theme in the fantasy I’ve read lately (Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice, which I read but somehow neglected to write about; also, The Reluctant Swordsman). World building is such a critical part of sci fi and fantasy and, so often, you see excessive world building at the expense of everything else), so this… different.
The characters grow on you. I didn’t real like any of them, at first. One of them, who will clearly become more important (this is the first in a series) named Andover, I still don’t have any feel for.
But, I was still hooked. There is a face of semi-human, super soldiers who magically graft metal onto their body when they’re hurt, which turns their skin grey. And there’s some indication that, beneath the veils they always wear, they have very ugly faces. When reports of this race attacking distant lands are heard, the word ‘demonic’ is used to describe their (apparently unveiled) faces.
There’s a nicely sardonic, semi-immortal wizard and an interesting fellow – a career soldier named Merros, who became one of those characters who grew on me – who will most likely be the heroes of the series. Except, so far, there haven’t been any significant ‘bad guys.’ The obvious bad guys (or, at least, obvious towards the end of the novel) are likable fellows, really.
So, I will probably indulge in the services of the DC Public Library system and get the sequel.