Disclaimer: I received a free ebook of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.
It’s no surprise that I was drawn to this book immediately, considering it’s fusion of fantasy and science-fiction elements, it’s excellent world-building, and its awesome protagonist named Vic (short for Victoria). But I’ve been burned by free ARCs before. I’m so pleased to report that this novel met all expectations, and in many cases, far exceeded them.
The world of A Wizard’s Forge is a high fantasy setting solidly rooted in science-fiction. The concept of a planet inhabited by people thousands of years past colonization is used to great effect by the author. The main character, an oral historian for her people, is viewed as a heretic by people in another part of the world where history has entered the realm of mythology. At one point later in the book, I even had a few moments of wondering whether Vic’s certainty regarding the past was real or not, despite the logic of a colony ship vastly outweighing the origin belief of magic trees.
Which leads me to the next thing I loved about this novel. An author who makes me question the logic of their world-building hasn’t done a very good job. An author who makes me question philosophical elements of their world-building as if I’m a member of that world, on the other hand, truly impresses me. The main character in this novel is raised with one religion (very rooted in science), which contrasts deeply with that of other characters she meets (which is much more fantastical). About halfway through the novel, I was stunned to realize that I’d started to drift into the realm of the fantastical interpretation, even beginning to question the main character’s beliefs! In this way, both the world and the characters of The Woern Saga are incredibly three-dimensional and well thought out.
All of the secondary characters in this novel shine, both allies and villains. But Vic truly deserves to be the star of this show. While I’d love to at some point take a more in-depth look at some of the other characters, I never once thought “I’d rather be reading about them right now, instead.” In many ways, Vic follows the traditional hero’s journey in this book, but the author takes it in some surprising directions. Though I was consistently surprised, Vic’s actions never ventured into unbelievable territory for me. Another excellent balancing act by the author.
On a final note, some readers may be turned off early in the text by some of the tribulations Vic goes through. “Oh great, another female character whose entire motivation for character development is based in sexual assault.” Yes… and no. That is a shallow reading of a what eventually becomes a very nuanced experience that informs much of Vic’s character and actions throughout the rest of the novel, and probably the trilogy as a whole.
A Wizard’s Forge is a fantastic ride, and I hope lots of readers give it a shot and join me for the rest of the story.
Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars.
Currently reading: A Second Chance (Chronicles of St. Mary’s #3) by Jodi Taylor