Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Review: The Forge in the Forest by Michael Scott Rohan

When it comes to influential fantasy authors of the 1970’s and 80’s a number of names spring readily to mind. Le Guin, Brook’s, Eddings just to name a few. One of the names which doesn’t pop up too often is Michael Scott Rohan and after finishing The forge in the forest the second volume in his Winter of the World series I’m increasingly convinced that it should.

Having defeated the Mastersmith and successfully helped his friend Kermorvan raise the siege of Kerbryhaine, driving the Ekwesh hordes back Elof believed he could set off to find Kara, the woman he loves though he has only known her a few hours. However things are not as peaceful as they appeared. With the Ekwesh threat gone tension is rising between the city folk and the displaced northerners, Kermorvan is convinced the Ekwesh will strike again in a few years and the threat of the oncoming ice still lingers. Kermovan mounts an expedition to the east in search of lost cities that may or may not exist, hoping to reunite humanity against the growing threat. Out of loyalty Elof accompanies him unsure of what dangers lie ahead.

The structure of the second book follows the more traditional quest fantasy archetype unlike the first which followed Elof’s early years and focused on his growing up. We get a better understanding of the world, its history and the driving force behind the ice. The pacing is well done and avoids the periods of lag so often encountered by works using this structure. The characters are well realized, well not exactly the ‘shades of grey’ the market is clamoring for these days. They come across as real people facing some tough choices they don’t always get right. One thing I did find a bit strange is that the books are presented as parts of chronicles from an earlier age. The references to these are somewhat intrusive though and clash with the more traditional narrative that makes up the majority of the story.

Overall The Forge in the Forest continues an interesting series that too often slips under the radar. 7.5/10

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