Review: ‘Soul Forge’ by Terry W. Ervin II
Summary: Young Enchantress Thereese lays stricken and silent, her vital essence sapped by the Shard Staff, and she edges ever closer toward death. Supreme Enchantress Thulease refuses to allow her daughter to fade beyond recovery.
To that end, Enchantress Thulease recruits Mercenary Flank Hawk to accompany her as she seeks the legendary Sleeping Sage, and confronts the secretive Svartálfar, known only for their magical prowess and their menacing cruelty.
But first, the mercenary and enchantress, and their stalwart company, must survive brutal beasts and ruthless nomads roaming the Southern Continent’s harsh desert. Then, the untamed wilds of the Northern Mountains must be traversed in a final bid to reach their ultimate goal–the Soul Forge.
Even if Flank Hawk and Thulease reach the mythical forge in time, can its magic revive the ailing young enchantress, whose life is somehow tied to the Kingdom of Keesee’s ultimate fate?
My Thoughts: I liked this book so much I want to go buy the first two in the series and read up on what I missed! This is the third novel in the First Civilization’s Legacy series. I was somewhat hesitant about how much of the story I would be able to pick up on, since I was reading without benefit of reading the first two, but I had no trouble getting a grasp of the characters, understanding previous events, or understanding relationships or the setting. I got hooked very quickly–by the third chapter, I couldn’t put the book down!
This novel is dominated by a cast of wonderful characters. Told in first-person from Flank Hawk’s point of view, the reader sees the other characters only through his perspective. Even so, all the characters are very well fleshed-out and detailed, and all of them are intriguing. Flank Hawk, also known as Krish, is an excellent main character. He has honor and lives by a code, but his hands are far from clean. As a mercenary, he is skilled in dealing death, and kills both people and dangerous creatures in the book. He does question some of his actions, and at times feels remorse for having to take lives, but in the end, he will always do what needs to be done. Unflinching and loyal, Flank Hawk makes for a very likable, complex character.
Supreme Enchantress Thulease, who employs Flank Hawk in her quest, came as something of a surprise to me. I didn’t expect her to be as authoritative or ruthless as she is. Since I’m introduced to the characters and story in the third installment of the series and don’t have the benefit of prior knowledge from the first two books, I learned about the characters on the go. I found Thulease to be a fascinating companion for Flank Hawk–she perhaps lives by a slightly different code, but ultimately she and Flank Hawk complement each other.
Ervin doesn’t shy away from harsh realities, either. His characters die left and right, even some characters I really liked. While not exactly thrilling, it does add an element of realism to the story. We don’t necessarily want anyone to die, but everyone knows that death happens. Given the very dangerous events taking place in this novel, it would be unrealistic for none of the likable characters to die. Death is something of a theme in this book, given that the enchantress Thereese is near death for most of it.
Other strengths of this book are the plot and the pacing. I was constantly engaged and hooked very early. I had trouble putting it aside in order to sleep! So the pacing was very well done and kept me engaged in the story and characters. The plot was also quite well done, being very interesting and full of unexpected elements that kept me guessing. There was one point when I thought I knew the outcome of the events and was surprised, and pleased, when it turned out differently.
I wish I did half-star ratings so I could give this 4.5 stars. What makes this just under a 5-star read for me is there are multiple small mistakes in punctuation, spacing, and grammar that should have been caught in the final proofread, and the last three to four chapters felt a little bit rushed. It is otherwise extremely well written. These are minor considerations, but to be consistent in my rating scheme and with previous reviews, I have to give it 4 stars.
Aside from that, I loved this book! I will absolutely be reading it again, and will pick up the rest of the series.
Book info: published 2014, 307 pages, ISBN 978-1940095189
Copy is a free paperback copy from author in exchange for an honest review.