Archive for June, 2019

So, I may have mentioned before, I read at a glacial pace, due to any number of environmental issues. (By which I mean day job, writing, children, church, etc.) Worse, when I actually finish reading, getting around to writing a review is another item that I easily procrastinate. I am, at long last, finally putting fingers to keyboard for my review of “A Wizard’s Forge” by A.M. Justice, a work with compelling characters and a very unique setting. In addition to that, the book is well written in general, with plenty of detailed description and world-building.

This tale takes place in a unique fantasy world, one based on a faraway planet inhabited by the descendants of the crew of an ill-fated space ship. The world’s legends and religion still speak of the ‘Elesendar’, and the cultures are shaped by the initial missions their founders undertook after being marooned on the planet. Many treat the old logbooks as scriptures, and our main character, Vic, is an acolyte of such an order.

Vic is, herself, something of odd duck for me, because while I quite enjoyed the book, I found Vic to often be very frustrating, though not in a bad way, more in a ‘I need to throttle this character’ way. Now, in order for that to make sense, I will need to tell you a bit about Vic, I suppose.
She starts as a scholar, one somewhat picky about her men and very focused on her work. Her life is turned upside down when she is sent on a mission for her order and subsequently captured in a slaver raid. Soon after, she finds herself the concubine of a potentate, Lornk Korng, a cruel and hungry tyrant with epicurean tastes in every field, including the sexual. Vic finds herself suddenly thrust into a world she simultaneously hates and is enthralled by. She is both fascinated and repulsed by her captor, who teaches her a variety of hedonistic ways, all in the context of her being his absolute property. He often parades her around as a toy, a sort of decoration to impress others. He is quite open with Vic about his intention to utterly own her, not just physically, but to basically possess her soul as well. He doesn’t just want her to obey out of fear, but to actually crave her position and his company, and he employs a variety of mind control techniques to bend her to his will.

This, as one might expect, does a real number to Vic’s mental state. She realizes what is happening, and wants to escape, but is torn by the knowledge that she does in fact actually desire her captor at times. Faced with impossible choices, Vic takes the only opportunity for escape she can find, one she expects to lead to a quick death.

Only it doesn’t. What it does is set her down a path she never expected, one that will lead her to a career as a ruthless soldier and, eventually, to being a powerful sorceress, but only if she can manage to get out of her own way. It’s a long trip for a skinny, bookish girl, and one with plenty of stumbles along the way.

Vic does a lot of self-sabotage, and her life would be much easier if she just made up her mind about things and charged forward, but then she would be a much less interesting character. Yes, some of that is Lornk’s doing, but Vic is herself a mercurial sort, prone to second guessing anything she can’t actually verify by looking it up in a historical text somewhere. This causes here, in several critical moments, to hesitate when she ought charge forward, and she loses out of some important matters because of this.

If I were dating Vic, I would probably move on fairly quickly. I don’t care for drama in my relationships, but it can be quite compelling in fictional. If you don’t mind the urge to slap the main character at times for being so consistent (which I not only didn’t mind, but thoroughly enjoyed), you’ll dig this book.

5 of 5 stars.