This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.A Wizard's Forge by A.M. Justice
Series: The Woern Saga #1
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Release Date: September 19, 2016
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Format: ARC, E-book
Purchase at: Amazon
Scholar. Slave. Warrior. Wizard.
On a planet far from Earth, descendants of marooned space travelers fight a decades-long war. Shy scholar Victoria knows nothing of this conflict until pirates kidnap and sell her to the sadistic tyrant behind it. He keeps her naked and locked in a tower, subjecting her to months of psychological torture. After seizing an opportunity to escape, Vic joins the fight against her former captor and begins walking a bloody path toward revenge.
As the Blade, Vic gains glory raiding her enemy’s forces, but the ordeal in his tower haunts her. Bitter memories keep her from returning the love of the kindhearted Prince Ashel, whose family has fended off the tyrant’s invading army for a generation. When enemy soldiers capture Ashel, Vic embarks on a quest to rescue him and, on the journey, discovers a source of spectacular power. With wizardry, Vic can rescue the prince, end the war, and wreak the vengeance she craves, but she might also destroy her only chance for peace.
“We do not seek to understand” the Master Logkeeper always reminded her, “only to preserve.”
Setting: Three thousand years ago a crew of mineral miners set out on a mission from Earth to the planet of Gomorrah but due to sabotage were not able to make it to their destination. With the mission a failure Captain Wong of the shuttle Elesendar was forced to make an emergency stop in the orbit of what is now referred to “Knownearth.” The crew came down to the planet to search for iron, copper and other ores so that they might be able to repair the Elesendar’s failed drives. It is assumed they were unable to make the needed repairs and settled on the planet.
Plot: Victoria, “Vic,” is from Ourtown. Since a young age she has intended to become a Logkeeper. Logkeepers are in charge of preserving every record their predecessors had from space logs, to information about their space travels and home planet. The hope with this memorization and recitation is to keep all people aware of the history and remembering equations for the precise targeting of a wormhole in case they might be able to someday use it.
Being the youngest Logkeeper ever Vic starts her job in earnest and travels to many villages to recite the logs and transport letters between communities. While staying at a town called Cairo they are attacked by pirates who are also slavers. Taken into slavery Vic and those taken with her are brought to a city called Traine to be sold as slaves. Before going into the open market she is inspected and deemed to be useful as a sex slave in the service of the Remlord, Lornk Korng.
“I’ll come to you, Lornk Korng!” she shouted. “I’ll come as Kara and I’ll spit in your face!”
After enduring months of psychological torture, forms of sexual abuse, and being forced to take the new name of “Kara,” Vic is able to escape through a teletransporter to the land of Latha. After realizing the horror that Vic has been through the Royal Family of Latha has taken it upon themselves to care for and protect her. It is not all roses and sunshine for Victoria though. She is seen as a possible spy and that stigma is a stain that is hard removed. Eventually Vic starts down the path that she feels is her destiny. That she must face in order to heal and to slake her thirst for her revenge. Like a true metamorphosis she is, was, and will be the Logkeeper, The Blade, and the Wizard.
Everything Else: At the start of this book my inner trekie was very excited! I love the concept of how a civilization could start from a crew of stranded miners. What I wish was done better was the world building. Throughout the book we encounter new lands with different cultures and there are details given to support the details of the current circumstance but I feel like I am looking at a color picture but if I peak to the sides there is blank walls or a watercolor picture that is muted and far away. I love the new world but I wish it had been fully developed.
The plot is imaginative, believable and developed. The sub-plots are there but some are not tied together. Although they are not tied together in this book, they may be carried through the series and tied together at the end. Or maybe they will not be. For me I do not mind the subplots not being tied together by the end of the first book if it is woven through the overall plot. In this instance subplots are introduced and then never spoke of again, there was no weaving, no bringing it with us while we read.
The main characters are Victoria, Prince Ashel and Lornk Korng. Victoria is wonderfully written and well developed. She starts off the story as a sixteen-year-old girl but overtime develops into a courageous young woman. Prince Ashel is very unique and developed. He has no interest in running a kingdom but serves his country through being a recorder. In Latha they use music to tell their history and Prince Ashel is one of the greatest musicians in his time. A recorder and a Logkeeper are essentially historians for their people. Lornk Korng is a villain through and through. There will be no redemption for this character. His version of breaking people down and melding them into what he wants is unique. I have not read another story yet that engages this technique. It left me thinking “would that really work in real life?” At first I felt that the answer was “no” but after pondering I felt like the answer could be “yes” and that just made it sicker. There are also multiples of characters introduced in this story. Many are static characters that support the plot but there are so many of them that it is a bit overwhelming.
From the start I found this story to be descriptive, original, and full of action. It has creative concepts and includes diverse cultures, from light skin to dark skin with no racial hierarchy. The women are treated equally to the men; both genders serve in the military and both genders are forced into the sex slave industry. There is no underlying theme that women are less than men and I applaud that! This story kept my interest engaged from beginning to the end and the cliffhanger has me hanging on! This story is about ideological differences that can shape how a civilization is molded, how rash actions of the heart can lead to unconsidered consequences, and how bravery can come from the lowest of the low. I highly recommend this story!
*Thank you to Wise Ink Creative Publishing & NetGalley for this eARC of A Wizard’s Forge*