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Hello, my name is Valorie. I have a Master's Degree in History and a license to teach-- I have been both university professor and public school teacher. Currently, I am a middle school social studies teacher. I love horror movies and spooky things. Every day is Halloween. I am also a passionate book blogger.

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Book Review: 23:27 by H.L. Roberts

Monday, July 27, 2009

Book Review: A Darkness Forged in Fire (Iron Elves, #1) by Chris Evans

Title: A Darkness Forged in Fire

Series: Iron Elves
Book Number: 1
Author: Chris Evans 
Genre: Fiction - Fantasy 
Finished: July 27, 2009 

Konowa Swift Dragon was exiled to the woods and his elite band of Iron Elves, all elves cursed with the black ear tip as sign that they are children of the Shadow Monarch, were disbanded and sent away for his killing of the former Viceroy who had fallen into darkness by serving the will of the Shadow Monarch. The Shadow Monarch, an elf, is possessed by a magic that she wishes to consume the world with, spreading her dark forest. After a few years in isolation, wandering with his only companion Jir (a bengar), Konowa is approached again by the Calahrian Empire he once served to once again become a soldier. The Red Star has supposedly fallen, which foretells the return of a magic and knowledge many people and creatures want: the current Viceroy, the Price of Calahr, and the Shadow Monarch included. Given an acorn from the elven Shadow Monarch’s Silver Wolf Oak, Konowa feels a strange power and connection to her, which he wants to use to his advantage to defeat her and her forces once again. As an elf born with a black ear tip and rejected from the birthing meadow so that he never bonded with a tree as elves do, Konowa has never felt much like an elf and was shunned for being cursed. With stories of the Red Star, old and evil extinct creatures are being resurrected, so it is imperative that someone or something stop them. Konowa is told to reband the Iron Elves, but he is not given his old elves. No, instead he is delivered a scattered section of people and races. The new Iron Elves is made up of elf, human, dwarf, and giant alike. But, committed to their service, they take the oath to serve as Iron Elves. Unwittingly, though, the power of the acorn bonds the Iron Elves to their oath such that not even death can separate them from service. Even after death their shades must serve. Unfortunately, too, for Konowa, he must act as second command to the Prince of Calahr, Tykkin. The future king of Calahr has no military experience and cares more for finding the Red Star and studying the world than properly defending it. Another source of frustration for Konowa is the elfkynan witch Visyna, who he likes but disagrees with his usage of the Silver Oak acorn and wants the Red Star for her and her people in order to liberate them from the Calahrian Empire. Plagued by nightmares of the Shadow Monarch, Konowa has a lot to worry about. 

I must say, I enjoyed this book from page one all the way to the end. My love of reading began with the fantasy genre, after all, so I will always have a very deep love for all things magical. The world that Chris Evans creates is indeed separate from ours, but parallels ours enough that I can see similarities. In the various stories of races and conquest, I see vestiges of our history and culture. For some reason, this helped me connect to the characters. Konowa is brave and handsome and a wonderful soldier, but he is a bit stubborn. As is Visyna. The drawf Private Yimt Arkhorn is loud and overconfident and his partner Private Alwyn Redwar is careful and skittish. The prince is properly clueless and the writer Rallie is obscure and mysterious. All of the characters are distinct and layered. I love it when an author can create characters that are distinct, that react just as they would and not in a way convenient to making the story easy. It is not hard at all to simply write a character, but to truly create one is a work of true talent. 

What about the story, though? A Darkness Forged in Fire is just the kind of fantasy I like-- just enough of everything without it being too much. It is full of action and the questions pile one on top of the other as the story progresses. No resolution is come to by the end, which opens way for book 2. By the end of the book, you are left with even more questions as additional stars must be sought out and kept from falling into the wrong hands. The battles are intense and full of detail, and I really got the sense that Evans knows what he is talking about as far as weaponry and battle tactics go. That sort of attention to detail and accuracy lends a lot of realism to a story. For lovers of the fantasy genre, this book will fit perfectly in a collection of quality fiction. As far as I am concerned, Chris Evans is right up there in excellence with Tolkien and Piers Anthony.

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