Finalist, 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
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.
Disclaimer: I received a free ebook of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.
It’s no surprise that I was drawn to this book immediately, considering it’s fusion of fantasy and science-fiction elements, it’s excellent world-building, and its awesome protagonist named Vic (short for Victoria). But I’ve been burned by free ARCs before. I’m so pleased to report that this novel met all expectations, and in many cases, far exceeded them.
The world of A Wizard’s Forge is a high fantasy setting solidly rooted in science-fiction. The concept of a planet inhabited by people thousands of years past colonization is used to great effect by the author. The main character, an oral historian for her people, is viewed as a heretic by people in another part of the world where history has entered the realm of mythology. At one point later in the book, I even had a few moments of wondering whether Vic’s certainty regarding the past was real or not, despite the logic of a colony ship vastly outweighing the origin belief of magic trees.
Which leads me to the next thing I loved about this novel. An author who makes me question the logic of their world-building hasn’t done a very good job. An author who makes me question philosophical elements of their world-building as if I’m a member of that world, on the other hand, truly impresses me. The main character in this novel is raised with one religion (very rooted in science), which contrasts deeply with that of other characters she meets (which is much more fantastical). About halfway through the novel, I was stunned to realize that I’d started to drift into the realm of the fantastical interpretation, even beginning to question the main character’s beliefs! In this way, both the world and the characters of The Woern Saga are incredibly three-dimensional and well thought out.
All of the secondary characters in this novel shine, both allies and villains. But Vic truly deserves to be the star of this show. While I’d love to at some point take a more in-depth look at some of the other characters, I never once thought “I’d rather be reading about them right now, instead.” In many ways, Vic follows the traditional hero’s journey in this book, but the author takes it in some surprising directions. Though I was consistently surprised, Vic’s actions never ventured into unbelievable territory for me. Another excellent balancing act by the author.
On a final note, some readers may be turned off early in the text by some of the tribulations Vic goes through. “Oh great, another female character whose entire motivation for character development is based in sexual assault.” Yes… and no. That is a shallow reading of a what eventually becomes a very nuanced experience that informs much of Vic’s character and actions throughout the rest of the novel, and probably the trilogy as a whole.
A Wizard’s Forge is a fantastic ride, and I hope lots of readers give it a shot and join me for the rest of the story.
Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars.
I would like to thank Netgalley and Wise Ink Creative Publishing for providing me with “A Wizard’s Forge” for free, in exchange for a honest review***
A. M. Justice carved out a jewel from her work in A Wizard’s Forge. This story is a twist of Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty works and Anne McCaffrey’s Pern works. We get darkest from certain characters; however, they don’t believe what they are doing is wrong. When things get to hard it moves to a lighter topic.
Victoria but Vic to her friends is a strong female character you are rooting for from the start. Everything that is thrown at her just makes her stronger. This book kept me wanting to know more. I couldn’t get enough of it. Even at the end, cliffhanger that it was, I wanted to read it again just because I could.
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
I have mixed feelings about this book.
It started off fantastically, it was engaging and gripping and I couldn’t put it down!
But then it started to feel like it was being dragged out, maybe because the way the story was written made it feel as though it fell into two distinct parts. The last 15% was almost a chore in the end, I felt like I was forcing myself to read it. Perhaps it has something to do with Vic having four new beginnings within this story with a massive shift in the middle? Or maybe it was because I was as scared as Vic about the finale and what would happen! (Note from right after I finished: ‘The book has ended and my tummy is still in knots, what’s going to happen next?!’)
I’m tempted to say that there are a few things I’d have done differently with this story where it mine, but then I’m not enlightened with the end destination, so I could be completely wrong!
This world was an interesting mix of magic and science and I look forward to finding out just how they integrate into each other in future books, I do so like merges like that. I’m especially curious about how a myth also seems to be a prophecy…That should be some clever stuff.
I’m not sure how I feel about Vic as a whole, I understand she’s suffering from PTSD but, at the end there, it seemed like she was deciding to do something stupid. I hope she doesn’t/those around her don’t let her be an idiot because I think in so doing it will distract so much from the storyline (or certainly it will distract ME). I also really hope that what could be a love triangle isn’t, though I guess there maybe one in the future according to legend (sigh). While what was in this book had as much purpose as it ever can, it still ended up being bothersome and I hope we’ve reached the end of that kind of shenanigans.
When I got to the end I was somewhat confused because we haven’t quite reached the end of this little bit here, for all it dragged, The End is in an interesting non-place and not at the conclusion of this story.
However, on closer thought, there was a sort of completion of events which could be why this book ended here, especially as this seems to be more the story of Vic herself rather than this whole world. Which might not sound like a revelation, generally books focus on the one person, but not quite like this one. I don’t know that I’ve seen one like it.
It’s through Vic that we’re introduced to three/four/five different cultures on this planet. I liked the diversity of each, though some more than others. I wonder what else Vic will introduce us to, because if what I’m seeing foreshadowed is actually going to happen, she’s got a whole bunch more places to go!
Lorak was horrid. Horrid, horrid, horrid.
He was meant to be of course and he was very good at it too.
I wonder at his motivation and what exactly he thought he was doing. I also wonder at his choices. He clearly thought himself justified and boy do I hope he gets his comeuppance. But then he’s also dangerous so maybe they should just kill him quickly and have done with it, even if we never find out his twisted reasons.
I do like Ashel. Not your typical prince, he seems to have a big heart and I hope it stays that way. He wasn’t what I was expecting when I first met him and he reminded me so much of the bards of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar and I have no idea why as there are few similarities, barring the obvious. (They play music and travel.) I liked Ashel’s development. He’s found a truth about himself now and I hope Vic doesn’t try to take that from him because he WILL take it the wrong way.
This is a story in which the damsel in distress saves herself and then proceeds to save the prince, which is simply fantastic – even if it took its sweet time.
Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite
A Wizard's Forge by A.M. Justice is the first book in The Woern Saga, a fantasy that has elements of a thriller and sci-fi beautifully knit into its fabric, a compelling tale of war, kidnapping, revenge and redemption. Many years ago, a crew of explorers got stranded on a faraway planet and formed a civilization of their own. Over the years, there have been wars, marauders, slavers and warriors. The young Logkeeper, Victoria, falls prey to kidnappers who sell her into slavery. As a slave, she experienced all forms of torture, including sexual abuses and other forms of psychological trauma. She was named Kara by her ruthless Master, Lornk Korng. When she successfully escaped, she did so with a vow to avenge herself. Would she get her chance for revenge?
A Wizard's Forge is a masterpiece and readers will love the way A.M. Justice explores her characters. Victoria is very compelling. Her experience of slavery completely transforms her and she develops a powerful zeal for revenge. But there is something else that happens to her — she loses the courage to love because she is continually haunted by the gruesome experience of being held prisoner and violated. Her decision to save the prince when he gets captured is an act of bravery that marks a turning point in her journey towards self-giving and inner freedom.
This is a wonderful tale with a mesmerizing setting and a fantastic plot. The author has a powerful imagination that brings to life actors that readers can easily relate to. There is a lot of action throughout the story and it reels with great intensity. The complex, intricate plot will have the reader turning the pages. This is one of those books that keeps readers awake into the late hours of the night. It is spellbinding.
Review: I’m just going to start this review by saying that this book was amazing!
It had a little bit of everything that I crave in a fantasy novel. There was adventure, betrayal, romance, magic, a strong female lead and we also got to witness that same leading female overcame some very tough challenges.
This book conjured up some very intense emotions because a lot of the content that’s present is very gripping and intense. A Wizard’s Forge definitely isn’t for the faint of heart and, just as a warning, violence; mental and sexual abuse; and physical torture are all present. These things are, at times, explained in detail, so you might want to prepare yourselves.
A Wizard’s Forge is set in a fictional world, called Knownearth, and our leading lady, Victoria of Ourtown, is a Logkeeper in one of the many towns that exist on Knownearth. As a Logkeeper, it’s her job to, first, learn and remember her ancestor’s travel logs and to, second, travel to different towns on Knownearth to spread that knowledge around. It’s up to her to make sure that that knowledge is never forgotten, but on one of her stops, she runs into some trouble. She and a dozen other young adults are all taken by pirates and sold into slavery.
The whole slavery selection/examination process reminded me of a scene that I saw in “12 Years a Slave.” The way that Vic and the others were examined was very disgusting and degrading. They had them strip down so that they could rummage through their hair, feel all in their mouths and they even examined their bone structure. It was like they were animals and they were looking for lice or some type of disease, but Vic’s examination was the worse.
They completely felt her up. She was nude, which is humiliating enough on its own, but the examiner had her hands all over Vic. She even took it upon herself to openly grope and test the sensitivity of a certain area of Vic’s body. I felt so bad for her while reading this. That scene alone would’ve did me in, but she made it through only to have to endure so much worse.
Vic ends up being sold as a sex slave to a very prominent man in another part of Knownearth. His name is Lornk Korng and he is the Lord of Relm (Relm being the city that he rules). That man was the very definition of a monster and he did a number on Vic. I had never really read too many books that involved abuse, but this book was intense. He really messed her head up to the point that I struggled following her thought process.
She, eventually, escapes and ends up in the hands of another royal family, but even though she wasn’t physically with Lornk, he still stuck with her.
If I’m being completely honest, their relationship confused me. I didn’t understand her position because there would be times when she’d crave his touch, but then she would snap out of it and hate him again. She was fighting with the person that she was and the person that he tried to turn her into. She spent the whole book doing that and, if I’m understanding everything right, it was the abuse that she endured by him that made her crave his touch. His influence almost took root and she spent a lot of time trying to keep it from completely taking over.
Vic did make a huge 180 degree turn from the person that she started out as. In the beginning, she was very meek and quiet. She was teased a lot, so she didn’t really have any friends, but by the end of the book, she made an incredible transformation and I don’t think it would’ve happened without the royal family of Latha. They made her into a legend and even though I know the queen had her own motives for doing what she did, she still helped Vic discover her own identity. Speaking of the queen, I’m skeptical about her and her motives as well because I think she has a hidden agenda. Nothing was revealed in this installment, but I’m sure, if there’s something to reveal, it’ll come out eventually.
There was also quite a bit of secondary characters (Bethniel, Ashel, etc.) and I think they assisted her, physically and mentally, throughout the duration of this novel. In a way, they acted as her family and she wouldn’t have made it too far without them.
There was some romance between Vic and two other guys, but it was only a couple scenes and they didn’t get very far. But, by this being the first book of the series, I think it’s just meant to start everything off, so I hope we’ll be seeing more romance between Vic and her chosen beau in later books.
I also want to point out that the concept of love in this book was a little confusing because each race had a different way of dealing with love and, at times, it was a little hard to keep up. They also had different ways of communicating, but I think I did pretty good with keeping up with that.
Ms. Justice presented a lot of detail in this book about Knownearth and its citizens, so I sometimes suffered from information overload, but I just couldn’t stop reading. I would just re-read the paragraph and keep going. The different views on love; the different ways of communication; the different species and their characteristics; and the different powers that the citizens could process was a lot to handle at times, but if you keep pushing through, it’ll all stick.
Overall, this book was really good and I highly recommend it. Even though I had to re-read a couple paragraphs to fully understand what was going on, I still enjoyed the adventure that this novel took me on.
I thought that Vic was a worthy hero. She definitely had a lot of things that she needed (or needs) to take care of, but I can’t wait to see where Ms. Justice takes her and her friends in the next book. This book flowed very well and it kept me interested. I enjoyed all the characters (yes, even the villain) and I can’t wait to read book 2.
Two Nerds Talking received an advanced review copy of this book. This in no way affects our opinion….we’re honest guys after all….
A Wizard’s Forge is an origin story relating the genesis of the character Victoria, the protagonist of this novel.
As protagonists go, Victoria is complex character, beginning her life as a scholar before an unexpected transition to slave and mistress, but after seizing an opportunity to escape, transitions once again to badass war hero.
Author A.M Justice paints an incredible picture of a fantasy world that has its roots in science fiction. In fact, I’d love to see more of the world depicted in this novel, particularly some prequel stories to give us a deeper background into Knownearth.
Usually in books with a larger cast of characters, many of them become two-dimensional, hard to discern from others…I’m very happy to say that this is most definitely not the case in this book with each of the characters being wonderfully vibrant and very relatable.
Being of the male persuasion myself, I’m probably not the target audience for this book, that said I have to say I enjoyed it immensely and can’t wait for a sequel.
TNT Score 4/5