A striker prototype has been torn from the hands of its young wielder and cast into a ripple of space. The consequences could be devastating. Amot, the scout who lost the powerful sword through his own reckless behavior, needs to redeem himself and restore the honor of his Kith brotherhood.
Queensmen of the Royal Quarter, alongside Kith rangers, mobilize the all-female Order Valkyrie and partake in a recovery mission. Together they must traverse a dangerous territory occupied by Wulvers and wicked spirits, all the while keeping the Kingdom of Harrow in check. But the mission goes awry. The party is scattered, the weapon altered by a mystical beast of the forest, and the blade’s powers bent to a greater purpose. Amot’s path turns to one of deception, carnage and betrayal. A path from which he may never return.
Like its predecessor, Reforged is distinguished by its author’s inventive zeal and what seems like a deep love for—and slight impatience with—the familiar beats of fantasy stories. Again Sprague invests energy in vivid description: those gryphons boast “giant-sized beaks ... wickedly hooked and perfect for tearing into flesh,” while the forest’s spirit denizens, whose “Treesong” language Amot must master, growl out dialogue like “Shut yer hole, y’old snag.” Sprague’s worldbuilding and factional politics can be complex, but the author understands that none of that matters without a ripping yarn to tie it all together. In Amot’s quest and uneasy alliances—including with a lupine “Wulver”—Sprague has crafted one, letting the narrative only occasionally get bogged down in exposition or fantastical detail.
Of course, for many fantasy fans, such detail is more feature than bug, but in this case Sprague mostly keeps up the momentum and the danger, especially when Amot and company take on the worst that their enemies and the Whisperwood can muster. Sprague’s adept at scenes of heroes strategizing and even displays a prankish wit in surprising perspective chapters. This is a more inviting book than its predecessor, though the series is best read in order.
Takeaway: This memorable fantasy sequel embraces and challenges the expectations of lovers of the genre.
Great for fans of: Gene Wolf, Shanna Germain’s The Poison Eater.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-
“A QUEST IN AN UNFORGIVING WILDERNESS… THE INTRIGUE NEVER WAVERS.”
"The dangers of Whisperwood prove peculiar, memorable, and even funny... In the end, this wild country is well stocked with enticing developments and not just genre clichés."