It is extremely unfortunate that I have to do this, but I am hosting Booknest’s reviews for the foreseeable future in regard to SPFBO. Their site was hacked and has not yet been reinstated, so in the meantime, they will have placeholders here 😀
This review is by Jordan Loyal Short
Fire of the Forebears is a classic take on epic fantasy. Its pages are full of harrowing escapes, desperate sword fights, mystical creatures, and powerful magic. Despite a slow start, the plot eventually sunk its teeth into me and kept me following the adventures of its female lead as she struggled with concepts like faith, destiny, and duty on her way to saving the land from a gathering evil.
The characterization also took a while to develop, in my opinion. While I eventually came to see the heroine as a fairly-well realized character, her male counterpart, Triston, always felt pretty generic to me. In general, there are a lot of secondary characters who come and go and some of them stood out while many felt sort of interchangeable.
I enjoyed the prose and the overall style of this novel. The action and description was always clear, and relatively succinct, with solid descriptions that grounded the scenes in a way that brought them to life.
As I said in the opening paragraph, I think this story took a while to find its footing, but once it hit about the fifty-page mark, I felt I had a pretty good sense of what was going on and felt compelled to read along and discover the fate of the characters. There were several good layers of mystery that kept me turning pages, such as what were the Saja (animals corrupted by evil magic), and what really happened with the Fidelis (the mages), as well as the mystery of the villains behind it all.
The worldbuiding in this book grew on me too. The initial element we were exposed to was talking animals, which didn’t really grab me. But as the story unfolds many other fantastical pieces are added to the world, making it feel well realized and multi-faceted. Looking back, I think that the worldbuilding is the strongest part of this book. All the different factions and magic felt fleshed out and interesting.
Overall, this story had a lot of elements that weren’t well suited to my tastes. Still, there was a lot to like in this novel, and part of what is so great about this competition is discovering books that you might not have otherwise. If you love old school epic fantasy with the chosen one battling the forces of darkness then you might want to try this book. SPFBO Score 6 P.S. I’m sad to say that it has come to my attention that the author of this novel has recently passed away. My condolences to her friends and family. She was obviously a talented woman. To readers, please note that this novel was clearly intended as the first in a series and that, while the novel does offer a satisfying conclusion, the series is unlikely to continue.