With City of Wonders, James A. Moore has gifted readers with a new fantasy classic; a sword and sorcery series that mixes magic and combat, reality and supernatural into a potent and addictive brew. Howard’s Conan, Cook’s Black Company, Gemmell’s Drenai, and Moorcock’s Elric, I am hereby placing you on notice that another series will soon be proudly sitting among you: Seven Forges, because, yes, it is that good!
Huh, you want a more in-depth review? Why? I mean, I just anointed City of Wonders as the novel that catapults Seven Forges into the upper echelon of sword and sorcery fantasy ever written. Isn’t that good enough for you? It isn’t? Okay, okay, I’ll try to expand upon my glowing comments.
As readers of the series already know, James Moore has been slowly introducing all of us to his marvelous creation the Sa’ba Taalor. These mysterious, grey skinned warriors erupted from the pages of Seven Forges , instantly stealing the spotlight from their more pedestrian human discoverers. The subsequent tale of their journey to the Fellein Empire, their exploits there, and the shadowy motives for their actions might have been more good old-fashioned fun than the usual fantasy epic, but the story definitely held the promise that epic-ness was soon to come.
With The Blasted Lands , the veil across the Sa’ba Taalor began to be tantalizingly pulled back. Brief glimpses into their hidden world and almost unearthly culture only serving to whet a reader’s appetite to know more . . . more about the Sa’ba Taalor society, more about their hidden history, more about their living gods, and more about their plans for the rest of the world. And when the story ended with a huge, earth-shattering conclusion, it was clear that book three would finally, beyond any doubt, take this series into the epic realm, giving readers what they desperately wanted: the Sa’ba Taalor at war!
City of Wonders begins immediately after the Sa’ba Taalor reveal their true intentions toward their neighbors. Empress Nachia, Sorcerer Desh Krohan, and General Merosh Dulver are suddenly confronted with their worst nightmare: A land of god-led, near super human warriors whose only goal is to wipe humanity off the face of the world, starting with the Fellein Empire!
Talk about a damn bad situation to be in.
Our trio of Fellein leaders frantically attempt to stabilize the situation, concoct a defense plan, but before they can even begin in earnest, the hammer which has been slowly crafted for a thousand years in the Seven Forges starts to fall. Sa’ba Taalor armies swarm out of the Blasted Lands. Not one, but many. Each bringing death and destruction on an epic scale. Once sacred and unconquered places are not immune or impervious to these ancient enemies returned. Even the most guarded of places not safe as the Sa’ba Taalor – now clothed in the flesh of their enemies – wreck havoc, sowing the seeds of confusion and divisiveness, as they spy and kill at will. Each thrust of the Sa’ba Taalor campaign focused on destroying the heart of the Fellein Empire; the capital city of Old Canhoon sure to fall, unless a miracle saves this City of Wonders!
Mr. Moore tells this ambitious story through numerous points of view. Returning characters such as the Empress, Merosh Dulver, Desh Krohan, Tusk, Drask, and Andover headline a chapter or two before turning it over to a new character, who shines the spotlight on a certain section of the growing conflict. And while that might sound like too much is going on, it never seems that way when reading; Mr. Moore seamlessly mixing all these view points together into a coherent narrative which captures the epic nature of continental warfare, while maintaining the perfect pacing to keep you ripping through the pages.
As for all those mysteries about the Sa’ba Taalor, many of them are partially answered in this story, but Mr. Moore very smartly and very deftly foreshadows even more to come. The gods of the Sa’ba Taalor, now revealed, only hint at their true nature, their origins, and their plans. Desh Krohan begins to open up about the distant past . . . but only what he knows of it. The secret Fellein mission to the Mounds uncovers some amazing things, but what it truly is remains an unresolved issue for the next book. And, of course, there is Old Canhoon, also known as the City of Wonders, which finally lives up to its name, promising even more magical things to come.
Honestly, not only is City of Wonders an addictive fantasy story in its own right, it is also the perfect installment in the ongoing series, one that catapults Seven Forges into the lofty sword and sorcery realm I mentioned at the beginning of this review. Serious but not grim, entertaining but not sappy, action-packed but filled with wonder, it is a fantasy which is able to convey the horrors of war without making a reader feel ashamed for finding it all so damn fun. Because City of Wonders is just that: a fun book to read, just like The Coming of Conan, The Black Company, Legend, and Elric of Melnibon.
In my opinion, the only problem with the City of Wonders is that the next book in the series hasn’t been published yet, and I have to wait months to get my hands on it. Now that, my friend, is a damn terribly thing. A real travesty, in fact.
A wonderful book about mothers and daughters, their complicated relationships and how easy it is to misunderstand each other. Three generation of women, Harriet, who has died had written a series of six best selling books, there is a rumor that a seventh exists. Professors, scholars and book, aficionados the world over are anxiously waiting for it to surface.
Eleanor her daughter who has made many mistakes, holding tight to her daughter Tilton after letting Ruth run away at sixteen. Interesting characters all the story is told by each character in alternating chapters. It is Harriet's story that I loved the most, of course her story is from the missing seventh book. Even the side characters are diverse and add much to the story. Some of these characters and places throughout the novel actually existed.
I could tell, how much the author loved these characters and it helped me love them too. Flawed for sure but all hoping for something better. Loved Tilton and her unique perspective of the world and her family. By books end I felt as if I had melted and I am very glad I read this book.
ARC from publisher.
Gutenberg ebook: Book of Wonder (1912, short stories)
Wikipedia: Book of Wonder (has list of stories)
I'd been reading so many authors gush about or at least admit being influenced by Lord Dunsany (read his full name here and you'll see why everyone abbreviates it) that it seemed time to find out why. Unfortunately I started with his novel The King of Elfland's Daughter, because it had often been mentioned in the gushing. And it was not the right book to start with (I might try it again someday, but it was a boredom DNF and those don't usually change). Happily this book gives you both an example of why, but also why it's a better book.
First it's a series of short stories, which is usually a better place to get a feel for what an author can manage. If I'd been in a DNF mood this might have ended badly, because the first story was everything that made me stop reading the Elfland novel. Except added to that is a very giggleworthy line that - I'll stop myself there because yes, it's quote time.
Story title: The Bride of the Man-Horse
I'm skipping the first paragraph, but these are the 2nd through 4th ones. "She" is mama centaur, pondering her son leaving home:
She knew that today he would not drink at the stream coming down from the terraces of Varpa Niger, the inner land of the mountains, that today he would not wonder awhile at the sunset and afterwards trot back to the cavern again to sleep on rushes pulled by rivers that know not Man. She knew that it was with him as it had been of old with his father, and with Goom the father of Jyshak, and long ago with the gods. Therefore she only sighed and let him go.
But he, coming out from the cavern that was his home, went for the first time over the little stream, and going round the corner of the crags saw glittering beneath him the mundane plain. And the wind of the autumn that was gilding the world, rushing up the slopes of the mountain, beat cold on his naked flanks. He raised his head and snorted.
"I am a man-horse now!" he shouted aloud; and leaping from crag to crag he galloped by valley and chasm, by torrent-bed and scar of avalanche, until he came to the wandering leagues of the plain, and left behind him for ever the Athraminaurian mountains.