A Darkness Forged in Fire
Pocket, Jul 2008, $26.00
The Calahrian Empire’s Iron Elves Commander Konowa Swift Dragon felt he deserved a hero's welcome, but instead received exile as politics has its privilege. Acrimonious, angry, and cynical he wanders in self pity feeling he got the shaft. The military brass broke up his unit sending them from rebellious Hyntaland to the south and sent Konowa off by himself with no rank. His crime was killing the vicious bloody viceroy of Elfkyna, a political appointee who secretly served the evil witch the Shadow Monarch.
With a new even nastier viceroy in place having locals killed on a whim, the Shadow Monarch grows stronger threatening the empire. Desperate for sound military leadership, Konowa is asked to return to duty to lead the fabled Iron Elves. However, he finds his unit is not the same as these are simple men not elven warriors and their commander is an idiot who is heir to the empire. His mission is to retrieve the Red Star that has allegedly fallen somewhere to the east and heralds a special magic that has returned. His allies are elfkynan witch Visyna Tekoy who like her brethren hate elves and empires, and the most untrustworthy profession of them all a reporter Rallie Synjyn. Revolt is in the air fostered by the Shadow Monarch who also goes after the Red Star.
Though somewhat by the writer’s 101 standardized book for high fantasy quest, Chris Evans uses contradictory traits to make his key cast members seem fresh and different; for instance the disgraced Konowa wanders forests, but unlike the stereotypical elven he loathes woodlands, etc. The story line is fun to follow even when the hero grumbles every step of the way. With the premise that my enemy’s enemies are my allies but still my enemies, A DARKNESS FORGED IN FIRE is an engaging saga.