Review of A DARKNESS FORGED IN FIRE by Chris Evans (see his website)
BOOK ONE OF THE IRON ELVES
Pocket, July 2008
For the elves, the highest calling is to become a soldier in the Long Watch. Those warrior-elves serve as eternal guards against the Witch-Elf whose twisted forest digs deep into the earth providing her with horrible power--and who seeks to extend her reach through the entire world. Not all elves are welcome, however--especially those with a touch of darkness. For them, there is no Long Watch. For them, becoming an Iron Elf, working for the Empire, is the best they can hope for. Now, though, the Iron Elves have been disbanded--because their colonel, Konowa, murdered the Empire's viceroy. That the viceroy was a traitor working for the Witch-Elf is not really an issue.
With magic stirring and rebellion causing danger to the Empire, Konowa is called up once again, demoted to major, and made second in command of a newly constituted Iron Elf legion--a legion in which he happens to be the only elf. Nominally commanded by the crown prince of the Empire, the new Iron Elves are the rejects of the rest of the Empire's armies. Yet only they can stand in the way of rebellion--and what it means to the Witch-Elf's plans.
Author Chris Evans creates an intriguing world where battling against evil doesn't necessarily mean fighting on the same side. The tree-based magic system is consistent with the Tolkien tradition of elves, while providing a richness of its own. The Long Watch definitely brings George R.R. Martin's Song of Fire and Ice to mind--while having its own magic as well.
I was impressed by Evans' first novel--DARKNESS combines political intrigue, military tactics, magic, various races and histories, and a complex world of politics and conquest into a fascinating whole. I would have liked to see more of a goal from Konowa, the scenes from Alwyn's point of view don't add as much to the story as I would have liked, and I felt that the whole issue of Kritton didn't really come together (setup for a next volume or a new author not sewing up loose ends). Still, for all its minor flaws, DARKNESS is an intriguing and high-potential start for a new author.
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