Monday, April 23, 2007


Forge of the Gods, by Eric Fogle is a well written and enjoyable fantasy in which the very fabric of the spiritual realm appears to be collapsing. Heaven's inhabitants and its many minor gods are sending forth their own champions, demi-gods, dragons and mortals alike, to quest for the source of the disturbance--either to nurture it for their own power or to destroy it utterly.

I'm asking myself, "What is it that is so attractive and engaging about this story, Forge of the Gods?" The story is not a thriller and not really what I might consider action packed, although alot is going on. No, I think it is the richness of Mr. Fogle's narrative that is so appealing here! I don't by any means say this in a bad way--Mr. Fogle is not rushing himself through this story. He carefully and lovingly crafts a world and characters that feel fully developed and interesting to follow. The prose itself flows like good poetry and the conflict is multilayered and intriguing.

"Cosmic power swirled around the olthari as he moved through a pocket of nonexistence, the space in which inter-planar travel was possible. In a fraction of a second he stepped through a thin film of divinity and into the new world. The sickening feeling of winking out of existence then back wracked his body. He tried to look around but was blinded by white tracers
that blurred his vision. When his vision finally cleared, he was greeted with a horrific sight: this
place was not a mortal probability. In a dark recess of his mind, Thurm realized that this world must be directly connected to the Divine Plane. He felt godly power exuding from everything. Though he tried to rationalize it, nothing could ever describe such an abomination of life; dark swirls of chaos tore at a shattered sky, giving off a deep purplish hue. His immortal eyes viewed a world devoid of any ordered thing; misshapen trees dotted the desolate landscape, doing their best to eke out an existence. Aside from this mockery, the scorched land was free of anything that even roughly resembled life. The sight of true chaos made his skin crawl. Here the equation of the universe did not apply, time did not flow in mortal years, and balance was not achieved. By looking at the mottled husks of the trees, he knew that the equation was trying to right itself; however, only a travesty of creation prevailed. A distant sound caught his attention. Thurm gripped the shaft of his giant hammer as the wind blew the faint scream past him. The full power of the place came rushing upon him, intensifying his soul-bond with Elissandera. He was sure that she was located less than five miles to the east. It might be too late to save this world, but he knew she still lived . . . at least for the moment. He cleared his mind and set out with resolve, shaking off his uneasiness. He told himself that he needed to be steady. His goal was in sight; he was here to find Elissandera and save her if he could or release her into eternity if he couldn’t. He had decided long ago that if she needed to die, then he did, too—that if this was his fate, he would face the thing that had eluded him for so long. His resolve demanded that he die trying; for her he could not turn back. Another faint scream swept across the desolate wasteland. Thurm’s hair rose. He felt Elissandera’s soul-bond call out to him; this place seemed to magnify the essence of his people. For a moment he thought that he wasn’t alone, an oddly satisfying feeling. An impossible thought tore through his defenses could this be a parallel plane of existence to that of the divine? A pocket plane for one of the gods, he thought sourly. If that was true then hehad been summoned here for a reason, and whatever resided in this place would be unassailable by his powers. He could not win. It is a fitting punishment that the same gods who created my race will also be the ones to end our existence, he thought sadly. It was likely that if this was a divine pocket, then there was a god toying with him, which was why his quest had lingered on so long. I shall die proud, he thought, standing straight and tall. If one of the gods has summoned me here to end my life, then I will fight to the end. Thurm shook his head and banished such thoughts; he was thinking too far ahead. Whatever he faced was beyond his limited comprehension. His mind had been used against him, reminding him of old times and things long forgotten. He rubbed his perfect features and again set off toward the sound. As Thurm prepared to take a step, his vision blurred and his skin started to crawl. The feeling was followed by a distortion of his physical features, which made him stumble forward in disorientation. He was about to succumb and fall to the ground when something called out and beckoned him, blinking him out of existence and back. The summons nearly made him retch as he came crashing through the portal and staggered to the ground. “So the destroyer has finally come!” boomed a sinister voice, its mocking tone filled with unpredictability and evil. The olthari shook away the sparkling lights of his instantaneous transportation from his vision and looked around. It took him a moment to get his bearings, but he was sure that he was standing in front of a circular structure with random spires of ebony jutting up into the sky. Furthermore, he was greeted by an angel leaning against one of the columns, its features twisted into a perfect mask of chaos. It took Thurm only a moment to realize his mistake. It had been so long . . . such a distant memory of what had been . . . that he could not have fathomed what stood before him."

The pace moves at a steady constant with enough happening to keep the reader engaged and following along happily, but Forge of the Gods is not trying to be the next "thrill ride." This title comes to us from one of the newer POD micropresses on the scene, Breakneck Books. It has a very nice cover going for it and excellent interior design. There are, however, a number of grammatical errors within the book. These all revolve around extra or missing words that were somehow missed by their editor. The publisher was even surprised to find this when I mentioned it to them...this takes me back to our previous post. A final read by a fresh pair of eyeballs before the editor submits that final PDF file would do wonders for finding these mistakes.

Forge of the Gods is very enjoyable and highly recommended. Mr. Fogle has a fine literary voice and superior writing skills. However, the abundance of errors which remain in the book (darn those pesky grammar-gremlins!) keeps this title held to four stars on our scale. Now, if you enjoy fantasy greats like Tolkien and so forth then you probably will find this title very enjoyable despite the editing mistakes, because the story is still there and solid as a multi-layered spiritual plain on a chaotic convergence with a unilateral mortal plane!

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