A Wizard's Forge (The Woern Saga 1#) by A.M. Justice Book Review

Write on: Wed, 18 Apr 2018 by  in Charles' Reviews Read 5530


A WIZARD'S FORGE by A.M. Justice is a story which I was recommended and by a poster I liked on the grimdark as well as fantasy forums. It existed somewhere in the middle of my TBR pile for some time, not really making too much progress since I didn't know what to make of it. What is the story about? What is the protagonist? It's about a wizard, right? Eventually, I got around to finally reading it and I was blown away. It's so far the best self-published novel I've read in 2018 and would be definitely something I'd support for the next SPFBO.

I'm not going to lie, though, this is not going to be a book for everyone. Its central premise is going to be offputting to some people: a young woman is kidnapped from her village, made a slave, mind-screwed until she develops a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome, and then spends the rest of her life trying to deprogram herself. Along the way she becomes a gladiator, a general, and a wizard. There's nothing exploitative about the portrayal but it's a case of the character being very clearly sexually abused and it being a fundamental part of the narrative.

In this case, Vic is a young woman who starts her life on an idyllic island paradise where she's managed to spend her life studying to become the Logkeeper of the village. Like the Dragonriders of Pern, this is technically sci-fi as the humans of the world are spacefarers who crash-landed there millennium ago. They've since forgotten their origins outside of Vic's village and come to believe they evolved on the planet with the help of a local Tree God. One of the amusing things is the sci-fi premise would normally result in her having a mission to share the "truth" but every attempt she makes just gets shut down completely until she just gives up.

Vic's sixteenth birthday is rudely interrupted by the village being hit by a group of slavers who kidnap a portion of the village's teenagers. There's a brutal reality to the fact Vic is separated from her friends we get a decent time to know only to have her never see them again. She is only left to speculate on their fates before she's given to the local dictator as a concubine. He proceeds to ruin her mind by doing his best to make her fall in love with him while making it clear she'll never be free and must do what he says.

I'll avoid spoiling the rest of the book but state it is a story about her eventually getting away to become a warrior and then a wizard. The latter being somewhat glossed over but doubly funny because not only is Vic an atheist (at least in the local deities) but finds the concept of magic inherently stupid. There's just something bizarre about this world and she's finding out the full lengths of it.

I love Vic as a character and enjoyed virtually the entirety of her supporting cast. She's an interesting deconstruction of your typical YA adventuress. All skin and bones but everyone around her thinks she's a goddess on one hand--but also someone who becomes a brutal murderess while dealing with PTSD. She's a person who has mixed feelings with both the people who were enemies as well as her friends who she feels are as controlling and dismissive as her former masters.

The story has another benefit to it as well as the engaging characters as well as tough subject matter. Instead, it is a "meaty" book and that's something I recommend it for. While it is only 300 pages, there's a lot of material from various portions in Vic's life. We see her as a Logkeeper, as as slave, as a ward of the Lathan Royal family, as a soldier, and then as someone who can claim the power of sorcery. It really feels like multiple books crammed together and my only real complaint is it might have been better to focus on some of these individual portions longer.

In conclusion, A Wizard's Forge is a great novel with a lot of action and character development. I actually would have appreciated a longer focus on her struggles in slavery but that would have been a very different book indeed.

Last modified on Sunday, 01 December 2019 08:14
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.