Forged in Fire and Stars is the first book in a new series by author Andrea Robertson. It’s an epic tale set in a medieval-like fantasy world reminiscent of Game of Thrones. The story centers around a girl named Ara, who, like many young adults, both rejects and embraces her destiny: to become a great Loresmith.
The Loresmith is the mystical blacksmith of Saetlund who makes magical weapons that never fail. Charged and blessed by the Five Gods, the Loresmith creates weapons for equally mystical warriors known as Loreknights. The Loresmith, Loreknights, and the Dentroths have kept peace in Saetlund for generations. However, this peace comes to an end when Saetlund is invaded by Vokkans, people who worship Vokk the Devourer, a sibling to Saetlund’s gods.
When the Vokkans invade, they kill King Dentroth, who managed to get his twin children to safety before his demise. His actions were echoed by the Loresmith, Yos Steelring, who sent his bride and unborn child away to safety in the mountains. Yos dies in service to the royal twins escape without ever passing along his knowledge. The line of Loresmiths is no more—or so everyone thinks.
Fast forward fifteen years, and we meet Ara Silverthread, Yos’ child. She’d been raised in the mountains by her grandmother and trained as a blacksmith by her step-grandfather. She grew up on stories about the gods and the Loresmith with the understanding the mantle would pass on to her one day. At first, Ara loved these stories. She was in awe of the legend of the Loresmith, her father, and quaked at the thought of filling such huge shoes. Ara’s desire for adventure was just as strong as her fear, which kept her in intense anticipation—that faded in time. Ara’s life was quiet and peaceful, bordering on dull—nothing happened. Anticipation had turned to apathy and cynicism and, though her father was the Loresmith, he became a legend, and his life was just a bunch of stories. Ara had given up having any special abilities or calls to adventure—which is when such things begin.
Ara’s heroic quest begins with a kidnapping. The lost Twins of King Dentroth have returned to Saetlund to reclaim the throne for their line. The Saetlund people yearned for the return of the Dentroth line and all that is represents. The Vokkans are cruel and corrupt. One of the first things they did was to take away the children of survivors, destroy evidence of the old gods, and crush the hope of things ever getting better. However, all hope did not die but gave birth to rebels. This hope lives in Nimhea, a regal warrior destined to become queen and her less robust but more scholarly brother, Eamon. It is Eamon that convinces his sister they cannot regain the throne by force alone. They need the blessing of the gods. They need the power of the Loresmith. After a rocky start, Ara agrees to join twins voluntarily. She feels It would settle the question of the Loresmith once and for all in her mind. And this is the kind of adventure she always longed for as a child.
On their way to meet the rebels, the trio is joined by a cunning thief named Teth and his equally smart yet more furry companion, Fox. Despite his profession, Teth is an acolyte of the old gods. The newcomers help the trio get to their destination and bond with them along the way and decide to helo their cause. Later, a mysterious yet powerful woman named Lahvja joins their band, and the group moves forward with helping the twins fulfill their destinies as they find their own.
Forged in Fire and Stars is the first book I’ve read by Andrea Robertson, and it most certainly won’t be the last. I liked this book so much it inspired me to purchase another of her books; we’ll see how it goes. The book is the first in a series, yet each character has a distinct arc that is related to the main theme. There is a fair amount of character growth, yet there is room for more, which will fuel more books in this series. Robertson breathes life into these characters, yet there is no question that this is Ara’s story. The arcs and motivations of the others all support her or mirror her journey. There is romance, of course, but it’s more cute than cloying and I loved the vibe between Nimhea and Lahvja.
There were times where it felt as if the story was drawn out a bit, but the writing is so entertaining that it’s easy to forgive. The twist at the end was a bit clumsy. There seemed to be no clues in the first half of the book; then, they came so fast and furiously that I knew what the twist was. I was just waiting for it to happen. However, the writing was deft and moved apace, so the wait was enjoyable.
Epic fantasy isn’t usually my thing, but Forged in Fire and Stars made me a believer. The world-building was solid, and Robertson did an excellent job piecing this world together as she moved the story along. I love the characters, and I think it’s a perfect time to read a story about strangers becoming friends as they face an uncertain future together. That’s something we’ll all have to grapple with during these times.
Genine Tyson is an African-American writer who traveled East to West to settle in California for the last several years. Since obtaining her creative writing degree, she has done nothing with it except get a job and write on weekends, but things changed. Embracing her love of monsters, magic, and machines, she is working on two novels at once -because writing one isn’t hard enough—apparently. To connect, find Genine on Twitter @geninet or on her blog.