In a world where magic and the sword rule and dragons are forgotten, a band of friends find each other but can they overcome their own fears and trials in time to fulfill their destiny? Their adventure begins in The Sword and the Flame: The Forging. Before a weapon can be used, it must be forged in the fires of life.
I’d picked this one up during last year’s Virtual Fantasy Con 2016, and haven’t had a chance to read it yet thanks to life getting in the way. By the time I managed to read through, I knew it was fantasy, but couldn’t remember exactly what had attracted me to pick it up. So, this was a blind jump.
I’ve long admitted to being a Dungeons and Dragons fan, so I’m not sure how well the world building is actually done. For those familiar with the RPG game, it’s all familiar territory which may cover any minor gaps. However, with that said, there’s enough sketched in up front to help the reader quickly get an idea what’s around them as well as a basic understanding of the political system in place. Nothing too unusual in this area.
This is where CP Bialois shines brightest. A quick sketch of the main cast of characters, so you know who everyone is. Felt similar to sitting down for a new campaign with freshly made characters – a few basics to let everyone get acquainted, then the action starts to develop the characters from there. Even though this felt heavily influenced by the game system, there was no obvious gaps as the characters developed, like you’d see in a normal game. Each of the characters learned, or drew from previous training, as the story progressed which was a refreshing change. (I’ve run into a few other tales that draw from a game system, and you can tell when the characters “level up” – personal pet peeve of mine.)
The pace of the tale is steady to fast, though not completely breathtaking. Again, it felt like a well planned campaign – each sequence of events had a naturally engaging ebb and flow, a little tweak of tension here or a touch of down time there. I did run into a couple of minor jumbles where a scene slightly overlapped view points – once was a night scene and one set of characters played through the entire scene, then the second set came upon the scene slightly before it “ended” for the first. I distinctly remember that one because I had to go back and re-read a page or two to figure out who was where doing what. (Of course, I could also have been getting lost due to being tired – though this was early on, so I doubt that.)
I’m an admitted gamer geek, yet there’s a few things here that pull the overall rating down. As such, a solid 4 out of 5 is what I’ll give this book. I don’t know if I’ll go back and re-read or not, which would be about the only thing to push the rating up. However, I do look forward to finding the next book in the series and reading through it.
If you like Dungeons and Dragons, or the newly emerging LitRPG genre, then you’ll very likely enjoy this story. All the familiar, and expected, RPG elements are present, which is a lot of what leads me to knock the final star – for me, the story’s too predictable.
If you enjoyed the review, and are interested in reading further, you can find The Sword and Flame: The Forging on Amazon Here.
Until next time, keep the pages turning.