We do not fear the flame, though it burns us, We do not fear the fire, though it consumes us, And we do not fear its light, Though it reveals the darkness of our souls, For therein lies our power. -- Blood Oath of the Iron Elves First in a stunning debut series, A Darkness Forged in Fire introduces an unforgiving world of musket and cannon...bow and arrow...magic, diplomacy, and oaths -- each wielding terrible power in an Empire teetering on the brink of war. In this world, Konowa Swift Dragon, former commander of the Empire's elite Iron Elves, is looked upon as anything but ordinary. He's murdered a Viceroy, been court-martialed, seen his beloved regiment disbanded, and finally been banished in disgrace to the one place he despises the most -- the forest. Now, all he wants is to be left alone with his misery...but for Konowa, nothing is ever that simple. The mysterious and alluring Visyna Tekoy, the highborn daughter of an elfkynan governor, seeks him out in the dangerous wild with a royal decree that he resume his commission as an officer in Her Majesty's Imperial Army, effective immediately. For in the east, a falling Red Star heralds the return of a magic long vanished from the earth. Rebellion grows within the Empire as a frantic race to reach the Star unfolds. It is a chance for Konowa to redeem himself -- even if the entire affair appears doomed to be a suicide mission... and that the soldiers recruited for the task are not at all what he expects. And worse, his key adversary in the perilous race for the Star is the dreaded Shadow Monarch -- a legendary elf-witch whose machinations for absolute domination spread deeper than Konowa could ever imagine....
This uncomplicated series debut introduces Konowa Swift Dragon, professional soldier turned full-time cynic. Exiled for killing the brutal viceroy of Elfkyna, an appointee of the Calahrian Empire who secretly served the evil witch known as the Shadow Monarch, Konowa has spent a year wandering around feeling sorry for himself. When the Shadow Monarch threatens the empire, Konowa reluctantly answers the call back to service, furious to find his former elite regiment filled with ordinary men and commanded by the incompetent heir to the throne. With anti-empire elfkynan witch Visyna Tekoy and cigar-chomping journalist Rallie Synjyn as his unlikely allies, Konowa must retrieve the prophesied Red Star and put down a rebellion. Evans hews closely to the high fantasy template, and slyly humorous details--an elf who hates forests, a dark lord who saves babies and saplings--never quite redeem the boilerplate story and its grouchy hero. (July) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
July 06, 2008
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from A Darkness Forged in Fire by Chris Evans
Mountains shouldn't scream, but this one did.
The agony of the rock vibrated beneath the paws of a small, brown squirrel crouched low behind a boulder near the summit. The frigid night air thrummed in sympathetic harmony with the mountain, blurring the light from a shooting star trailing crimson fire across the sky. Shadows shattered and reformed, their shapes subtly altered.
The squirrel sat up on its hind legs and looked to the sky, its glittering eyes following the path of the red star as it burned across the sky toward the east. Letting out a sigh, the squirrel shook its small head; no matter how many centuries you had to get ready, prophecies always caught you off guard. The Stars were returning to the world. It was a strange thought for a squirrel to have, but not for the elf-wizard that had taken squirrel form.
Remaining transformed for the time being, the wizard dropped to all fours and leaped to another boulder a few feet higher up, stretching out his arms and legs to take advantage of the loose folds of fur between them. He landed on the next boulder huffing for breath. It was definitely easier to fly going downhill. He looked up to the mountain summit and shivered in spite of the fur that currently covered his body. A group of trees dotted the peak. And I'm just a squirrel, the wizard thought, rubbing his paws together for warmth before continuing his climb.
The wizard's tail bushed as he scampered closer to the top. With each jump the ground felt increasingly wrong. Something was changing it from the inside, and he knew what. The roots of the trees on the summit were clawing their way deep into the heart of the mountain to feed on the rock. Until tonight, they had been contained, isolated on this mountaintop where they could be controlled, if not destroyed. The falling of the Red Star in the east signaled that was no longer the case. A power not known in the world since the beginning of time was returning. Power that could either save it, or destroy it.
He concentrated on the forest, wishing he was powerful enough to wipe it from the face of the earth himself, but knowing it was far beyond him. He hoped, however, that his plan might help the one who could. All the wizard had to do was steal one small thing. And survive. It's why he had transformed himself. A wizard going into this forest would never return. A squirrel, on the other hand, had the slimmest of chances of surviving by going unnoticed.
The wizard paused again in his climb to catch his breath, watching it turn to mist and rise in the icy air, drawing his eyes to the trees that clung to the rock.
No living thing should have found a home there, yet the forest survived, its roots boring ever deeper into the rock, suckling on the bitter ore it found. Leaves turned iron-black, the wind honing them to a razor edge. Bark crystallized, growing translucent to reveal the thick ichor pulsing beneath while branches withered needle thin, stabbing down at the ground in the vain search for something fleshier to consume.
It was a forest, of a kind.
The mountain shuddered and sent chunks of rock cartwheeling down its side, as if trying to shake the forest loose. Just in time the wizard hid in a crevice until the avalanche had passed. He poked his head up a moment later and prepared to make the final dash into the trees. It didn't look promising -- arrowlike twigs splintered against rock with a sound of ringing iron as the trees now hunted among the shadows.
The wizard twitched his squirrel tail twice then darted between the crystal trunks in a wild dash for the center of the forest. Branches slashed down as he dodged and scrambled for his life.
Finally, out of breath and on the verge of exhaustion, he came to the very center of the forest.
There, on a ragged knuckle of granite, stood a silver Wolf Oak.
He knew the Wolf Oaks well, good nuts, but this one was wholly unlike the tall, majestic trees in the Great Forest of the Hyntaland on the plains below. Those trees were tall and proud, their limbs strong and supple in the nurturing sun. This tree shared none of those traits, growing low and wide across the rock, snaking its jagged limbs out in every direction to ensnare its progeny in a thicket of wild, dark hunger. Glinting, obsidian-shelled acorns covered the ground beneath it.
The forest was expanding.
The wizard felt the sudden urge to get off the ground and climb somewhere high. He looked at the trees around him and decided that the ground, as polluted as it was, was still preferable. It was as he feared. Being this close to the silver Wolf Oak was taking its toll; he was starting to think like a squirrel. Wolf Oaks were the natural conduits for the raw, elemental magic of nature, and among them the silvers had no equal. This one surpassed even them.
Five hundred rings ago, this silver Wolf Oak had been a sapling cub in the birthing meadow of the Great Forest, a new, young life full of promise.