Synopsis: Scholar. Slave. Warrior. Wizard.
Victoria believes she’ll live a scholar’s quiet life until the tyrant Lornk Korng rips away everything she knows and loves. Forging herself into a warrior known as Vic the Blade, she strikes fear into her enemies, but she cannot escape Lornk’s obsession. A legendary power may be her only chance to destroy him, if it doesn’t kill her first.
Author: A. M. Justice
Title: A Wizard’s Forge
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
A Wizard’s Forge has been sitting on my Netgalley shelf for ages and I’ve only just got around to it.
After the first chapter, I wasn’t certain what to expect: Vic had an air of arrogance around her, a naïve perspective on her surroundings and a sense of entitlement because of her knowledge. This first chapter skimmed through events, clearly setting up the rest of the story, and didn’t allow any depth or connection to the characters.
The next few chapters also made it impossible to connect to Vic. Sold into slavery, she is slowly broken by her new owner; his twisted methods make her physically crave him as he gets inside her head, turning her into an obedient clock-work doll with only one thought: pleasing him to give him what he wants.
After that, however, the plot and the characters really start to develop.
Whatever pat Elesendar intends you to walk, you’ll walk it as one of us. Standing on trembling knees, Vic went to the washbasin and scrubbed her face. “Time to find the path,” she said when the tears were erased from her reflection.
Having escaped from her owner’s clutches, Vic’s life changes dramatically when she is taken in by the royal family. But she is determined to find where she truly belongs, and what she has to do in order to truly escape her enemy: his hold on her mind is still as strong as ever.
Having been introduced to a naïve girl, we soon see Vic grow into a strong, capable woman. She rises through the army, changing the course of the war due to her daring tactics and determination to stop others suffering the same fate she did.
Vic isn’t a superhero though. She is haunted by her past and has to fight her own demons every day just to be able to function. There were no miraculous recoveries; no implausible feats.
Secondary characters were also strong. Ashel – a musician prince with a wild side but a caring nature – is the balm to Vic’s pain. His sister, and Heir, Beth becomes a friend that Vic can rely on. They become her family and give her someone to fight for.
Lornk is evil and twisted and plays mind games that go far beyond abuse. His son, Earnk, is initially seen as redemption and salvation for Vic. But he’s weak; he still treats Vic as a slave despite professing his love. He comes through in a few places, but otherwise I thought he was weak, especially compared to what Ashel is prepared to do for Vic.
This story is dark! It’s full of slavery, rape, war and abuse. It destroys dreams and hopes and only provides a soft hint at being able to survive the ordeals the characters go through. Events act as a crucible: some characters come through stronger than before, others are broken by the ordeal.
Despite my initial uncertainty, this was a very powerful, gripping and moving story. The descriptions are vivid and real – I flinched more than once during some of the torture scenes, cringing for the characters. My reaction made me realise I liked the characters and wanted them to survive – it showed me how hooked I was.
An engrossing and gripping read.