Once upon a time, a much younger me decided that it had been far too long since I read a book. I wandered into a Barnes and Noble and perused the shelves until I found a book that sounded cool. I picked up The Black Company with no prior knowledge, took it home and discovered one of the best stories I have ever read in my entire life.
The moral of this story is that you don’t have to read the most popular, the most current, or the greatest books out there to have a magical reading experience. The Black Company is a masterpiece of writing in my opinion, but I have picked up many a lesser book with no prior knowledge and had a lovely experience with them despite them being often unpolished and in need of a little love. This leads me into this review for Forging Divinity, not a perfect book but a book I enjoyed.
Forging Divinity is a high fantasy novel by Andrew Rowe about 3 characters with a variety of motives and talents in a city sized mess. The book follows Taelin, Lydia, and Jonan as they try to figure out a number of different happenings surrounding the city of Orlyn, a mysterious legendary sword, and a local pantheon. The plot is not this book’s strongest point. The motivations and causes of each character are sometimes a little hard to parse and I had a little difficulty keeping track of the various allegiances and agendas.
Where this book shines is with its interesting magic and amusing characters. The book has a well-crafted magic system that piqued my curiosity and kept me engaged. Rowe occasionally goes a tad too deep in his explanations of the workings of his magic. A few times I felt like I was reading a DnD manual on how to use spells, but for the most part I found myself thinking of possible combinations of magic and new spells I would weave in the world. I appreciate that Rowe varied his characters talents so that there is a nice mix of mystical workings on each page.
Also, the characters are genuinely amusing. More than once I found myself laughing out loud at various pieces of dialogue or found myself smiling as someone talked. On the other hand there are a few awkward conversations that could have used a little more polishing, but on the whole I would give Rowe a spot on my small list of authors who make me laugh.
One of my favorite things about the book is the way Rowe wrote his pantheon. Much like Dragonlance, Rowe avoid metaphorical mythical deities in favor of the more “melt your city if you annoy them” variety. As a big mythology buff, this style of story was right up my alley and I really enjoyed the attention and personalities that Rowe gave some of the gods that showed up in the story.
Verdict: I enjoyed the book and I would read the sequel, but it would not be a priority. In future books I would enjoy a slightly clearer plot and a little less textbook explanations of magic. That being said, Rowe definitely has some talent and I look forward to seeing what he can do.