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Forge of Darkness
by Steven Erikson
Bantam, $27.99, 662pp
Release Date: September 18, 2012
This is the first book of the Kharkanas Trilogy.  The setting of this story is dark --in a land where wildlife has been hunted to extinction, and the grasses cut through flesh, and the acid sea is constantly eating away the land.

Mother Dark reigns over the people of this land.  Highborn children are given as hostages to other highborn families to raise, possibly as insurance against war.  But a civil war is brewing, started, for reasons not explained, when the intended bride of one of Mother Dark’s first children is slaughtered and raped the day before her wedding.  Evidence is carefully planted to lay the blame of her murder on a highborn lord.  

Interspersed through all of this darkness and war, there is a brief love story between an old highborn woman warrior and the manservant of one of the Sons of Darkness.  I hope their characters prove more relevant to the plot of the next books of this trilogy.   

I went into this book hoping for a dark magical tale comparable to George R.R. Martin.   There are too many plots woven through this book, each one complicated and hard to follow.  The androgynous and foreign names of the multitude of characters bear no name relationship to others of the same house, making it hard to remember who they are and their role in this story.  Unfortunately, I found most of this book ponderous and was relieved to finally close the back cover.  ~ Marie Davis

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