A Wizard’s Forge: Book One of the Woern Saga is SciFantasy that explores belief, brutality, and an unknown race that begets power upon a young woman who has been forged first by teaching, then by slavery, then a war between kingdoms.
What becomes of us when we are shaped by events? There isn’t always a scar visible to show we have walked through hell and fire. Having your mind and identity taken from you bit by bit until you become someone else is a terrifying thought for most of us. Those that have suffered slavery of both body and mind may look like ordinary on the outside, they are anything but on the inside. This is the story of the lost people of Knownearth, one woman, two kingdoms, mysterious magic power, and the fate of an entire planet.
A Wizard’s Forge is a complex story about exactly how people can be forged into becoming an entirely different person. The condition we know as Stockholm syndrome. Stockholm syndrome is not merely a condition developed in victims of kidnappings or hostage instances. It can also be applied to a wider variety of situations, afflicting victims of domestic or child abuse, human trafficking, and incest. Prisoners of war, political terrorism, cult members, concentration camp prisoners, slaves, and prostitutes also fall prey to Stockholm syndrome. It is believed that women are especially subject to develop the condition.
We first meet Victoria from Ourtown and learn how her education shaped her beliefs, learning the logs handed down from generation to generation was her calling in life. She becomes the youngest logkeeper in history and begins to travel from town to town along the isolated northern coastal towns known where those that once were miners have settled. They sought the materials to repair their space transport, but failed and settled the region they had travelled to, widely cut off from the rest of the population that settled elsewhere on the continent.
Taught from childhood that she and her people came from the stars 3000 years earlier and that preserving the knowledge in the logs could be the key to their origins and even possibly returning to their home world one day, she can see the shuttle Elesendar shining like a star, orbiting the planet in the night sky. Her abduction by pirate slavers changes her sheltered world and she begins to question everything she has ever known. Violently abducted and sold as a mistress slave to a misogynistic and cruel megalomaniac, the Relmlord, Lornk Korng in the city of Traine, she endures months of abuse, while he changes her name and destroys her identity of herself with patience and cunning under the guise of affection. Vic fights with all her will to retain her identity. To resist the temptation to love that which is false, as a possession, an object, and to fight for the will to regain her freedom.
This is a novel about the ways that our lives and our loves forge us. It can be wrought, demanding and desperate, or lying subconscious, waiting for trust to allow it to grow again anew. It is about the forging of a deadly assassin, the strange gift of power to a mind not prepared to receive it, and the forging of a wizard. A wizard that wants revenge, who wants to save the man she loves, but cannot trust her own heart because of the twisted feelings of want and revulsion that still reside within her.
Victoria’s initial ignorance of the power many people possess, such as the ability of mindspeech, a type of telepathic communication prevalent on the planet in some peoples, and her first encounters with it leave her bewildered, helpless, then hell-bent on revenge. She becomes a soldier. She becomes a weapon. But whose weapon is she? The Queen of Latha for whom she fights? The Relmlord who made her Kara? The strange insectoid race of the Kragnashians with their waters of power? Or will she claim the power to become master of herself again?
The possession by the Relmlord, is sexually based and mental violation. Coveted by one man who will stop at nothing to reclaim his creation, confused by her feelings for another, she forsakes her adoptive family, and possibly, her true love, to pursue a course of defeating both her inner demons, and the man who created them. Along the way, the truth of unlocking the power Vic possesses lies with the strange insectoid race, the Kragnashians, that have an ulterior motive in unleashing Vic upon the world which they share with humanity.
The story itself is unique and captivating in its own way. Many aspects of this book may make this an emotionally difficult read for some. There are no gaps in pacing, although by comparison, the beginning of the book is tranquil and the end is a small holocaust. There is plenty of action and political intrigue, alongside rape and murder. The world building is tightly focused and character driven.
I would recommend this to readers that enjoy good prose with a strong character voices, in a story that deals with multiple adult themes. The end, while not a cliffhanger, was chaotic and very fast paced, leaving the reader as beleaugered as the survivors. The path is open for Vic to either become someone to be feared, or someone whose knowledge and power could now change the destiny of the people on her world. We shall have to wait for book two to find out.
Wizard’s Forge is Winner, First Place, Science Fiction/Fantasy, 2016 Writers Digest Popular Fiction Awards and Finalist, Science Fiction, 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
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About the author: A.M. Justice
I have danced tango beneath the wings of angels, played hide and seek with harbor seals, and sought distant galaxies from dusk to dawn. It’s been a while since I’ve donned my tango shoes, but I still scuba dive and star gaze whenever the seas are calm enough and the skies dark enough. Hiking to isolated swimming holes, exploring ancient cathedrals, and dining with friends are among my favorite things, but I really love sitting with a cat on my lap while a beloved movie plays on TV. My young life was defined by restless parents who moved us every two to four years; but I’ve found stability in a Brooklyn apartment where I’ve lived more than a decade with my husband, daughter, and my cats.