Review copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
A solid beginning to an urban fantasy series.
I’ll first start this review by saying that urban fantasy is a rare hit for me. In fact, other than The Divine Cities by Robert Jackson Bennett, Heartstrikers by Rachel Aaron, Paternus Trilogy by Dyrk Ashton, and Jade City by Fonda Lee, I’ve been mostly disappointed with what I’ve read so far. Hero Forged is a new rising urban fantasy that’s well-loved by some reviewers I know. However, knowing my hit and miss statistics with the sub-genre, I was actually going to decline the request to review this book. The author then told me that the main character resembles Vash the Stampede from Trigun; there’s no way I would decline reviewing the book after hearing that and I’m glad I gave it a go.
Hero Forged is Josh Erikson’s debut and the first book in his Ethereal Earth series. Gabriel (Gabe) Delling is a 32 years old self-proclaimed con artist who’s currently low on cash. Gabe accepts a mission that will gain him a lot of money, and as always, the mission ends up complicating his life. A god is now trapped in him and he’s bound to a succubus. Told mostly from Gabe’s perspective, the story of revolves around him dealing with his newly forced circumstances.
“Few things in this world scare me anymore. When you learn to see into people’s hearts, there aren’t that many monsters left in the dark.”
The story and the world-building were great. Although there wasn’t anything revolutionary about them, I had a great time reading the book because Erikson’s prose flows really well. I loved Erikson’s writing style; very well-polished, easy to read, and overall didn’t feel like a debut effort. The quality of the prose was further enhanced by the excerpt of a work in progress—CONscience—written by Gabe himself that’s provided at the beginning of each paragraph. This excerpt was written beautifully, sometimes thought-provoking, inspirational, but the greatest part about it was that they served to increase Gabe’s characterizations deeply. Gabe as a conman is not a complete asshole, he’s complex, well-written, and has his own moral code and I found him to be quite a charming character to read.
“There are bad guys and then there are Bad Guys. In the former, which makes me a lovable rogue. The latter are the murderers and rapists. I draw the distinction here because the law rarely does.”
Unfortunately, I had two main problems with the books. The first one was the pacing. The first half of the book was unengaging to me and in my opinion, several scenes went on a bit too long for its own good. There were plenty of times when the point of a scene has been delivered and I felt satisfied by it, then the scene still went on and on around the same topic that it ended up losing its impact. For example, the characters in this book talks, a LOT. Don’t get me wrong, the dialogues were great, but some of the dialogues felt repetitive due to the circulation on the same topic. This happened particularly around Gabe’s refusal to accept his new situation. For a super confident conman, I was annoyed by his actions and contemplation a lot of times. I get that his reasons were valid, I doubt I’ll act better than him, but still reading about his denial repeatedly throughout the whole book didn’t make for a really fun experience. The other con (pun intended) I had with the book was that other than Gabe, I don’t feel like the rest of the characters have enough characterization’s strength for me to care about.
“You should usually try to make lemonade with what life hands you, that’s true. But other times, just be thankful that you got anything at all and eat the damned lemons.”
Despite my issues with it, overall I really had a fun time reading the book. My rating speaks for itself; this is a good book. Plus, judging from the ending—without spoiling anything—it truly feels like this is just the beginning of a big urban fantasy series. Hero Forged is a fun and entertaining start to an urban fantasy series that has a strong potential to keeps on getting better with each new installment. I look forward to what Erikson has in store for the future. Also, please keep in mind that I’ve heard a lot of amazing things about the audiobook which turns out to be narrated by the author himself.
You can order the book from: Amazon US