A massive army on the brink of conquest looms large in a world where prophecies are lies, magic is believed in but never seen, and hope is where you least expect to find it.
Welcome to the Five Isles, where war has come in the name of the invading army of Sør Sevier, a merciless host driven by the prophetic fervor of the Angel Prince, Aeros, toward the last unconquered kingdom of Gul Kana. Yet Gault, one of the elite Knights Archaic of Sør Sevier, is growing disillusioned by the crusade he is at the vanguard of just as it embarks on his Lord Aeros’ greatest triumph.
While the eldest son of the fallen king of Gul Kana now reigns in ever increasing paranoid isolationism, his two sisters seek their own paths. Jondralyn, the older sister, renowned for her beauty, only desires to prove her worth as a warrior, while Tala, the younger sister, has uncovered a secret that may not only destroy her family but the entire kingdom. Then there’s Hawkwood, the assassin sent to kill Jondralyn who has instead fallen in love with her and trains her in his deadly art. All are led further into dangerous conspiracies within the court.
And hidden at the edge of Gul Kana is Nail, the orphan taken by the enigmatic Shawcroft to the remote whaling village of Gallows Haven, a young man who may hold the link to the salvation of the entire Five Isles.
You may think you know this story, but everyone is not who they seem, nor do they fit the roles you expect. Durfee has created an epic fantasy full of hope in a world based on lies.
So, I received a signed copy of The Forgetting Moon (The Five Warrior Angels #1) from the author about a year or so ago after winning a contest he posted on Facebook. While the synopsis was intriguing and the cover by Richard Anderson gorgeous (as are all of his book covers), I was a bit intimidated by its sheer size and weight. At 800 pages, this behemoth is a man among boys with most of today’s epic fantasy novels, especially knowing it is just the first of a five book series. It is a book that I have had gnawing at the back of my mind since I received it, getting lost under Mt TBR and new releases coming to the forefront.
But, when Saga Press sent me a review copy of The Blackest Heart (The Five Warrior Angels #2), I figured it was time to see just how Durfee’s epic fantasy vision stacked up with the big dogs. Needless to say, I don’t know why I waited so long.
Have a GoT hangover? Tired of George R. R. Martin letting you down, leaving uncertainty broiling in your mind as to when The Winds of Winter (The Song of Ice and Fire #6) is going to be released? Look no further. Durfee has established himself as an epic fantasy novelist that needs to be taken seriously. He is up there with the John Gwynne’s and Brian Staveley’s of the world. The Forgetting Moon is one of THE best epic fantasy debuts I’ve ever happened upon.
Faith, war, and destiny are the heavy-handed players that play huge roles in this series. While trope-ish, Durfee spins them in a way that feels new to the die-hard and casual reader alike, but also comfortable in a way. On top of that, the world-building is top notch. Sure, you probably expect there to be a massive world in such a thick tome, but I feel like we are just touching grains of sand on a beach. We are also introduced to a vast array of characters that are all fully fleshed-out and come with a variety of emotions, flaws, and end-game goals that are sure to leave you loving some, hating others, and see-sawing on the rest.
While you come to expect there to be some slow parts in books of this size, they weren’t overdone and led to some insight into the characters’ real determinations. It is also hard to complain when there is plenty of death to be had. My only slight criticism is that I feel that there was some fluff that wasn’t necessarily needed, pushing the book to be a little longer than it should have been. But overall, I was enraptured throughout and started Book 2 on its heels.
If you are a fan of epic fantasy, this has to be on your radar. Even if you aren’t, The Forgetting Moon has plenty to love for those who just want a good story or somewhere to turn now that Game of Thrones has left a bad taste in your mouth. I guess I can also thank the Weiss and Benioff for laying an egg this season and giving me a reason to search out new epics.