Forge of Darkness

Forge of Darkness by Steven Erikson, The Kharkanas Trilogy #1

Now is the time to tell the story of an ancient realm, a tragic tale that sets the stage for all the tales yet to come and all those already told...

It's a conflicted time in Kurald Galain, the realm of Darkness, where Mother Dark reigns. But this ancient land was once home to many a power. and even death is not quite eternal. The commoners' great hero, Vatha Urusander, is being promoted by his followers to take Mother Dark's hand in marriage, but her Consort, Lord Draconus, stands in the way of such ambitions. The impending clash sends fissures throughout the realm, and as the rumors of civil war burn through the masses, an ancient power emerges from the long dead seas. Caught in the middle of it all are the First Sons of Darkness, Anomander, Andarist, and Silchas Ruin of the Purake Hold...


Steven Erikson is best know for his ten volume spanning Epic Sword and Sorcery Fantasy series: The Malazan Empire of the Fallen. If you drop either names to many a fantasy fantasist they are bound to have heard of this huge success. I was introduced to the Malazan Empire of the Fallen by a recommendation of a colleague and was hooked from the first sentence of the book, I have devoured all 10 books since then and when I heard that Steven Erikson was writing a prequel to The Malazan Empire of the Fallen I was very, very happy. Having to have had to part with many a great character in the series, either by death or with reading the conclusion of the series left me with a empty feeling. I was there for very eager to once again return to this amazingly rich universe. 

Forge of Darkness isn't a book in the same setting as you have come to expect in the Malazan Empire of the Fallen series, you don't follow any of the storylines like that of the Bridgeburners. Forge of Darkness is the prequel to the original series and herein, Steven Erikson takes the reader back a few millennia and tells the story in the wake of how several events shaped the fate of many characters. Here the focus is on the story of one of the major races that of the Tiste. If you have read the original series you know that there are Tiste Andii, Tiste Edur and Tiste Liosan, the Children of Night, Shadow and Light. However in Forge of Darkness it is just the Tiste. 

My biggest concern is how do you review a work of such an author. Such a rich universe and even bigger characters, it's hard to put it all into words but here goes.

The first thing that falls to note for me was the type of narration that was used. It felt for me quite different than what I had come to expect in the Malazan Empire of the Fallen books, and just a note in between, not in a bad way! Where you had the multiple perspectives of humans and the other races with the occasional puns and jokes thrown in the mix, Forge of Darkness had for me a much darker kind of storytelling vibe going on, this produced a great sense for me especially with the elements that come to light in the story itself. Also the story is told as a story, in the prelude of the story you learn that none other than the Tiste Andii Poet Gallan, is telling this story to Fisher Kell Tath! OW yeah!! Lets get back to the narration though, the character cast is just what you can expect in a Steven Erikson, its huge, and soon after you have just finished the first few pages the different characters and points-of-view may seem like too much, trust me it isn't at all, yes you have to keep focused when you tackle one of his books, but if you have read the original series, you will be quick to recall all the things that happened surrounding these different characters. Several of the big names that make an appearance in Forge of Darkness are: Anomander Rake, Lord Draconus, Silchas Ruin, Andarist, Mother Dark, Vatha Ursander and though he entry is brief Anomander's long time friend Caladan Brood. Each of these characters showed a great development in the Malazan books, but with many established events I wanted to know just how they came to pass. 

The story of Forge of Darkness is likewise the setting something different. The times are changing for the Tiste in their Warren of Darkness, Kurald Galain. Vatha Ursander want to take the hand of Mother Dark in marriage but it seems that she has taken her own consort to be united with Lord Draconus. This causes quite an uproar in the Tiste lands and the struggles soon come to show as families start to fight and by this a civil war is imminent. This is really the big lines of what happens in Forge of Darkness and explaining more would take away a lot of the reading experience for other Malazan fans out there. But you can expect backstabbing, betrayal and a lot more! I do have to say that even with this big line, the book is still a tome with 900 pages full of details. Steven Erikson deftly weaves his story surrounding the major characters and their houses and how they are all coping with the boiling problems. Also a great thing to see is that besides the major characters, Steven Erikson writes several of the smaller characters with the same flourish making them just as important to the story as the others. My mind is still buzzing with all that has come to show in Forge of Darkness, it definitely answered some burning questions for me, about the Tiste Liossan for example but also questions regarding many differen characters it was great to see Malice, Envy and Spite, Osserc and Orfantal make an appearance in their earlier years. However with this first prequel Steven Erikson has raised quite a few more. 

With Forge of Darkness, Steven Erikson single handly shows that he is one of the major voices currently writing fantasy. I have enjoyed his Malazan series with full pleasure and Forge of Darkness is just the same. It's a terrific read and I cannot say this too often but if you are a fantasy reader you really have to have read his books, or go stand in a corner and shame on you! Forge of Darkness takes the reader back about 300.000 years before the first book Gardens of the Moon, and tells the story on how the Tiste lands are on the brink of war and how corrupt and backstabbing they can be, having had the pleasure of this revisit I got many of my questions answered but what would a great author be if he wouldn't raise me tenfold! This is definitely another winner. Fall of Light, the second book in the Kharkanas Trilogy is out 2015! write it down in your agenda!!

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