May 25, 2020

Review: In Thunder Forged by Ari Marmell

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Action… steampunk… lost lands of fantasy… these are all the things we crave. Back in the days of ye’ ole Commodore 64, (64K of memory man… that’s more than you’ll EVER need!) the 20-sided die reigned supreme as teenagers attended to endless basement sessions of Dungeons & Dragons.

Nowadays, those same uber-nerds own the gaming franchises, and there’s no shortage of fantasy fiction to reflect this trend.

This week’s highlight review is a case in point. In Thunder Forged: The Fall of Llael: Book One by Ari Marmell is out this week on June 4th, 2013 from Pyr Books. Thus begins the saga of the Iron Kingdoms Chronicles, melding steampunk, action and fantastic adventure. The novel is based upon the award-winning WARMACHINE fantasy war game grounded in the Iron Kingdoms realm of the role playing game of the same name.

Fans of the game will not be disappointed as action and adventure in the worlds of the Iron Kingdoms is brought to life. For those unfamiliar with the gaming realm, (such as ourselves) we found the plot easy to engage into as the story pulls no punches in the ideals of steampunk fare.  In Thunder Forged is more of a fantasy realm along the lines of Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones than a true alternate history timeline. It’s interesting to note that many alternate retro-tales such as Mike Resnick’s Weird West Buntline Special saga seem to now do away with the pretext for having steam-powered tech centuries early altogether. The original steampunk tale, The Difference Engine used Baggage’s brass cog machine to launch the computer age in the Victorian Era. Hey, it’s the techno- geek in us; we like to see and read all that forbidden exposition!

But we digress. In Thunder Forged is smart and sophisticated in portraying the fantasy world of the Cygnar, the Llael and the Ord. Pulling off a fiction book based on a fantasy game is no easy feat. Believe us, speculative fiction editors can smell fantasy stories based on your Dungeons & Dragons adventures as easily as thinly veiled fan-fic. It doesn’t matter how awesome a dungeon master you’ve been told you are, D & D-based tales are a tough sell.

But Marmell pulls off a fine tale that juxtaposes the action that fans of the Iron Kingdoms Chronicles have come to expect with a high-paced level of storytelling that make for an engaging read.

Hey, there’s even a brief synopsis of the Morrowan Calendar and the astronomy behind it. It’s amusing that several science-based websites have taken the tack of attempting to explain things like the astronomy of the world of the Game of Thrones. In Thunder Forged does an excellent job of painting an alternate reality sky, noting that the planet Caen has three moons and utilizes an intercalculary (we love the even more cryptic term embolismic) day referred to as the “Longest Night” (think leap day) to stay in sync.

Read In Thunder Forged to gain insight and a crucial edge into your next late-night journey into the realm of the Iron Kingdoms, or check it out if you’re just in the market for a good summer fantasy adventure!

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