We do not fear the flame, though it burns us,We do not fear the fire, though it consumes us,And we do not fear its light,Though it reveals the darkness of our souls,For therein lies our powerBlood Oath of the Iron ElvesFirst in a stunning debut series, A Darkness Forged in Fire introduces an unforgiving world of musket and cannonw and arrowgic, diplomacy, and oathseach wielding terrible power in an Empire teetering on the brink of warIn this world, Konowa Swift Dragon, former commander of the Empire's elite Iron Elves, is looked upon as anything but ordinary He's murdered a Viceroy, been courtmartialed, seen his beloved regiment disbanded, and finally been banished in disgrace to the one place he despises the mostthe forestNow, all he wants is to be left alone with his miserybut for Konowa, nothing is ever that simple The mysterious and alluring Visyna Tekoy, the highborn daughter of an elfkynan governor, seeks him out in the dangerous wild with a royal decree that he resume his commission as an officer in Her Majesty's Imperial Army, effective immediatelyFor in the east, a falling Red Star heralds the return of a magic long vanished from the earth Rebellion grows within the Empire as a frantic race to reach the Star unfolds It is a chance for Konowa to redeem himselfeven if the entire affair appears doomed to be a suicide missiond that the soldiers recruited for the task are not at all what he expects And worse, his key adversary in the perilous race for the Star is the dreaded Shadow Monarcha legendary elfwitch whose machinations for absolute domination spread deeper than Konowa could ever imagine Chris Evans 'The Iron Elves' trilogy completely overwhelmed me entirely and i cannot commend the books highly enough It was only by a very slim chance that i picked up 'A darkness forged in fire' off the bookshelf because it really did not stand out at all with such a pale cover, but little did i know at the time that it was the best descision that i had ever made in terms of choosing a book to read At first when i read the blurb i looked in disbelief at the words Elves next to muskets and i thought how can you mix JRR Tolkien with Bernard Cornwell, but this comparision is in a sense very true and also not true because Chris Evans is just so unique and indavidual in his portrayal of a fantasy book I fell in love with the main charicter of Konowa Swift Dragon immediately and throughout the book he was the focus point, such as Harry is in Harry Potter I began to understand the creation that Evans had created and that the Elves in his trilogy were different to others in lititary fiction and so likewise were many of the other charicters and creatures The book was full of action and drama which was really spinetingling and full on fast paced, plus it contained a deep romance too which i really longed for to be resolved but which only led to a cliffhanger at the end The good versus evil was the main storyline focus and as for the 'evil' of the shadow monarch and her kin i apsolutely loved it and was bowled over completely by Evans' creative imagination; i mean deadly killing trees! There was also some background history included which as a reader i felt particularly privaliged to know about and it really added depth and another layer to the fantastic storyline, making it evenintense and interesting Apart from Harry Potter and Tolkien by far Chris Evans exceeded all expecations with this book and made me not just like his work but really love it, so that i immediately after reading the 1st installment had to go out and buy the next two books (The light of burning shadows and also Ashes of a black frost) The trilogy is one of the very best that i have ever read and i cannot enthuse about it enough, but i do realise that it is also very unique and will as a concequence of this not appeal to everyone even if you are a fan of fantasy fiction or not The books and certainly the first one had such an impact upon myself and only increased my enjoyment and devotion to this genre and type of literature Chris Evans is an author who is a force to be reccond with and a real gem, as i cannot beleive that anyone would not like 'A darkness forged in fire' because it was just so great and i could not stop reading it once i had begun. This is a very creditable first novel a good start to a trilogy Interesting magic in lands peopled by all sorts of interesting critters including many varieties of dragons Not all are huge monsters such as the skunkdragon The characters were good memorable such as the main character, Konowa Swift Dragon, an elf who doesn't like trees or well, I don't want to tell too much Some of the characters started off as a caricature wind up being surprising In the audio edition, it was nice to hear a dwarf with an Aussie rather than Scot accent.There was some really good humor It was sudden, often almost discordant, but it helped lift the serious mood was quite lifelike It appeared suddenly at odd moments Nothing uproarious, just funny moments that so often occur There were several things a little uneven or choppy about the story I'm not sure if it was my listening skills, but in reading several other reviews, I'm fairly sure it wasn't me I have a feeling an editor went a bit heavy with the red pen at times There were some things I just had to roll with, such as a huge raptor that's kept under a tarp for days There's a lot unexplained about various parts of the novel, but I think they'll be filled in later I liked that Most fantasy novels spend too much time explaining everything All in all, it was a good read I'm looking forward to the next 3.5 stars which I'm bumping up. In the far west of the Hyntaland, the land of Elves, lies a dark mountain covered in flesheating trees whose roots have burrowed deep into the rock At the pinnacle rests a single sickly Wolf Oak, a corrupted tree that bonded with an Elf who has become as twisted as the tree: the Shadow Monarch.To the far east, in the land called Elfkyna by the Calahrian Empire that rules it, the leader of the Iron Elves lives in the forest, exiled for killing the Viceroy who was an emissary of the Shadow Monarch The Iron Elves was the first and only elvish regiment in the Calahrian army, compiled of elves tainted at birth by the Shadow Monarch: the tip of one pointed ear is black They also lack an affinity for the trees and natural life, preferring the metal of musket and sword and an indoor bed But when Konowa killed the Viceroy, the Iron Elves were disbanded and became no .Until now The legendary Star has come to the land and there is a race on to find it first The prince and heir to the Calahrian throne, a collector with no experience leading men, has come to Elfkyna to put together a new regiment of Iron Elves this time one consisting of humans (and one dwarf) Conscripted to lead the regiment in all but name, Konowa knows the real reason to reach the Star first is to keep it out of the Shadow Monarch's hands As onceextinct and monstrous creatures rise up from the earth to do Her bidding, the Iron Elves must battle never before seen foes and keep their heads, while the touch of the Shadow Monarch spreads amongst them.What began as a traditional but interesting Fantasy, shifted into a very slow creeping, almost and careful march culminating in a confusing and unnecessarily prolonged battle War and armies and fighting I expect from this kind of fantasy the sword and sorcery kind but it needs to be balanced by a wider breadth of characters and subplots so that it doesn't dawdle to a standstill.I generally steer clear of elves they can get incredibly boring, especially the Tolkien kind, which are just too perfect to hold my interest for very long but this was sent to me by the publisher and I'm always willing to read outside my general comfort zone (I like to think my comfort zone is quite broad but I expect it's pretty routine).The Elves in A Darkness Forged in Fire were something like indigenous Native Canadians or Americans or a naïve idea of them: a peaceful, harmonic people bonded to the trees and the land, putting the natural world above the human (or elf) one Reminiscent of what could be seen as aprimitive culture or a vastlysophisticated and wise one I'd like to go with the latter, since I personally think people are secondary to the world in which we live Anyway They wererustic than godlike, and the tainted elves like Konowa were an interesting concept, though the pure elves were a bit too goodygoody superior: annoying and, sadly, boring.Konowa had a modern mouth He sounded a bit out of place, beinghuman than the humans Certainly it assures our sympathy, being the most familiar character of them all, alongside the love interest, Visyna But it was also a bit weird He wasn't human, and it would be a farthrilling read to have the main character be truly nonhuman This would be a challenge to write there's a good reason why main characters are almost always human; or if Other, tend to be written as human Part of the issue is the reader: does the reader, can the reader, want to read about a nonhuman? Can a human care for a being not of the same species, really? Plenty of stories have depicted a negative answer to this question, when the nonhuman is a secondary character What's missing in the genre from science fiction too I'm sure are stories that have a completely shifted narrative perspective; or if they do try, they do it poorly What we have in A Darkness Forged in Fire is a colonial world run by a Britishesque empire that believes wholeheartedly in the superiority of its own civilisation, providing fertile ground for a critique of imperialism There is a bit of that there, but it's quite obvious and not all that important At the end of the day, so to speak, I'm not sure what was important Almost the entire book depicts an army on the move and engaged in battle Perspective shifts between Konowa, a private called Alwyn who gives us the troop's perspective, and Visyna, with an occasional other voice thrown in, like the new Viceroy.There were some elements I very much enjoyed: for all my complaints, I liked Konowa, even though he seemed out of place I liked his bengar, Jir, and Rallie's messenger birds especially Wobbly, the perpetually drunk pelican, and Dandy the raptor The dwarf, Yimt, was clichéd but entertaining There was great potential in the monsters and the flesh and souleating trees, as well as the Big Problem with the oath that binds the Iron Elves inways than one But it was slow, very slow, and the final battle was especially frustrating Descriptions began to get confusing, and I have no idea why the dwarf's Company went off on its own supposedly to scout and took so much longer to get to the outpost I formed no lasting attachments to any of the characters; it was a tad too simplistic in plot and concept to trigger my curiosity; and aside from the old rid the world of the evil one plot I have no idea where this story is going The Shadow Monarch is an unknown and probably unknowable entity, and so by default can cause no real fear or concern Other evil ones are shades and the like, and just don't feel very threatening.On the whole, I feel very ambivalent towards this book I'm disappointed that the second half didn't live up to the promise of the first half, that the characters were too superficial, and that every attempt to create a deeper and darker atmosphere only wrecked what had already been achieved by overdoing it. I liked this book Perhaps against my expectations No, really, it is rather good The protagonist has a really catchy name too Konowa Swift Dragon is an elf and former leader of the Iron Elves He is also in exile and out of favour with just about everybody The Elves don't like him because he doesn't adhere to the same beliefs about nature (The Iron Elves are so called because they use metal weapons such as Sabers and Muskets as opposed to the other Elves who shun metal, opting instead for wooden weapons like bows) In short, Konowa doesn't talk to the trees The Queen (of the Empire) and her followers aren't too fond of him either, since he assassinated their Viceroy (never mind the fact that said Viceroy was an instrument of the Shadow Monarch) See, now I'm getting ahead of myself By the way, this is not a spoiler, just in case you were tuttutting Evil is upon the land, courtesy of already mentioned Shadow Monarch, who is actually a rather powerful elf witch (Galadriel gone bad?) and Konowa is recalled from exile to reform his regiment and address some of the problems Well, actually, to find the red star of the prophecy, which should not, repeat not, fall into the grubby paws of the evil elf witch From there, things go awry and all kinds of weird adversities are unleashed upon our antihero and his motley band of brothers.This novel is the first in a trilogy, and as such, it ends on a rather open note No surprises there The things that really stood out for me were the setting and the almost Napoleonic aspects intermingled with thetraditional fantasy elements Elves with muskets and cannons, how cool is that? This is military fantasy, and at times it gets a bit gritty On occasion, it did feel a bit like reading a Warhammer novel This is really not a bad thing The characters are fun, and there are some really interesting 'pets' prowling around Perhaps I'm just easy to please. A Darkness Forged in FireChris EvansI am a bit of a lover of fantasy novels and this was no exception Fantasy novels are mostly about good versus evil and when they involve so many interesting characters it makes for a great read But having said that it was a bit longwinded at 577 pages.There are faraway lands, sick forests and evil witches Then there are good witches as well, but as in most good versus evil, the good and evil overlap An Empire, an army and a mixed bag of characters fighting for the good of the land.There was a lot of description and explanation and a lot of characters so it did become somewhat confusing at times but as I read , things fell into place and the story flowed a bit smoother I loved the magic and sorcery and also the way the story combined different lives with different tools and arms.I think this novel was written in a way that we can see how people from different walks of life can and do get along, help each other and fight for what is right even though they may not always agree with the way to go about it.All in all in was a good book but a bit long. I wanted to read this book because the premise of an elf who hated the woods was interesting I thought that perhaps Evans would break through the typical fantasy elf/dwarf/etc barriers and create something completely new and absolutely different and refreshing This book was superbly average The romance was cliche, the dialog was stilted, the characters were not as unique as I had hoped The plot was predictable All of the standard dimensions of threestar fantasy were in place from the romance to the magic to the unmemorable events Don't get me wrong, the book was a light, entertaining read but it was nothing groundbreaking and nothing I'll remember in a day I have little to no desire to continue on with the series because I feel like I already know what's going to happen I feel like I've read about all of these characters before that I've read about these situations before it's nothing new While it is an entertaining read, I think fans of Dragonlance and those kinds of books may find itenjoyable than I did. It amazes me how many different ways people can write about elves Everyone has their own opinion to what elves are like, but one thing that remains constant is the tie of elves to nature And A Darkness Forged in Fire is no different The thing that really stood out to me was the fact that some elves use muskets, and the main character, Konowa actually hates the forest It really helped make the Iron Elves or the fallen ones stand out among other elves I have read The book had a strong opening that grabbed me from the getgo Evans is heavy on the militaristic breakdown and that isn't something I usually go for A lot of time spent in camps and going on about the breakdown of the regiment While being well written, it got old after a while, as did the idiot prince in charge In the beginning Konowa complains he's going to have to babysit the prince until he becmes a man and I was hoping to see a little of that transformation Granted, this is only the first book of either a series or a trilogy so I hope to seefrom that transformation as the tale continues All in all not a bad read and I did enjoy it, however I perfer a littlecharacter development The only feeling I really got from that was Alwyn, a lad fresh out of the village seemingly unsuited for military life and Yimt, a surly dwarf who goes from saying the best way to stay alive is to stay away from battle, to leading a scout party in the most dangerous area. There are so many things wrong with this book that frankly I'm surprised I was able to finish it I'll tell you from now, there was a lot of eye rolling on my part 1 Some fantasy authors do a great job introducing the readers to a different world filled with magic and mythical beings Evans does a poor job His fantastical world is barely believable This is probably due to the way he introduces readers to the story and of course his poor analogies (eye roll and oh please) You eventually buy into but it still leaves you feeling a bit skeptical 2 Thumbs down for the romance aspect The chemistry between the hero and his lady is there at first but then fizzles and mid way through becomes forced and rushed The dialogue between the two becomes stilted and by the end of the story I was ROLLING my eyes every time the two love birds interacted 3 The dialogue between the all the characters is stilted It's like an action movie; good dialogue is way too much to ask for 4.One thing that really annoyed me about this book is how people who were not there when something happened nor were they told of such happenings, but some way some how, they knew Maybe the author did not see the need to tell us how characters became informed And i guess our hero was pretty transparent since everyone seems to know what he was thinking Sort of at odds with his military background Also, There are certain moments that makes you go huh? (and roll your eyes) You find yourself flipping back to early pages to see if you missed something 5 I must say that I did not bond with the main characters During the final battle I really did not care whether or not they triumphed Now some good: there are a lot of stories out there about elves but I found the authors take familiar but at the same time different It does have some originality I want to learnabout the elves, so I might pick up the next book And Evans is a new author so his style might improve. The elf Konowa Swift Dragon used to lead Her Majesty's regiment The Iron Elves, but has spent the past year living in the forest after being banished in disgrace and getting his regiment disbanded for killing someone who, admittedly, did need a certain amount of killing.Now he's called back into service and his regiment is reactivated, filled not with veteran elves but with the dregs castoffs of the rest of the army, and sent on a mission through a hostile wilderness to retrieve an artifact before the Dark Queen's minions can lay their hands on it.Entertaining military fantasy an early (preWexler, preMcClellan) example of flintlock fantasy, where muskets take their place next to swords and bows.