The Forgetting Moon, the 800-page fat-fantasy debut from Brian Lee Durfee, was published in 2016 to some acclaim, and drew comparisons to Steven Erikson, David Eddings, and George R. R. Martin. SFFWorld was impressed, though it found things a little on the grimdark side.
When a young boy, Nail, is orphaned and taken in by a gruff and mostly silent warrior named Shawcroft, you might have an idea that Brian Lee Durfee’s The Forgetting Moon is going to tread into the waters of Epic Fantasy. You’d be mostly correct, but the routes he takes are down some of the more shadowy, grim, and darkest roads traveled in this popular sub-genre of Fantasy. To say that The Forgetting Moon leans on the shady grimdark side of fantasy would be an understatement, but nothing else about Durfee’s epic novel (and saga) is understated.
Not too surprisingly, one of the most enthusiastic reviews came from Matthew Cropley at Grimdark Magazine.
The Forgetting Moon by Brian Lee Durfee is a fantastic new addition to the grimdark fantasy landscape… The story begins with Nail, a young man living in a sleepy whaling village in the corner of the kingdom of Gul Kana. Unbeknownst to Nail, he has a grand destiny to fulfil and magical items that only he can wield. In Amadon, the capital of Gul Kana, Princess Jondralyn seeks to become a warrior as her younger sister, Tala, is swept into an assassination plot. Gault, a knight of the invading army from Sør Sevier, has become disillusioned with the conflict, and questions the rule of the conquering Angel Prince, Aeros Raijael. Other individuals scattered across the kingdom give further insight into the escalating war… It sounds like a familiar story but, in this case, Durfee turns it on its head. Nail is far from the moralistic hero of traditional fantasy, and everyone seems to have a different interpretation of the prophecies, if they’re even genuine in the first place…
The Forgetting Moon is an engaging tale about the fine line between truth and lies. It skilfully subverts stories of destiny and ancient magic without losing the grandeur such stories possess. The characters are memorable and realistic, the world is steeped in lore, and the book succeeds in being both fast-paced and sweeping. Brian Lee Durfee has done a fantastic job with his first novel, and the four more to come in the series are books to get excited about.
Wait, there are four more?? Volume two, The Blackest Heart, arrives in hardcover on February 26, and my advance copy tips the scales at 941 pages. We’re only two books into this series, and it’s already over 1,700 pages long. It you like your grimdark epic, I have good news for you.
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that each novel in the series deals with one of the titular Five Warrior Angels. Here’s the description for Book 2, which sounds like it deals with the Assassin Angel?
Gladiator. Assassin. Thief. Princess. And the Slave. The Five Warrior Angels have been revealed, one by one the mystical weapons they once wielded are being found, and an ancient prophecy is finally being fulfilled.
Or is it? For when it comes to recorded history, much is intended to manipulate and deceive.
Returning to the kingdom of Gul Kana, Princess Jondralyn has suffered a devastating loss, discovering that not all prophecy is to be assumed, not all scripture to be trusted. At the same time, her younger sister, Tala, has found faith within herself while facing off against villains, who are using her for their devices.
Hawkwood, the former Bloodwood Assassin, is captured. And the knight, Gault, betrayed by the Angel Prince, can only wonder of the fate of his daughter who has fallen into terrible hands.
All while Nail embarks upon the deadliest quest the Five Isles has ever known.
The Blackest Heart will be published by Saga Press on February 26. It is 941 pages, priced at $31.99 in hardcover and $7.99 for the digital edition. The cover is by Richard Anderson.
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