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Future Treasures: The Blackest Heart, Book 2 of The Five Warrior Angels by Brian Lee Durfee

Friday, February 8th, 2019 | Posted by John ONeill

The-Forgetting-Moon-medium The Blackest Heart-small

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.

We previously covered The Forgetting Moon back in July 2016 (and did a cover reveal in December 2015).

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.

See all our recent coverage of the best in upcoming fantasy here.

14 Comments »

  1. Just make sure you FINISH it, dude.

    Comment by Thomas Parker - February 8, 2019 11:42 pm

  2. As much as these ‘fat fantasy’ series may sound interesting, I’m starting to feel the way Hector DeJean (the Jack Vance post of Feb. 5) does about the virtues of concise stories. At 1,700 pages and only a third done — maybe, hah — this looks like another in a long line of recent time-sucking, word-creep exercises…

    Comment by candor15 - February 9, 2019 9:23 am

  3. > Just make sure you FINISH it, dude.

    Amen to that.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 9, 2019 11:39 am

  4. > I’m starting to feel the way Hector DeJean (the Jack Vance post of Feb. 5) does about the virtues of concise stories…
    > this looks like another in a long line of recent time-sucking, word-creep exercises…

    Well, maybe. I agree with you about concise stories… but then again, I’m 54 and have been reading commercial fantasy for over four decades. There was a time when I delighted in fat, immersive fantasies, and enthusiastically sought them out. I think there is a slice of the market that really appreciates these big, sprawling epics.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 9, 2019 11:47 am

  5. I’m very surprised at the anime face on the cover book 2

    Comment by Barsoomia - February 9, 2019 11:57 am

  6. Nah. I got caught by Michael Sullivan’s “trilogy” (introduced to me here at Black Gate by yourself, sir) that is now six. Plus I try to avoid “grim dark”, because, well, it’s Grim. And Dark. I want that I’ll read The Washington Post. So, acclaim aside, I’ll skip.

    Comment by R.K. Robinson - February 9, 2019 1:20 pm

  7. I think it is true that it’s easier to deal with these behemoths when you’re young. There’s no shortage of time and energy then, but when you reach a certain age you have an increasing awareness that every book that you do read means that there’s another book that you will never read…well, that means that this kind of series doesn’t have much of a chance with me. however good it might be.

    I have been looking at Harry Turtledove’s Darkness series though, six huge books that retell World War Two in fantasy terms…should I? Maybe…maybe…

    Comment by Thomas Parker - February 9, 2019 3:59 pm

  8. > I’m very surprised at the anime face on the cover book 2

    Jeff,

    Yeah, good point. I wonder if the text is going for an anime action feel, too?

    Comment by John ONeill - February 9, 2019 9:01 pm

  9. > I have been looking at Harry Turtledove’s Darkness series though, six huge books that retell World War Two in fantasy terms…should I? Maybe…maybe…

    Thomas… if you do, you know I’m going to want a review!

    I had a complete set in hardcover I gave away as part of a big 2,000-book purge of my basement last year (I paid for a table at Windy City, and Bob Byrne, Steven Silver and I used it to give away 50 boxes of books). But I’m prepared to buy a new set if you tell me I’m going to love it!

    Comment by John ONeill - February 9, 2019 9:05 pm

  10. I stacked all six volumes in my living room a few weeks ago and figured that I could read through the lot during a summer vacation. Not this summer, though. 2020.

    Comment by Thomas Parker - February 9, 2019 9:52 pm

  11. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ll allow myself maybe one giant fantasy (or, I suppose, SF or historical or whatever) series per year most years — I revisited Game of Thrones a few years back when I was going to be spending 48 hours on Amtrak, and went back to Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow & Thorn (and the new one) when I took the same train trip the next year.

    This year I’m thinking it might be Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars.

    Someday Malazan will make it to the top of the list.

    Comment by Joe H. - February 10, 2019 10:27 am

  12. > This year I’m thinking it might be Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars.

    I envy you that… I’ve heard a lot of great things about that series.

    I tried Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow & Thorn 30 years ago, and found the first 100 pages of the opening novel The Dragonbone Chair veeery slooooow. I never finished it.

    Comment by John ONeill - February 10, 2019 11:40 am

  13. Yes, the Williams books move at a very deliberate pace, and the opening in particular is kind of glacial; but once I got past that point I did enjoy the series very much.

    For some reason, I never got around to reading Kate Elliott until very recently — I remember seeing her books on the shelves back in the late 90s/early 2000s, but that was at the point when EVERYTHING published by DAW was big, fat multivolume fantasy series, and I just found the whole thing kind of exhausting. But I read her Court of Fives trilogy recently (YA and a much more manageable length) and enjoyed them quite a bit, so I figure it’s probably time for a deeper dive.

    After I finish reading a whole bunch more Cherryh, that is.

    Comment by Joe H. - February 10, 2019 1:05 pm

  14. If I’m going to read something huge I like to have a Wikipedia site available to remind who that character from 300 pages ago was .

    Comment by Barsoomia - February 12, 2019 9:29 am


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