I read Forged In Fire (urban fantasy 428 pages) by J.A. Pitts the same day that it arrived, which was yesterday.
I continue to enjoy this series, especially the world-building and the characters.
I’ll start my thoughts with the world-building. Stories that take place in the modern world and then incorporate fantasy and mythological elements into the world we know and take for granted are ones that I tend to enjoy, depending on how well the worlds are mixed. I believe that the world-mixing is done very well in this series. The elves are little goth kids the dwarves are angry and holding grudges, the dragons control vast amounts of the world and people’s lives and no one knows, and magic messes with technology.
I might also be biased towards this series because it’s from my home. All the places that are mentioned are places I know and almost all of them are places I’ve been. The distances and time to travel between them are all correct, as is the way people from that area tend to view the travel between the distances. The pass, the trees, the traffic. It still makes me homesick, and I suspect this series is going to continue making me homesick until I reach a point where I can actually return to my home and live there. It’s also very refreshing to me to read stories from my home area that are so obviously written by someone who lives in my home area. There’s a feeling of authenticity that can’t be replicated by just studying a place. The way people talk, the clothes most common, all the little details that you only really get a feel for by living in a place.
As for characters, this series continues to surprise me with how closely I can sympathize with Sarah. She’s not exactly patient or diplomatic, but she is efficient at getting the job done. She is loyal to her friends and has a sense of honor that most modern “heroes” in stories ignore. She does some work for one of the dragons as a sense of responsibility for the way the current situation is and that’s something that most of the people wouldn’t understand. Sarah is also far from perfect. When she does battle, she doesn’t complete every move flawlessly and she often winds up rather beaten and bloody during each of the battles she races into. Even better, she doesn’t have magic recuperative powers so she still suffers from her previous injuries and they don’t heal overnight (unless someone else comes and does some magic on her). Not even her magic blade can heal her. So there is the very real possibility of long-term physical damage or even death, which is more than some of the heroes out there who never seem to have normal health issues, like scrapping their knees during a fight. She’s also a berserker, which means emotions have a tendency to motivate some of her actions, and that’s something I relate to in a very big way.
Another one of the really big draws of Sarah is that she is a kick-butt chick, but she is learning self-confidence. She wasn’t just gifted with her fighting skills – she had to learn them and she has to continue to practice them. And even so, she’s not the best there is. She gets the job done, but it’s dirty and not elegant or pretty at all. And I see a lot of myself in that, as well. I was just having this discussion today about how the members of my family are all people who will work hard to get a job done as quickly and correctly as possible. It probably won’t be perfect and it probably will look less-than-stellar, but the job will be done and it won’t have to be done again. Sarah is like that, too.
Creating characters that readers can relate to is something that authors should strive to do. It’s been a while since I found a character in anything I’ve read that has given me a true sense of similarity. I can usually understand character motives and I appreciate their stories, but it’s very rare for me to see so much of myself in the characters I’m reading about. In a lot of ways, I would react to everything pretty much exactly as Sarah does. In a lot of ways, it’s kind of refreshing because that makes me feel less different. And also gives me a weird sense of hope. Sarah is very different from most characters and I would view her life as mostly a success. Her job is very non-standard and that appeals to me on a lot of levels right now. Basically, you can do a job you love and not have to succumb to the ideal lifestyle others continuously attempt to push on you. And that’s what I need to be reading right now.
I also liked the open-mindedness and the realism of the rest of the characters in the story. Everyone is different with different humors, strengths, weaknesses, etc., and that was refreshing. You usually only get some many different types of characters in stories. The tragic male-hero who lost his family and is working to avenge them, or the hot and sexy “warrior” babe who sleeps with everyone and wears ridiculously inappropriate clothing. You even have one character who screws up really badly, but is still welcomed back into the fold. It was a nice reminder that just because friends make mistakes every now and then, and even if it’s a humongous mistake, things can still move forward positively.
Overall, I really am enjoying this series. Unfortunately, it will probably be a while before any new books come out.