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The Forgetting Moon by Brian Lee Durfee

The Forgetting Moon by Brian Lee Durfee
4.5
Book Name: The Forgetting Moon
Author: Brian Lee Durfee
Publisher(s): Saga Press
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Dark Fantasy
Release Date: August 30, 2016

Spoilers Warning: This review contains minor spoilers for The Forgetting Moon. Please read with caution if you have yet to finish the book.

“Bloodwood assassins have hunted us your entire life, boy!”

Brian Lee Durfee is an epic new force in the dark fantasy genre and one I feel that can stand alongside the likes of George R. R. Martin or Mark Lawrence. His writing is not just a grueling race of emotional ruin for every character involved, it has depth in its detailed worldbuilding, fleshed-out lore and riveting characters that one feels they can be fully invested in. If you enjoy political intrigue, religious mystery, graphic combat and punishing emotional turmoil you will adore The Forgetting Moon.

And if that doesn’t get your attention, how about deadly assassins with powerful, red-eyed steeds, knights who do not fear getting their hands dirty, gladiators dueling it out to the death in an arena or princesses challenging their gender norms? Did I mention there’s a massive army set on destroying everything in its wake? How about terrifying mermaids? A lovable dog named Beer Mug?

Now, about that “emotional destruction” I mentioned. While reading The Forgetting Moon one becomes well acquainted with the vast array of characters in the novel. For example, our main protagonist, Nail, is set on joining a seafaring vessel and has fallen in love with the beautiful village girl who doesn’t return his affections. Another one of the characters, a princess named Tala, who only longs for acceptance from her friends, is drawn into a deadly plot that could erode the dynasty. Her sister, Jondralyn, wishes to wield a sword, but is fraught against the strict rulings of their tyrannical brother. Each character attempts to overcome their hardship or shortcomings, only to be knocked down in these pursuits.

In retrospect, this made for reading The Forgetting Moon more enjoyable than similar dark fantasy series I have read in the past. While reading Mark Lawrence’s The Broken Empire, the characters had their quests, their characteristics, and their adversaries. But while I was amazed by Lawrence’s ending, I felt that some of his characters were lacking the epic scope of Durfee’s own. Granted, Durfee’s series is not anywhere close to being finished (there are to be five books total). However, I did feel more invested in the cast of characters Durfee had imagined than in Lawrence’s.

This could be due to Durfee’s efforts of fleshing-out his character’s and taking the time to bring out these physiognomies. Such as how I mentioned earlier Jondralyn wishing to become a swordswoman. Durfee goes the extra mile of Jondralyn pursuing that effort, while facing trials and errors that challenge her exertions. While The Broken Empire (TBE) does provide some backstory and some trials that Jorg faces, I think the greatest pitfall is the novels weren’t nearly long enough to allow the depth of developing the characters to their fullest advantage. The entirety of TBEis around a thousand pages. Durfee’s first book is about eight hundred pages in length, which leaves a lot of room for him to explore his characters and develop his world.

Speaking of his world, it is packed with religious doctrine and lore, such as the Ways and Truths of Laijon and The Brethren of Mia, two opposing religions that preach truth to the masses. At their center is the prophecy of the Five Warrior Angels who will come and save the world from Absolution, which simply boils down to the destruction of their world and the return of their savior.

There are the typical tropes, such as the disgruntled, wise or “wizened” old druid, in the character of Shawcroft. There’s the village boy wishing for greatness, in the character Nail. The noble hero, Gault, the “Joffrey” character in Jovan, and the girl wishing to play with swords instead of dolls, in Jondralyn. But while there are the typical tropes that populate the fantasy genre, I hardly felt it was a negative mark, because Durfee writes these characters with such command in his narrative. And while they have a likeness to others, they are still Durfee’s own.

How do the action sequences measure up in The Forgetting Moon? They are exhilarating, fast paced, and descriptive which helps to evoke the reader’s imagination. Durfee writes these scenes, I feel, with great skill:

“…With a flick of his left arm, he lashed out, and a ribbon of blood opened up along the sailor’s forehead. A startled gasp rippled through the crowd. The Valle no longer moved like one injured, sluggish and slow. There was now a bounce in his step, and his eyes burned with bright vigor. His left hand holding the knife flitted around in a blur, shaving a swatch from the sailor’s beard clear to the skin. With another flicker of the blade a second chunk of hair was gone, and another, and another. Soon the sailor stood stock-still, not even trying to duck the blows, blinking wild and nervous. He went quite pale, realizing his death was nigh.”

In totality, I really fell in love with the first installment to Durfee’s The Five Warrior Angel series and am sure it can stand alongside Brent Weeks’ The Night Angel trilogy, Mark Lawrence’s The Broken Empire, or even rub shoulders with Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Fact is, if you have not picked up The Forgetting Moon you should, because Durfee is a powerful new writer in dark fantasy. And one you most certainly should not miss.

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar Sam F. says:

    Great review. Excited to pick this one up!

  2. Awesome review! I clicked the link because the title of the book intrigued me, and your review has convinced me to add The Forgetting Moon to my shopping list!
    Looking forward to exploring your site and seeing what other gems i can discover.
    Thanks!

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