SPFBO Finalist review: The Forever King (The Scalussen Chronicles # 1) by Ben Galley
The Forever King, the first in the new series by Ben Galley that takes place decades after his first series the Emaneska. The amount of time that has passed in-world made having to know anything about that series to understand this book, a non-issue for me. I skimmed the notes of past events in the start of the book and pretty much everything is self-explanatory and for the rest, there were informative history excerpts in the beginning of the chapter to fill you in along the way.
Most of the book is shown between three characters:
The Forever King had a great beginning with Mithrid and the others scavenging the coastline. It really grabbed me and made me want to come back and see what happens to them.
It’s a huge feeling world with magic that is very present- I loved the making of the Scarred. The “bad guys” feel malevolent and dark, and I do like a story with a villain that feels evil; one that I can really be worried about winning, and how our heroes will fare.
Somewhat spoilery talk ahead-
I struggled to put into words what it was that held me back from this story and more importantly for me- the characters. I hate to just say “I didn’t connect to them” and not give a reason, though, honestly for a review outside of SPFBO, I would have left it at that.
Because this was world-building heavy and a very full book, the characters quickly fell into patterns of predictability for me- grieving girl with big angry chip on her shoulder, disillusioned and weary leader willing to go to any lengths to protect the world. They didn’t feel as realized to me, as the incredible world they lived in.
Anyway, back to the stuff I loved-
The highlight for me in this story, was the siege and the big battle towards the end. I love sieges. I thought the scale of the armies were shown well and I couldn’t help but think of some of those scenes in the Tolkien movies when they’d pan out and you could see the scope of the gathered armies, their magnitudes so astounding that you wondered how the good guys could ever succeed. Very cool.
And on a side-note, as someone who lives in the north and has winter up to 7 months of the year; I really felt the cold in this book. The crunch of the snow, that cut right through you chill of the wind, the ozone smell- it felt like winter.
I didn’t connect to the main players as much as I would have liked but The Forever King is definitely worth checking out if you like epic fantasy with an impressively built landscape and very present magic.