Title & Author: Anvil of Tears (The Reforged Trilogy Book 1) by Aron Christensen, Erica Lindquist
Genre & Publication Date: Science-Fiction/Fantasy, January 14, 2014
Book Description: Maeve Cavainna is running and her wings won’t save her. The infamous bounty hunter, Logan Coldhand, chases close behind her and intends to drag Maeve back to the planet of Axis to collect the high price on her head. When he finally corners her, the long chase seems to be over… until a frightened alien girl stumbles into their fight and begs for their protection. Maeve and Logan call a reluctant end to their battle and promise to help the girl, but they have agreed to far more than they know. Can the fragile peace between hunter and mark hold long enough to save the lives that depend on them?
First line: When life first contemplated crawling from the seas, the infant creatures believed that distance was the greatest of all barriers.
My take: I had high hopes for this one. It was written by a husband and wife writing team, which I thought was awesome. It also had all the elements in place for a great adventure. There are fairies, aliens, bounty hunters, all of them running around in spaceships to different planets. How could this one miss??…But it did. Let’s examine it by the three strike rule:
Strike One: Slow to get going
Now, when I say slow to get going, I don’t mean that the action was delayed by heavy character building at the start (more on that later). Think on the story of the race between the tortoise and the hare. Now replace the hare with a snail and you might be on to the speed I’m talking about.
This is not to say there wasn’t anything interesting, but rather that each chapter began with a minimum of three pages of explanation, or what’re known as “info dumps” in craft jargon, of different worlds. The political history, governmental development, conflicts, all of it was relayed in dry, encyclopedia style format that left me itching to flip ahead to where the story picks up again. Thankfully that eventually stops, but it’s then replaced by flashbacks. These were more interesting, except there were too many of them and sometimes they cropped up in the middle of an action scene. It was like someone hit pause just when things were heating up, arg!
Strike Two: Murky motivation
The main driver of the story revolved around the alien girl that needed help. I couldn’t figure out why anyone cared enough about this stranger to completely derail, not to mention risk, their lives. Sure, there’s the basic concept of protecting the innocent from harm, but it needed more.
The protagonist, Maeve, was set up as a bitter, self-destructive character who barely cared enough to do her job correctly (2nd in command on the ship—a role that didn’t make sense given her personality), and the bounty hunter as a cold, unfeeling version of the Tin Man. For some reason, both drop what they’re doing—a visceral clash of winged and cybernetic hand-to-hand combat—when the girl arrives on scene…Huh?
They aren’t the only ones. Everyone jumps on board with the mission to protect this girl, including the captain of Maeve’s ship, who endangered his entire crew blasting off from a planet without authorization so they could get away (even though no one was really chasing them at the time).
Later on when things tie in to Maeve’s past, it only came about as a result of an extreme coincidence (they happened to be on the same planet), thus seeming more like plot convenience than a believable sequence of events.
Strike 3: Lack of character development
The back stories of the entire crew were parsed out mainly through flashbacks. Although these were interesting, they would have been better integrated with the story if woven in to the current action. I didn’t feel like I got to know them and how they tick. They didn’t really evolve as people and I was “told” of the relationships/friendships between them, rather than “shown”. In effect, they seemed flat. Granted, this is the first book in a series so maybe the writers are holding a lot of this back for the sequels, but even so, it would’ve been nice if they’d have at least hinted at something more. It might be the start of a trilogy, but come on, throw me a bone here.
The Magical: I loved the idea of rim world “magic” in contrast to core world “science”. Magic is described as something subject to the same universal elements that science is, only evoked through song. I also thought it was interesting that the fairies were seen as trash by the core world people and treated with disdain. A unique angle for a species that is usually the elite in books given their wings, their powers and their general flawless beauty.
The Mundane: Slow to start with thin character motivation and too many info dumps/flashbacks that bog down the action.
Summary of Thoughts: This book could have been greatly improved by an editor. There are plenty of freelance editors that offer services to self-published authors. His or her evaluation would have helped to tighten up the action sequences, remove the exposition and sharpen the relationships and motivations of the characters. As it is now, it’s a frustrating read and not one I can recommend. That being said, it is currently free for the Kindle if you’d like to see for yourself.
Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews: http://www.amazon.com/Anvil-Tears-Reforged-Trilogy-Book-ebook/product-reviews/B002XULHW0/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1