Revenge loves company.
Mithrid Fenn wants nothing to do with magick. Magick is a curse word, banned by the vast Arka Empire and punishable by death. Its purging has finally brought peace to war-torn Emaneska. Only a stubborn rebellion, led by the warlord Outlaw King, raids and pillages the empire’s northern fringes.
To cliff-brat Mithrid, this is an age of tranquility and childhood games. That is until an illegal spellbook washes up on her shores, and she finds herself thrust into a war she never knew existed.
Now hunted by daemons and mages, she is dragged inexorably north to Scalussen and its rebels fighting doggedly to preserve a memory of freedom. Mithrid holds no such ideals. She fights for revenge and nothing nobler. If spilling blood means helping the Outlaw King, then so be it. Even if it means all-out war.
The Forever King is the first book in a new trilogy – The Scalussen Chronicles – set in the dark and nordic world of The Emaneska Series. A breathless and emotional tale of revenge that crisscrosses a vast world, The Forever King is an epic fantasy ideal for fans of Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson and Mark Lawrence.
Ye God’s that was unexpected. Why did nobody tell me Ben Galley’s books were so bloody good?
As usual (more usual than I care to admit!) I have had Ben Galley’s The Forever King for ages. He very kindly got in touch and said do you fancy giving it a read? At that point, I was a new blogger and honestly quite chuffed that someone had taken the time to contact l’il old me, never mind with the intention of asking me to review their books.
Anyway, as usual events took over and I didn’t get the chance, so when I saw that the audiobook was out, I grabbed it.
Now I am sure that I have mentioned this before, but I tend to use audiobooks for those books I want to read but don’t get the chance, Usually I don’t accept review requests for audiobooks and this is where I pick up those books I really want to read without my review head on.
However, I can’t keep quiet about this book.
It is fair to say that I enjoyed this book immensely from its very start.
Now, if like me, you are new to Ben Galley’s work, The Forever King takes place in an already established world, and is the second series set in his Emaneska universe. However, this is a new series set in this world and whilst prior knowledge of that world is helpful, it is not essential, and I think that is one of the good things about this book, as Ben Galley welcomes new readers to his series with open arms and he eases you into this world.
There was loads of stuff to like in this book. I mean it has Dragons and gryphons, magic, treachery, gods, demons and everything else bar the kitchen sink. I love a book with a good range of fantasy monsters, but it also has a really good smattering of magic and magical weapons just to add to the fun.
I think that this was what pulled me in immediately to the story. That inimitable sense of fun that is in this story. I found myself totally captivated with it. However, it is not all laughing and joking, it has a scale of epic proportions and also some pretty gritty action.
On top of this, Ben Galley has a whole host of characters that I wanted to spend time with. Mithrid, the main character, is the one that you latch onto as she is such a brilliant character. She is snarky and prickly, but at the same time she is a child that has had a traumatic experience that you can understand the emotions that she is experiencing and displaying.
And whilst Mithrid is a strong lead in the story, there are plenty of side characters that are equally as strong. This is definitely one of the strong points of the book, in that Ben Galley does not waste a single character and they are equally as much a part of the action as the lead character. Another one of my favourites was Farden, the Forever King himself. Similarly to Mithrid, he is a flawed character, mainly in the way that he doubts his ability to lead the rebels and he frequently shies away from the name that he is given by the people.
In terms of the antagonists of the story, Emperor Malvus was pretty good, but it was the inclusion of Loki that really ramped things up. Now when I was reading this, I had three different representations of Loki, both on TV and also in print, and you would think that I would be all Loki’d out, but I really liked Ben Galley’s representation of Loki. Whilst there is the familiar capriciousness of the trickster god, he has an air of malevolence to him that I quite liked.
I have seen this billed as classic fantasy and it definitely has that feel to it, but whilst The Forever King does have the classic fantasy tropes, Ben Galley manages to bring a fresh feel to it and manages to play about with the formula to much success, for instance, the idea that magick is outlawed as the cause of all evil, and the people are constantly manipulated to believe that this is the case. As a result, all aspects of magick are banned, including books which are stored in floating libraries in order to keep them safe.
As for plot, it takes you on such a ride. Ben Galley is such a master of plot that I never knew where this book was going and it constantly surprised me. Never once did I predict the twists and turns of the story and it utterly enchanted me. I found Ben Galley’s storytelling abilities to be phenomenal and this book reminded me of why I fell in love with the fantasy genre in the first place.
So if like me, you are new to Ben Galley’s work, I strongly recommend this book and hope you that you enjoy it just as much as I did.
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