Years ago, the dwarven warrior Akina left her home in the Five Kings Mountains to fight in the Goblinblood Wars. Now at long last she's returning home, accompanied by Ondorum, her silent companion of living stone. What she finds there is far from what she remembers: a disgraced brother, an obsessive suitor, and a missing mother presumed dead. Yet the damage runs deeper than anyone knows, and when Akina's brother is kidnapped by ancient enemies from the legendary Darklands, she and Ondorum must venture below the surface—and into danger as old as the stones themselves.
From debut novelist Josh Vogt comes a tale of love, redemption, and subterranean battle, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
Author Josh Vogt’s work covers fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and more. His debut fantasy novel is Pathfinder Tales: Forge of Ashes, alongside the launch of his urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, with Enter the Janitor, The Maids of Wrath, and The Dustpan Cometh. He’s a freelance writer and editor, a Scribe Award and Compton Crook Award nominee, and a member of both SFWA and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. Find him at JRVogt.com or on Twitter @JRVogt.
This is another Pathfinder Tales novel set in the world of Golarion, where magic rules and strong men run countries. This is the story of the dwarven warrior Akina, who returns home with her monk companion Ondorum, who has taken a vow of silence. They return after years of working as mercenaries to find that Akina's mother has died and the former apprentice, Gromir (who used to be Akina's significant other and still holds a flame for her) has taken over the stoneworking business. To make matters worse, Akina's brother, Brakisten, has become a drunk and has been kicked out of the clergy because of heresies he continues to promote. Once Gromir disappears with Brakisten, it is up to Akina to suss out where they went, bring back her brother, and right all of the wrongs.
This story is a bit more complex than your usual Pathfinder Tale, which I found refreshing. There was character development, unexpected discoveries, and really cool magic. What else would you want? Well, besides tying up all of the plot holes that were left dangling, I mean. And, honestly, the story was so well done that I was willing to forgive a couple of oversights.
Here's what you need to know about me reading this book: when I picked it up, I didn't realize it was set in the world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. I was at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, Josh said, in a rather dazed voice, "I only have one book left," so I bought it.
What a pleasant surprise. You don't have to be familiar with this game (or any other) to enjoy this book.
First of all, thank you, Josh, for writing a female main character as a believable warrior. I felt like Akina and Ondorum were fully fleshed out characters that I cared about, even if their world was completely foreign to me. Their relationship, and the roadblocks their world threw at them and the ones inside their own hearts, rang true.
And have I mentioned how much I enjoy seeing a woman who can kick some serious ass in a battle?
While this book isn't going to tempt me into playing the game, it will tempt me into reading more books set in this world. I found myself reluctant to leave it.
Set in the world of the Pathfinder role playing game, it's a lot of mazes and monsters. One is often tempted to dismiss that particular sub-genre as an excuse to write sweet fight scenes and prosaic descriptions of favorite monsters. One can shove that attitude down the Long Walk in the Darklands.
Listen: this book is the story of a dwarven berserker struggling with her control issues and spirituality. Her monk boyfriend has also taken a vow of silence, which isn't helping anything. While she was out adventuring, an obsessive old flame filled her hometown with creepy statues of her, her mom disappeared, and her brother lost his job and started drinking. She is not good at solving problems that can't be solved with her maulax, but she's a dwarf. She faces things head on. Stone endures.
Yes, there are sweet fight scenes. I would particularly recommend this book to people who enjoy monks as a class, because portions read like a paean to their skill set. But far more than that, this book takes dwarves seriously. Akina is a well developed, interesting character. While we are to assume that she's beautiful by dwarven standards, inspiring the aforementioned statues, those statues feature her in full battle armor poised before fleeing armies. She's a dam, and that is part of the story, but she's a dwarf, and that is a much larger part.
I have been looking for a good book about dwarves since Rat Queens ended. Finding something with a dwarven main character is rare enough. Finding something I can stand to read more than thirty pages of is even more of a struggle. Finding a novel like this one, with an interesting female lead? Is a marvel.
I highly recommend this book to fans of the fantasy genre. Familiarity with the Pathfinder world isn't necessary. The references are easy enough to understand in context and there's a glossary if it's needed.
I bought this book because dwarves are my favorite fantasy race and I wanted to read a new story about a dwarf. I was not disappointed. This was pretty much what I expected out of a licensed Pathfinder novel about a dwarven mercenary/adventurer. There were monster fights, an underground dungeon-crawl, and an ancient evil to oppose. There was also relationship stuff between the main character and her partner that added some emotional complexity to the narrative. I was not familiar with Pathfinder's setting lore regarding dwarves, so getting bits of that in the story was an added bonus.
This is Josh Vogt debut novel and it is a worthy one. Nice characters and a classical old school D&D plot makes this a nice read. Also bonuspoints for including a rustmonster and driving the story forwards with it. Some of the fight scenes seem a bit muddled though but that is the only small complaint I have about this book. I hope to read a follow up book with the same characters.
This was a fun read, and a fun listen, as I checked out the audiobook. The book was full of action, full of fighting. However, the plot seemed a little thin as well as the emotions. I do think this is a trend of the "Role-Playing" books, as I've noticed Dungeons and Dragons to often be the same way. It may be the publisher telling the author to have a battle every x amount of pages, since most gamers love the battles. Overall, though, it was a really enjoying read.
When the dwarven warrior Akina returns home after years fighting as a mercenary, she quickly learns that all has not been good for her family in her absence. Her mother has died, and her brother has become an alcoholic and is disgraced from the priesthood of the chief dwarven god Torag. When her old boyfriend kidnaps her brother in a desperate attempt to re-win Akina's affections, she pursues him along with her Oread (human infused with earth elemental ancestry) friend and lover, Ondorum, into the depths of the earth in the Darklands. During her pursuit they have to deal with many of the dangers that make surface dwellers and even dwarves scared of the deep caverns beneath the earth.
Forge of Ashes reads like a who's who of classic Darkland monsters, with appearances by derro, duergar, troglodytes, ropers, darkfolk, purple worms, and more. While dealing with these dangers, Akina and Ondorum must also deal with their inner demons, her uncontrolable rage, and his inner torment which has caused him to isolate himself with a vow of silence. They also have to try to separate friend from foe, knowing that almost any creature living in the Darklands is a threat to anything they can get in their power.
While Forge of Ashes is a nice change of pace for the Pathfinder Tales line, detailing dwarven life in Golarion, the overall plot and pacing of the book are enjoyable, but not innovative. It's a solid adventure story, with some personal stories of the main characters, but on the whole, I didn't feel this book added much beyond a competent adventure story, not meeting the high bar of many of the other Pathfinder Tales novels. That being said, it was an enjoyable read, just not one that stood out as bringing something new to the table. As only the second book in the line to deal with the Darklands, it is a good source of fiction for that underground realm of Golarion.
An exploration of parts of Golarion I hadn't read about before and some good characters and moments. Feels a bit like the start of a series which is a good thing but at times feels rushed. As a gamer it is a good novelization of game elements many treated in ways I haven't thought about before (but which may inspire me to try in my own games). Overall a good satisfying read.
An action-packed book with some great supporting characters. The main character is difficult to get behind, but I did enjoy the monsters. The talking stalactite was the best and quite inventive. The final battle gets a bit jumbled and the living forges were very confusing. I wish Izthuri's tribe was featured in the final battle, she basically was written out 2/3's of the way in to the book.