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Forest King #1

Taming the Forest King

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Tevra, female colonel of the Light Cavalry, must establish order in the kingdom of chaos ruled by the powerful Forest King

224 pages, Paperback

First published December 1, 1986

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Claudia J. Edwards

4 books21 followers

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5 stars
74 (22%)
4 stars
130 (38%)
3 stars
86 (25%)
2 stars
32 (9%)
1 star
12 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 57 reviews
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,633 reviews34k followers
March 20, 2012
Not many books start out with the heroine getting shot in the chest with a flying arrow. Fortunately, Tevra is wearing chain mail and astride her horse, however, so she doesn't even bat an eye. She merely pulls out her sword, narrowly avoids the keening magical orb pursuing her, and rendezvous with the men under her command. The king himself has charged her with ending the corruption in the Forest Province, and as the youngest Colonel in the Light Cavalry, she takes her extraordinarily powerful role as the king's viceroy quite seriously.

I rarely traditional fantasies because I often don't have the patience to learn all the new customs and names--and so many fantasy books seem so focused on the world building that an engaging story sometimes falls by the wayside. Not so in this book, however! We are thrown into the action as soon as the story begins, and we are quickly caught up on the issues at stake. For a short book in which sword battles, politics, romance, and magic play nearly equal roles, it is exceptionally well-paced, entertaining, and accessible, whilst pleasing most fans of high fantasy, adventure, and romance.

Tevra is an unforgettable heroine, one who imperiously commands war-scarred men and dispatches corruption with ease, but who is also capable of expressing herself subtly with a cool lift of her brow or a gracious tilt of her head. The author has created in Tevra a sympathetic protagonist who is believably authoritative, but whose inner dialogue also shows a more vulnerable, emotional side that is immensely appealing. In the middle of the sensitive political issues she must deal with, Tevra is also struggling with an unwanted attraction to the Forest King, and her tingly encounters with this man made me clutch the book a little more tightly more than once. Complicating matters is the headstrong young Hetwith, who has been at her side for more than a decade and whose strengths and weaknesses somehow seem a perfect match to complement her own.

Written with brisk economy that still manages to convey a great deal of expressiveness and emotion, Tevra's story excited me and moved me in ways that I didn't expect. It is thrilling to witness her decisiveness and determination in the heat of battle (the woman takes a harpoon through her side at one point!), it is unbearably sad to hear about her past as an Unchosen maid, and it is scandalously pleasing to see her discover her feminine side for the first time. It's always tricky with first person narrative to make the reader cognizant of clues that the main character herself may not necessarily be aware of, but somehow the author managed to do that here. I also loved the cheerful humor and witty language with which nearly every scene was met--I don't think I've ever chuckled so much in a fantasy adventure.

While it's true that you might predict some of the plot lines or you may guess some of the secrets that Tevra keeps hidden even from herself, it really doesn't matter. This book fulfills every demand you would want from a story like this--and it does so with style, playfulness, and latent emotion. I couldn't have loved it more.

Spread the Love

If you ever wonder about whether word of mouth is influential, by the way, this book is another great example of how readers discover and share hidden gems. Gail Carriger chose a moment from this book as her favorite romantic scene on my blog for her guest post. Since I started reading it, more than 100 people have shelved this book and I know a number of friends have purchased it (along with a few of the author's other titles) as well. Taming the Forest King is sadly out of print, but you can easily obtain a copy through secondhand bookstores or online through Amazon, Half.com, Alibris, etc. Good luck! It's well worth the $5 or so you'll spend.
Profile Image for Gail Carriger.
Author 55 books15k followers
December 1, 2013
I can not explain why I love this book so much, but I do.

Claudia J Edwards wrote four fantasy novels in the late 80s, one of which was the first in a planned series. Sadly, she died in 2010. That series might have been one of my favorites, but as it’s unfinished, I’ll focus on Taming the Forest King. I adore this book, it’s one of the few I reread regularly and I know will always cheer me up. It’s a straight up classic fantasy with a super tough female main character, military service, magical monsters, and one of the most perfectly executed love triangles ever written. This is one where I’m not going to comment on the writing style, because, frankly I’m too sucked into the story – every time – to be able to tell you anything about it. And that, in and of itself, is a major recommendation.
Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews710 followers
August 13, 2015
Once in a while, you might get the urge to pick up a book that is decades old. That is how I felt when I decided to pick up this delicious fantasy from the 80’s on a friend’s recommendation (after waiting over a year to find and purchase a copy!). I read the blurb and had thought I would love this book but had no idea just how much until I finished the book. I ended up spending all night reading this book and didn’t regret it one bit. This is not a book to be devoured but rather cherished and I cherished every minute spent reading it.

One of my favorite things about this book (unsurprisingly) is the fact that we get to see a woman in the position of power. Our main character happens to be a colonel and a very trusted one. She has worked hard to get to that position and you can see how much she deserves it. Tevra is a formidable character and I had so much fun being in her brain. I loved her strength and her ability to keep her head straight. Certain things might escape her notice but she was so professional and I LOVED it. What I also adored was her relationship with a certain Hetwith.

I will say that if you are one to enjoy fantasy aspects more than relationships this book may not be for you. I think a lot of this book is about Tevra and her growth and her relationships with people around her. It’s not that there aren’t fantastical elements to the novel (I mean, it is a fantasy) or that they aren’t well developed or even that they aren’t of importance. It’s just that this book is more about Tevra’s personal journey rather than it is about all the adventures in this fantastical world (although there are some adventures so don’t feel disappointed!)

I had so much fun reading this book and watching Tevra develop over the course and the first thing I did the morning after I had finished this book was re-reading my favorite bits. I think I’ve done a lot of that in the past several days just because of how much I enjoyed this book. It’s definitely up there with some of my favorite fantasy reads and I definitely want to find time to re-read the book in the future.
Profile Image for Andrea.
Author 25 books784 followers
August 7, 2017
"Taming the Forest King" has so many things I like. An intelligent, active woman facing and effectively dealing with a series of problems with a mix of logic, honour and gritty determination. Tevra is a career soldier who has been sent to take command of a distant province which has been falling apart through mismanagement and greed. The province certainly needs someone to step in, but naturally there are people who stand to lose from - or at least resent - such an intervention. Tevra has a particular challenge because culturally the forest kingdom is all "women belong to men and can't be in command".

Tevra is a great character, facing up to the nastier aspects of her work, trying to work her way toward just solutions. The people under her command respect and trust her implicitly because she's proven herself to them over and over. She's a little overly strict with herself (and a little hot-headed in actual combat) but a good person you really want to succeed. We only really meet one of the people under her command - her second Hetwith - but I very very much wanted Hetwith to succeed as well. :)

At the same time, not a five star book for me, for much the same reason Bright and Shining Tiger is not: to get to the very satisfying conclusion I had to suffer through tropes which I don't enjoy at all.

None of these issues were enough to stop me enjoying the story – they just happen to be romantic tropes which rub me completely the wrong way.
Profile Image for Heather ~*dread mushrooms*~.
Author 19 books488 followers
August 10, 2016
This wasn't the most evenly plotted book, not to mention the title is rather misleading. But I enjoyed it. I wish the aspects of the world had been shown to greater advantage and that the characters' relationships had been given more room to flourish. I loved that Tevra was older (thirty-seven) and a good soldier. The romantic parts were thoroughly enjoyable, and the ending made me smile.

Here's what I REALLY wish would have happened though:

3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Isa Lavinia.
604 reviews303 followers
January 1, 2015

Actual rating: 2,5 stars

This book was recommended to me by Goodreads itself, based on my ratings and my favourite genres. To be fair, Goodreads tends to get it right. Not this time, though.

First of all forget the title. It has absolutely nothing to do with the story.
I picked up this book thinking, "Yay! A book from the 80's! No clichés that became obnoxiously ubiquitous in recent times!" Yeah... no.
Heads up, this book contains a love triangle - that by itself made me want to put it aside. But I had actually ordered it for my birthday...

So onto the plot. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of good things about it. Tevra, our main character, is at the top of her career. She's a no nonsense lady, she navigates well the sexist culture and the political traps that keep springing up.

That is, until she meets the Forest King and starts falling apart over her attraction to him.
Despite being a strong and observant character (you can't get to her post without a gift for reading people) she is blind until the very end about the feelings of her closest friend/soldier, Hetwith. This dude could not have been more blatant about his interest.

The Forest King is basically an underdeveloped wishy-washy idiot who had been raised to be king but was so inept that he'd probably wear his crown pointy-side down.

Another thing, Tevra kind of sets out to be this experienced woman, one who's had lovers in the past and is unashamed and in control of her sexuality (as she should be). Yet, get her near a love interest and she acts like an inexperienced virgin.

Conclusion: a nice fantasy with well developed political intrigues, that got swamped by a love triangle and trite romance.
Profile Image for Linda.
171 reviews21 followers
August 13, 2016
Tevra is a great character and I liked reading about her tactics as Viceroy, so it's too bad she basically gets dragged into an idiotic romantic tug of war. I get that this is an old skool fantasy novel, but

I like romance novels but honestly this is one of the cases where I think she would have been better off telling both sides of the love triangle to fuck off and riding off into the sunset alone. There was a point in this book where both the dudes made arguments for why the other shouldn't be with her and I thought "yes, actually, you both suck." Also, she's 37, not sixteen but somehow stick in some light petting and she's blushing and upset. Woman, you are almost forty and a colonel.
Profile Image for Belinda Vlasbaard.
3,287 reviews60 followers
June 29, 2022
4,25 stars - English Ebook

The story was beautifully written with great attention to character quirks and attributes. Ignore the trope cover and the misleading title--there is no "taming" of any king.

But instead the subduing of a forest kingdom. Regardless--Very enjoyable, with a touch of action, love triangle romance, and a strong morally upstanding heroine.

I would have liked more world building and more info on the supernatural enemies. It was pleasantly focused on a female lead and discussed inequality of rank and sex.
Profile Image for Angell.
369 reviews181 followers
May 9, 2023
I really enjoyed this. It was fun and interesting.
Profile Image for Griffin.
273 reviews31 followers
January 31, 2019
What a beautiful book- and the great news is that the sequels are almost as good! Romance, action, plot twist- this book has it all. Definitely worth hunting down a copy, although it is out of print, not on Kindle, and only available used.

A shame that the writer died before continuing her works, because you're going to be wanting much more after this one.
Profile Image for Laura (Kyahgirl).
2,094 reviews143 followers
May 29, 2011
(3.5/5; 4 stars; B+)
I heard about this book on a 'Best of' Sci-Fi and Fantasy book list on a forum I had come across a few years ago. Most of the authors were people I had never heard of so I printed off that list and started looking for these books that people cared enough about to put on the list. That is how I discovered Steven Gould and Doranna Durgin, two authors I really like.

Anyway, this book, published in 1986 was not to be found in the library or the used book stores. I did come across it on ebay some time later and bought it.
I think this book is a classic kind of fantasy story somewhat like early Patricia Briggs. There were many elements I like: competent, mature female protagonist, open minded, strong male, horses, monsters, misunderstood but basically decent outlaws, magic.

I look at the era this book was written and maybe it explains the one thing that really grated on me....Colonel Terva, the female commander of the calvary, was fixated on how old, used up, and unattractive she was. She was a rip roaring 37 years of age. Over and over she berated herself for feeling attracted to some men in the story and never for a moment, considered there might be something they would see in her because she was such an 'old soldier'. As far as I can tell the author was in her forties when she published this book so maybe she was feeling aged. I probably would have rated it four stars if not for this factor.
Profile Image for Jenny Schwartzberg.
78 reviews28 followers
May 12, 2011
I've had this book since it came out. I took it down from my keeper shelves to reread it and enjoyed it as much as ever. The cover is rather stupid, since the heroine is a soldier, viceroy, and governor, and wears practical clothes most of the time and gowns when she absolutely has to for formal events. Yes, there is magic and adventure in this book, but what I enjoy the most are the nuts and bolts of governing a rebellious region, duty and honor, and yes, a romance thread. There are two younger men interested in Tevra and she has trouble believing they are serious. I rooted for the guy she chose though I liked the other guy too, but it was clear how much she fit with her choice. I'm rather kicking myself for giving away Edwards' other books in a long-ago weeding of my collection. As I remember it, they were pretty good reads, but not as good as this one. Still I may try to track down copies to reread them...
Profile Image for Nicole.
682 reviews21 followers
March 31, 2008
Tevra, a Colonel in the Light Cavalry, has been sent to relieve the corrupt representative of the King in the vassal Forest-Kingdom. There she deals with things military and things unexplainable with near unshakable aplomb. Or she does until things get outside the military guide lines she has built her life and veer into the personal. It seems her second in command and the once Forest King are setting for a conflict but of a personal nature where she has no command. Tevra trusts Hetwith, her second, implicitly from years of shared campaining but had little understanding of him as a person. Their relations as officer and subordinate stand as a part of the conflicts that arise with the Forest people's ex-King Dard.
Astonishingly strong characters in this novel. By far the best this author wrote.
Profile Image for Estara.
799 reviews128 followers
August 8, 2010
I see this mostly as a book of self-discovery and realization of self-worth by the heroine who learns to deal with events outside her comfort zone (as a very competent colonel in service to her King).

This includes having to realize that two equally worthy men love her for what and who she is - and who of the two she should let herself love - never having believed herself worthy of love.

And meanwhile she solves all the problems of the situation her King has send her to solve. Not too shabby for a female in fantasy in the 80s.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Carla Gouws.
53 reviews
July 20, 2019
Some readers felt that the protagonist is a bit slow, to them i say that none are so blind as those who do not wish ro see. It was a fun read, i would have preferred that the forest king was the tall dark handsome type though but thats just personal preference.
Profile Image for Darla Stokes.
295 reviews12 followers
March 10, 2013
4.5 stars

This was a surprising little gem. I'd found it at the flea market and, for 33¢, I couldn't resist the female warrior--in chain mail, yet, instead of a bikini!--and the pristine condition. (ahhhh... new books. the tight pages, the smooth cover, the unbroken spine, the story waiting to be discovered... give me a moment here.)

It's a short book, only 215 pages, from 1986. Colonel Tevra has been called to the forest lands to investigate the myriad problems besetting them: from a corrupt governor to supernatural attacks. At her side is her ever-faithful Second (XO), Hetwith.

She's aided and romanced by the Forest King of the title, Dard.

Taming the Forest King is as much a romance as it is a fantasy, but it's all the better because the focus is on the fantasy. The worldbuilding is vivid, the society rich with details. The various supernatural creatures and the way magic works aren't described very thoroughly, but it's enough--they're consistent, and clear enough that the story makes sense.

Tevra does veer awfully close to the TSTL line on occasion--not in her professional capacity--she's a very capable officer, and is highly respected for good reason--but in her personal life. She's very dense when it comes to realizing that she's actually the center of a romantic triangle. She's saved--barely--by her focus on her duty and military ethics, and by the fact that it fits her character to view emotions and sexual attraction as inconveniences to be ignored when duty doesn't permit indulgence. In short, she represses what she sees as inappropriate emotions, and in doing so, is blind to their mirror in others.

I was disappointed to find that Claudia J. Edwards only has a handful of books, none of them still in print. I'll be looking for them anyway.
Profile Image for Becky.
263 reviews125 followers
October 22, 2013
3.5 stars!
I might be giving Taming the Forest King just a tad too much credit because I haven't been real pleased with much of anything I've picked up lately.

I'm just so over being SO OVER everything I've attempted to read.

At least this book surprised me. Genuinely, wasn't expecting, didn't see it coming with less than subtle hints, surprise!

Ugh, this is really hard to do without spoilers. Impossible even, because the very thing I loved about this novel is too spoilery to mention.

It wasn't the only thing I liked. The characters were great, Terva was unconventional but easy to relate to. She might have been a little too uptight, but you have to admire her drive and self control.

The book read like it was going to be some sort of dry and dusty war tome but then sort of morphed into a bit of a romance novel. At one point I was even thinking it was becoming a little too drama-ery for the setting and tone that the author had originally set. But in a good way, I think Edwards really pulled it off.

The writing was fantastic, the plot solid and not the least contrived, the description of people and place came across as authentic and of course I loved the magical elements. They were not, however, a big piece of the action. It was a bit like GRRM in that aspect. You know there's magic, but it's not used all that much.

Anyway I can see I'm all over the board with this review. Just believe that the book was good and worth reading. I'm just not sure if it's one of those memorable ones that will stick with you for a long time or not.
Profile Image for Tiffany Dominguez.
Author 2 books24 followers
January 23, 2013
I ordered this book off of Amazon because of another goodreads friend's recommendation...it's out of print now, so I snagged a used copy.

My daughter glanced at it and said, "the writing is so small!" So yes, it was published a while ago. But this is one of those timeless fantasies that doesn't diminish over time. The main character, a 30-something Colonel in the King's Army is one of the best SHOWING examples of a kick-butt female I've seen. So SO many books just tell us how tough the MC is by showing us violent thoughts or threats but this author presents the real deal. The Colonel is battle-crazy but not blood-thirsty, able to lead but doesn't relish power or executions, and overall, has a generous amount of compassion.

My only quibble is that at times I wanted to strangle her! She had two men clearly in love with her (though that's not the main focus of the book, it's a large part,) and she was SO BLIND. Bordering on ridiculous at times.

Sweet, charming ending. Compelling characters. Nice fantasy world. I loved that the king was a just one. Loved how tough the MC was. It's a great read for fantasy fans who like some romance thrown in.
Profile Image for Lauren.
10 reviews
September 4, 2013
It was looking like a 4 star book until I read the last 15 pages. The ending makes me so angry, because it violates the whole point of character growth by Tevra, and just seems a shabby way to end the story.
It was a great book with wit and originality, strong and like able character's. There were some problems with logic, like why the princess was released so many times and allowed to attempt multiple assassinations of Tevra. But the way the romance triangle resolved itself was outrageous and completely clouds my opinion of the book. I could barely finish the book, I was rolling my eyes so much.
I would advocate people read it for themselves and decide, but be prepared. The title is vastly deceiving!
Profile Image for Lesley.
492 reviews49 followers
August 4, 2017
3.5 Stars

I love old-school thrift store fantasy gems! This is a romance at its core with an adorable love triangle. The heroine, Tevra, fights against female stereotypes in the kind of unsubtle way that reminds me of Jennifer Roberson’s Tiger and Del books. She's a capable, badass commander who excels at combat and politicking, but completely flounders in the love department. Overall, Taming the Forest King is a very short book - there’s hardly any time for worldbuilding or fleshing out supporting characters - but it’s a fun, entertaining read. I recommend it for fans of light, character-driven fantasy romance.
Profile Image for Emily Larkin.
Author 32 books341 followers
May 23, 2020
I love this book! There’s magic and monsters, action and adventure, and an amazing kick-butt military commander heroine with a wonderfully flawed second-in-command hero. Oh, and a love triangle. The story of Tevra (the commander) finding Hetwith (the 2IC) sitting on the steps tugs on my heartstrings every time. TAMING THE FOREST KING is a book I’ve reread many times over the years, but alas, it’s not available as an ebook, otherwise I’d reread it today. If you find a secondhand copy, snatch it up!
Profile Image for Lorena.
1,016 reviews182 followers
March 27, 2012
A fun read with a great, strong, female protagonist. I could quibble about the fact that the setting and the plot could have been a little more fleshed out, and transformed this from a really good book to a fantastic book, but...eh. It was a good, light read.
Profile Image for Text Addict.
432 reviews35 followers
May 13, 2014
Seriously off-base descriptive text on this book - it's more original than it seems at first glance (oy, that cover!). But subtlety doesn't fit well into a couple of paragraphs written by the Marketing Department, I guess.
83 reviews1 follower
November 11, 2009
Comfort re-read. Having a hard time getting wound up about anything except non-fiction right now.
Profile Image for Claire.
Author 1 book40 followers
June 24, 2020
3.5 stars.
Okay. I really enjoyed reading this book. But I don’t agree with the ending. I don’t think she ended up with the right guy. Tevra as a character rocked, the fantasy world was fun, buuutt this was a love triangle I wasn’t down with! I did appreciate that both men (Hetwith the second in command and Dard the Forest King) has strengths and flaws, they felt very real. They both had jealous moments and times where they tried to act for her, so I won’t ding either of them for that.
But (spoiler!) Tevra ends up with the guy she’s known for 10 years, and I wasn’t thrilled about it? But with the length of the book, I think many more pages would’ve been needed to make her ending up with Dard believable. I think it could’ve been done! If the world had been expanded in that direction with more time given to his search for his own position in the forest’s new power structure I think it would’ve. But this is a 1-POV book and so that didn’t happen. Sigh.
However, as it stands, basically the reader (and everybody but Tevra) has known Hetwith is in love with her for so long, but it just never feels like an equal partnership because they’re of different ranks and power dynamics and everything....Dard felt like the better choice because he had power of his own as a sorcerer. Also wasn’t super thrilled with the “I’ve been in love with you for so long, so I with love for you, thought about killing my self because you never noticed me that way” explanations and justifications on Hetwith’s part. Bleh.) They justified her suddenly falling in love with him by basically acknowledging she willfully lied to herself for 10 years because she couldn’t be with a subordinate and I didn’t like that either. It often felt more like humoring a younger, more junior officer the way you deem anybody younger than a year or two of you a kid. 🥴
Maybe I’m irked because it followed a much more “fantasy” plot line than a romantic beat plot line.
First 90% of book: great. End: unfulfilling. (It’s called Taming the Forest King! Misleading title for sure. 😕)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
245 reviews6 followers
February 10, 2019

DNF @ 47%

Intersting story but I felt the author spent too much on the mundane aspect for the first 20% of the story... And then the love triangle was pretty stupid, especially with Tevra's, the heroine, second-in-command, Hetwith. He's been shagging every moving girl he sees for 10 years and suddenly he claims he's in loved with the heroine all that time and that Tevra should refuse all suitors who make her sexually desired except for him?

Tevra is 37 years old, who's beyond capable that meretriciously rose through the ranks to become a viceroy, had lovers in the past and then suddenly became a virgin-like ninny because Hetwith forcefuly pinned her down and spit all those lame reasons out? I dunno... I suppose these old fashion rapey situations were in the fad back then. The cynic in me have a hard time beliving that Hetwith's bullshit.

The prose and overall story is very well done but the romantic aspect is poorly written and out of character for the heroine's supposed background and character description. That is what I just could not stomach.

Profile Image for boudour.
138 reviews3 followers
July 24, 2018
What a lovely little story. I went in expecting a tropey enemies to lovers story with a Fae-like Forest King, inhumanely handsome and powerful (which would have suited me just fine, that's music to my id) and instead I got this thoughtful story and loveable characters. The friendship, loyalty (and when it came to it, yes, romance) all creeped up on me, I just loved the interplay between the characters. Tevra was in turn strong and vulnerable, canny and obtuse, a pleasure of a female protagonist pov.

The plot and setting felt realistic without bothering with lengthy, fantasy style exposition.

A wonderful and lovely self-contained story.
Profile Image for Samah Khan.
50 reviews11 followers
November 20, 2019
I’m giving this book 3.75/5 on how much of a fun, short read it was. It was the book equivalent of a quick, but pleasurable, romp in the hay. Warning to anyone who reads it: the blurb is deceiving. The story has nothing much to do with taming a forest king. It’s a love triangle centred on a woman who is one of the strongest female protagonists I have ever read. And the ending was satisfying for the time it took to get there, but it didn’t feel boring to read because the writing was very enjoyable. There was not much fantasy in the book, it was more military than anything else, but it was fun to read all the same.
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