Review: Reforged by Seth Haddon
Since time immemorial the warriors of the Paladin Order have harnessed arcane powers to protect their rulers. For Balen, who has given up his chance at love and fought his way to the top of the Paladin Order, there can be no greater honor than to serve his king. But when assassins annihilate the royal family, Balen suddenly finds himself sworn to serve the very man he abandoned.
Now with their nation threatened by enemies both within and outside the kingdom, Balen must fight hidden traitors and unnatural assassins, while also contending with the biting wit and dangerous charm of young King Zavrius. To save themselves and their nation they will have to put aside their past and reforge that trust they lost so long ago.
I think that before I go any further with this review, I have to clarify something. I glanced at several reviews before I purchased this book. I try very hard not to do so if I am buying the book I wanted to review, but occasionally it happens and I really regret that I did that. Why you ask? Because several reviewers listed it as one of their issues with the book that the main characters made foolish choices throughout the story.
I certainly criticized characters in the books I reviewed for making foolish choices and I am sure will do so again. And even though everyone has their own criteria as to which choices they consider foolish, I still went in with some extra nervousness, even though for me content very much matters as to whether I think that characters are not drawn well, when they do stupid things. I am sure that no matter how hard I try, some part of my own experiences comes in when I want to scream at the character and say “Oh man, you are stupid and what you are doing is not enjoyable for me to read about” BUT more often than not I am attempting to think about characters’ choices as whether it fits the narrative or not and whether characters just make sense or not. They don’t need to always make smart choices to make sense for me.
Bottom line – I have had no problems with the choices either Ballen or Zavrius made. I remember reading in the review that the king, Zavrius, kept secrets from his Palladin. I mean, how stupid king can be to keep secrets from the one person whose duty is to protect the King and die for him if necessary? Well, let me put this way, one actual pretty BIG secret Zavrius kept made perfect sense to me considering what was happening around him and how he had to constantly look over his shoulder for traitors.
I loved, loved how well the world building was done, especially how the information which made the world clearer and clearer was fed to the reader in the small doses throughout the book. It is as if the author gave me a chance to try to figure out stuff on my own, but then left me more and more clues where world building was concerned. I always say that I prefer when I am thrown out into the new world when I am reading a fantasy book rather than reading a long info dump disguised as prologue, but I also don’t like when I am still confused how this imaginary world works after I finished the book and I certainly was not confused here when I was done. The magic involved in the story was not particularly ground breaking and if you are a fantasy fan, you have seen the basic elements in other books, but author’s take on it and specifics involved made it fun for me to read about.
In my opinion the book is first and foremost a fantasy, but it also has romantic storyline with happy ending. I was about to say that it is not a Romance because it does not build a relationship per se, but in a way Zavrius and Balen finding their way back to each other amongst all the danger and intrigue (from the blurb you can see that they had been lovers but broke up before) is a story that can be pictured as pure Romance too? Maybe it is both? I liked both men, they certainly were not perfect and were not always making the best choices but as I said to me their characterizations and their choices made sense.
One real annoyance, and that was a pretty big annoyance, in the whole book for me was one of the villains. I am struggling to explain why without spoilers, so I hope this will be sufficiently vague. The author tried really hard to
The problem for me was that
But overall I am very happy that I have read this one.
Ooh that sounds so good and I loved your intro at the beginning of the review where you said that context matters to whether you see a character’s choice as stupid. I couldn’t agree more. One thing that used to really bother me that I don’t see so much of these days was that with regard to m/f romances readers would sometimes say the heroine was stupid not to trust the hero with her secret. Why? She doesn’t know him that well–that’s the context in the story. It makes sense not to trust him. But for readers the context is that they know that these two people will end up together happily ever after at the end of the book. So they expect the one character to be on board even though they don’t have that much reason, story-wise, to trust the other character. I mean (in regard to m/f) she doesn’t know he’s the hero of the book and she’s going to marry him.
Anyway, this book sounds really good and I wish I knew what held you back from loving it but I don’t want to spoil it for myself because I just might read it. This is the kind of antagonists to lovers story I actually enjoy–it’s not a business rivalry from the shop across the street, it’s actual baggage from the past that is carried into today. I love reunited lovers stories and I love when two people with some tension between them are forced to work together. So this has a lot of tropes I’m into. And I like the way you described the introduction of the world.
I forgot to say that I think this cover is really good too. I really like the use of light and shadow, the complementary colors and the sense of motion. Motion on covers often grabs me. The title is an attention grabber too.
Hi Janine . Oh man I am nervous about you reading this one . I mean themes wise it may be your cup of tea but I don’t know how well executed you will find it . I find that if I find the book truly excellent ( again like KD Edwards’ ones ) and if the topic is for you then it may work for you . If I find the book just good or even very good – I don’t know . We shall see. Re: secrets yes absolutely – very often it makes sense for me if the character keeps those for some time even from the love interest .
Hm, I am trying to think about why I didn’t give higher grade . I mean it made perfect sense in my head but not on paper . It is not a satisfying read to me for the most part . I mean I was mostly happy with the ending ( except that silliness with one of the villains ), but during almost the whole story I felt kind of dizzy because of the king constantly having to look over his shoulders .
It made sense for the story and for what was happening because that’s how one would feel constantly thinking about who will try to kill Jim next ( or who is behind all the plots ). You cannot trust anyone etc . More over you want to trust your former lover who left you to train to be the Prime palladin ( the one who protects the king ) but even that comes with the twist so you have as far as I am concerned perfectly valid reason to doubt him as well.
I used to judge whether book deserves an A based on several things and one of them was whether book will be a reread . This one I am 99 percent positive – never will be . I don’t just reread super fluffy books but to bring KD Edwards again I reread his second book twice already – it is much more sunny than this book where atmosphere is concerned and we know that plenty of bad things happened in those books too .
And yes I really loved the cover too .
@Sirius: Don’t be nervous, if a book doesn’t work for me I never hold it against the person who recommended it. In general your recommendations work for me more often than not and that’s plenty good enough. I will let you know.
Thanks for the feedback about why it wasn’t an A, that’s good to know. Without reading it I can’t say if I will feel the same but I rarely give A’s so most likely it won’t be one for me.
My K.D. Edwards review runs tomorrow! It may be up by the time you see this.