"Forged in Death" is the first installment in Jim Melvin's six volume "Death Wizard Chronicles."
Torg is a "Death Knower," a thousand year old, super-powerful leader of his warrior tribe, the Tugars. There's a bad wizard named Invictus, and his henchman, named Mara. So, Invictus has Mara throw Torg into a malevolent prison pit. Then Sobhana, this hot, fierce, Tugar warrior girl--who is as smitten with Torg as he is with her--tries to rescue him from the pit. She climbs down a rope to him, then has to climb back up the rope, and gets pounded by a giant spider. Or rock-eating people. I can't remember. But finally, Torg, who's been horribly weakened, finally climbs out of the pit, after dying briefly and recharging his energy. (Sorta like Ultraman getting a solar boost, I guess). He finds Sobhana when she's about to die. There's a thing Tugars do, where a living warrior basically kisses a dying warrior, and absorbs their life essence and part of their spirit. So Torg finally gets to make out with Sobhana. This pleases Sobhana, who realizes, once part of her spirit is inside Torg, that he has always reciprocated her love, but couldn't be with her, because he had sex with a woman once, and
his orgasm caused her to explode into smithereens, and set the area around them on fire
. However, an ancient and evil she-demon has Torg captured, and insists on mounting him. Torg tries to refuse, but the ghost of a little blind girl tells him not to resist having this demoness screw his brains out, because the resulting child will be crucial to bringing down Invictus. So she mounts him; they both orgasm spectacularly, killing a bunch of cave trolls or something, then she leaves. Torg gets sucked into a giant pit of magma, but doesn't get too badly burned, and ends up being stalked through pitch-black caves by a giant worm monster, then rescued by friendly monkey people, who nurse Torg back to health. (In case you're wondering, Torg did catch some sort of maleficent spiritual STD from the demon, but a magical woman later cures him of this soul herpes by fellating him beneath magical trees.)
If you only read my previous paragraph, you might think "Forged in Death" is just a messy jumble of a book, and that I didn't enjoy it. Neither of these is wholly true.
It took me maybe a third of the book before I felt bonded with it, and around the two-thirds mark I was riveted.
Then it just ended. Torg was having one of his occasional flashback dreams, and that was it. Pouf. Welcome to the Glossary.
I said something literary and intelligent, like "Are you fucking KIDDING me?"
I understand that this is a six part chronicle. However, research has proved the possibility of ending each novel in a series with a decent resolution. The Harry Potter series, for example, was a septology, but each book simultaneously had its own resolution, while also forwarding the series toward its preordained conclusion. Thus, you have seven books, each of which works as an independent novel.
The ending to this book might be great, if you're used to reading books with the last half chapter torn out. Maybe this is the author's device for getting us on to the next book, and I suppose I can understand that. I suppose that perhaps the author can understand, too, that I will never open any of the remaining five volumes in the series.
"Forged in Death" was a hard book to fall in love with. There is this huge mythology we have to pick up on the fly, and the characters seem as dry as their desert home, and as cold as the mountains they encounter. Many of the "noble" characters seem priggish, and the dread-wizard, Invictus, is really the only character who seems to enjoy life. Despite all the obstacles the book threw at me, I DID get into it. I followed all the characters' odd behaviors, shadowed them through dangerous situations, accepted that they were nearly all damn-near unlikable, and slogged through this overubiquitous "Ancient tongue" (An English derivative of Pali, a Middle Indo-Aryan language related to Sanskrit, but now extinct as a spoken language. (I didn't figure this out on my own: the author explains this after the abrupt ending (I didn't care where the Ancient tongue originated; I just wanted it to go away, for it was completely unnecessary (Seriously, why blast out a 20 word sentence in the Ancient Tongue, only to follow it with the English translation? It's just a waste of words, unless the author's secret mission is to resurrect Pali)))).
Despite the various structural challenges forged into "Forged in Death," I found myself invested in the story, and then--
Book-lover blue balls.
I mildly regret that I'll never know how Torg and the gang ultimately fare, and I do wish them well. However, they will meet their fates without my company. Pity. They deserve better.