I received an ARC of The Forester Trilogy from netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.
This was a slower and enjoyable read for me. I originally chose the title because the book is LGBTQ Fantasy. I started reading it for the Diversathon hashtag. Life has been exploding all around me, and this book became a welcome retreat from real life. I loved the realistic qualities of the world and characters the author gave me. There is just enough difference from the real world that it enchanted me without making me roll my eyes at unrealistic concepts/differences. IE: When writing fantasy a lot of authors overwhelm with made up words and concepts. Mx. Arden neatly avoided that problem.
I enjoyed the first PPOV in the story, a crime fighting elf! Awesome. Adored every aspect of it.
I loved the sexual energy and build up leading to the (smoking hot) conclusion in Act one.
I absolutely adore seeing someone else who writes polyamory the way it actually IS. For that reason alone I’ll be investigating anything else the author chooses to write. (It has nothing to do with the steamy sex scenes, not a thing… and if you believe that I have a bridge to sell you, it’s in my pocket!)
While it usually takes me much less time to finish a book than it did this one, it’s because I savored this book. I enjoyed the author’s turn of phrase and concepts so much that I read slowly, something I don’t usually do. (That said, I finished the first act in a couple of hours… I HAD to keep reading and it kept me up past my bedtime.)
Readability: 5/5 stars: I wanted to finish reading the book and the characters were very ‘real’ to me. I enjoyed their love story, the reality of their world, the conflicts they experienced and especially the realistic take on polyamory.
Arcs: 4/5 stars: The character ARC for the MC could have been a bit more well-developed, I’d have enjoyed a bit more depth to the character and felt he was a little whiney about his job at times. Too reluctant to use a gift he needed to use for his work. The reasoning behind this is explained in the novel, so it’s believable if not to my particular preference.
An odd thing I noticed which bothered me is that the only female characters were side characters or victims. While understanding that this is a book about a m/m/m triad, the world would have felt more real to me if there’d been non-romantic female or gender fluid characters the MC’s interacted more with.
Writing Craft: 4/5 stars: As stated above the character and plot arcs are well crafted, but I’d encourage the author to police the use of ‘was’ as well as filler/filter words. I’m a developmental editor, and it takes a really well crafted book to completely make me lose myself. The entire time I read, my editor brain engaged-and that is a bad thing for me. If I spot a place where a sentence can be reworded in a stronger, more active voice (usually indicated by the word ‘was’ ) it throws me out of the story. This is not likely to affect non-writers/editors, but if you’re looking for a book that has all the elements covered, be prepared to cringe a little at the craft issues. Despite a lower craft score, I still enjoyed the book very much. I had to finish it to see what happened and I’m still thinking about the characters. A little more editing work on this would have made the book shine and garnered a 5/5 star rating.
Overall Rating: 13/15 stars. Fans of LGBTQIA+, Polyamory, High Fantasy and even crime readers are likely to enjoy this book immensely. Well Done Mx. Arden, I’ll be reading more of your books.
Would I buy it for a friend? Yes, yes, yes!