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OVERVIEW: The Fiend and the Forge, is an unforgettable dystopian adventure across a landscape overrun with goblins and trolls. The world has changed almost beyond recognition, for with the Book of Origins firmly in his possession, the villainous Astaroth now has the power to reshape history at will. Plucking pivotal discoveries from mankind’s past, he has reduced the world to a preindustrial nightmare.
But while most humans toil as slaves within four demonic kingdoms, Astaroth allows those at Rowan to thrive in peaceful isolation. Theirs is a land where magic and nature flourish . . . so long as none dare oppose the new order.
That proves too steep a price for Max McDaniels. Unsure of his place at Rowan, Max sets out to explore the shifting landscape of the world beyond. In the course of his travels, he will become many things: Prisoner. Gladiator. Assassin. But can he become the hero that mankind so desperately needs?
FORMAT: The Fiend and the Forge is the third book in The Tapestry Series. The Tapestry Series is a children’s/YA novel with hints of magic, adventure and in this book a bit of a dystopian twist. It stands at 560 pages.
ANALYSIS: At the end of the second book, The Second Siege, I had made a comment in regards to this book’s similarity to Harry Potter. The series up to that point was very similar to Harry Potter series that it was virtually impossible for it to live up to reader’s expectations. It would take a dramatic turn of events, or a major plot twist to really win readers over and allow this series to step out of the shadows it was lurking in. Henry H. Neff does just that with this third installment of The Tapestry series.
Over the course of three books, readers have not only seen the main character Max mature and grow, but they’ve seen Neff as an author grow. There just seems to be a maturity to Neff’s descriptions and wording that was majorly lacking in the previous books. In fact, it seemed like a completely different writer. I truly believe had the other books been written at these standards this series would have gained a lot more attention.
For example, one of the most frustrating elements of the past books was Neff’s continual repetitive nature of words. The word “pudgy” comes to mind. He seemed to have gotten away from the habit of having to repeat descriptive words to readers. Another habit he broke was the constant referral to everyday objects. Readers don’t need to know that a tree is as brown as a desk or other things.
While I did enjoy this novel there is still the habit of tossing in the completely unbelievable and totally unnecessary parts of the plot. The biggest one that stuck out was the whole making Max a part of the staff. It served nothing to the plot, took away from the dark side of the book and just seemed out of place. However, these out of character plot elements were fewer and far between than previous books (think the whole element of allowing Max's dad to stay at school).
Neff really ups the ante with The Fiend and the Forge. Sure, there are many similarities to Harry Potter, but it’s almost impossible for any fantasy book not to have some traces of past successes somewhere. I really enjoyed this novel and I am proud to say that “I read Neff when” because if this is any indication to how he is as a writer, this series not only brought great plot twists but really showed that authors who apply themselves can really grow and change with the times.