The Words of Making by David Forbes

Published by EOS           
ISBN 978-0060820329    
Paperback, September 2007      
496 Pages


In The Words of Making, David Forbes expands on the rich world of Osseria he created in The Amber Wizard. In the first novel, Forbes focused on one portion of the world and one young man’s journey (Gerin Atreyano) from prince to one of the two most powerful wizards the world had ever known.  With The Words of Making, the effects of a mage such a powerful mage awakening to his powers are seen to ripple across the world .  Not only is Gerin an Amber Wizard, but the people from Havalqa (a nation across what all of Osserians thought was an un-crossable see) have attached a prophecy to Gerin, for they see him as the wielder of the Words of Making.

The novel starts out very strongly with a shipwreck and the ensuing fight between the natives (Khedeshians, the nationality of protagonist Gerin Atreyano) and a crew of zombies and monsters. Forbes did a terrific job of pulling me into the story in these opening scenes and showed the hints of a larger world – in terms of power, religion, and nations. Plus, zombie pirates – do I need to say more?

Forbes improves on his characterization in this, his second novel.  Gerin comes across more genuinely and his emotions are portrayed more realistically. All of the characters from the previous novel, in fact, show more depth in The Words of Making. Other characters do come to the fore, of course.  Not the least of which is the Voice of the Exalted, Vethiq aril Tolsadri, the headstrong leader of the Havalqa. 

In the Havalqa, Forbes gives readers a nation of religious zealots beholden to a mysterious group of creatures known as Dreamers. These people come across as powerful, uncompromising, and ruthless, but underneath all of that they also wish to prevent the coming of the Great Enemy, which has many of the qualities of the Khedeshian Adversary.  While this may seem obvious to the reader, the characters were a little slow to pick up on this relationship.

Another more personal result of the first novel Gerin must endure is the guilt he feels over the death of his sister Reshel.  Reshel sacrificed her life so that the magic Gerin unleashed in the first novel could be put to a stop.  Not only does Gerin blame himself, but his father the King blames Gerin as well.  Forbes does a nice job of conveying Gerin’s feelings and emotions in this respect.  Coupled with that, Gerin is literally tortured by Tolsadri in an attempt to extract the Words of Making.  The only problem is that Gerin truly does not know what the Words of Making are.  The clash of wills between a the world’s most powerful wizard and a man with the conviction of absolute truth built in a very satisfying manner throughout their scenes together.

On the whole, Forbes’s skill as a writer has grown, both in the breadth of his storytelling abilities and the scope of the story he seems to want to tell.  In some respects, I find the widening scope and increase in the quality of writing between book one and book two to be similar to what I saw in Joshua Palmatier’s first two novels of his Throne of Amenkor trilogy. That is, slowly introduce the character and his/her relation to their small world or nation and then expand and show how that affects and is affected by the world at large.

The only problem I had aside from some characters missing the obvious connections (like the fact that the Great Enemy and the Adversary are likely the same being) was the names.  Fortunately, as a reader, I often see names as chunks of text rather than always phonetically processing the letters into the word they would make.  In the case of the names of the Havalqa, that benefited me, but this naming technique is consistent and logical within the Havlaqa. It did serve to truly set the different nations of people apart on one more level, in addition to their beliefs and form of magic.

In the end, with The Words of Making, Forbes has crafted a first-rate follow-up to The Amber Wizard.

© 2009 Rob H. Bedford

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