Hero Forged is the debut urban fantasy by Josh Erikson and part of my new resolution to step a bit more out of my epic fantasy comfort zone to try new things! I’m prefacing my review with this useful nugget of information so you don’t bring out the pitchforks when I end up telling you this book had some great ideas but ultimately wasn’t quite for me.
I admit the opening chapters didn’t make a great first impression. I found Gabe, the smart-Alek, wise-cracking main character, to be a bit grating, pulling a little too liberally from Harry Dresden without enough redeeming qualities to make him stand out from the typical unlikeable douchebags that are difficult to root for.
In fact, I ended up championing the female lead Heather instead, a well-written, strong-willed character who spends most of the novel rolling her eyes at Gabe’s befuddlement each time he is thrust into increasingly ludicrous situations.
Speaking of well-written characters, Erickson’s prose was a definite high point. It was fast-paced and easy to read, allowing for some great snappy dialogue and spectacular action scenes. My small gripe would be he occasionally slams on the breaks to add another info-dump, or draws out the scene with another superfluous conversation. These are common first-book woes that I have fallen prey to myself, but I think they were exaggerated here by the fact that the reader is often privy to information that Gabe is not, leading to some repetitive situations.
An extra-special mention for the epigraphs which were amazing. I found myself rereading some of them several times just to fully take in the different layers. Great work.
All-in-all this is a very solid debut novel which despite its flaws managed to keep me entertained right up until its bombastic conclusion. If you’re a fan of the Dresden Files, The Iron Druid Chronicles, or the Heartstrikers, I would definitely recommend giving this one a try.