Ughhhh… I’m just so upset that I took so long to pick up this trilogy. I can’t thank the hosts of YARC enough for encouraging me to pick up more Asian authored books and I can confidently say that I’ll be continuing to read them long after this challenge is over. And I also have to thank my dear friend Krisha @ Bookathon for gushing a lot about this trilogy and finally making me read it. I’m so glad to finally have joined this bandwagon because The Heart Forger is truly brilliant.
The plot is so much more interesting in this book than it’s predecessor. We get to know more about the Faceless, their kind of dark magic and lots more about their quest for immortality. The world is also expanded more because the characters travel to a new kingdom and we get to know about the rulers and customs of the place. There is also a lot more action in this one, and I was very impressed by these sequences – I totally wanted to see them on screen. The author also continues telling the story in two timelines, with the major part closing towards the events happening in the Bard’s present timeline and it creates a lot of suspense and anticipation, making me not want to put down the book at all. However, the best part I think about this book was how it challenged gender roles and heteronormativity. Both Likh and Khalad’s journey of trying to live their truth was very powerful and I think the author did a great job showing us their inherent strength, while also providing them a lot of support from their friends.
The characters are definitely the true heart of this book. Tea is such a delight to read about. She has grown so much, learning more about her abilities and responsibilities and helping people when needed. She is stubborn and impulsive and doesn’t always think through her actions, but she is very selfless and loyal and just wants to protect her friends at any cost to herself. That makes her transition into almost an antihero in the Bard’s timeline very fascinating, leaving us with many questions. Despite her possible descent into the dark side, we can never stop loving her or rooting for her to succeed because her heart is always in the right place, and she just wants to prove that she is not as evil as everyone thinks she’ll become, while also protecting everyone around her.
The relationships in this series are so beautiful and each of them is special in its own way. Tea and Fox’s sibling relationship is probably one of my favorites ever and they argue and bicker, but always have each other’s back. The lengths to which Tea is ready to go to ensure Fox survives made me wanna cry. Her friendships with Mykaela, Althy, Polaire, Zoya were all amazing in their own ways and the scenes where they all fought together were awesome. I also particularly enjoyed her dynamic with Khalad because their destinies are so interconnected, making them indispensable to each other, but they actually end up becoming friends who care for and respect the other a lot. Likh is probably the sweetest cinnamon roll of the group, so adorable and kind but also smart and brave and all the scenes where the gang stood by his side and encouraged him were so heartwarming.
I knew this book was going to have more of the romance of the main leads but the development of it was so much better than I expected. It was so emotional and angsty and beautifully written, and I completely fell for them and they’ll probably end up being one of my favorite couples of this year. We also have a lovely sapphic relationship, and the banter between the two girls is super entertaining and oh so precious. There is also one character who has a crush on another, and it’s so so sweet and adorable, but I don’t know if it’ll actually develop into more.
Finally, I don’t even know what I can say about this book other than just pick it up. As much as I enjoyed The Bone Witch, this is a step up – with expansive world building, lots more action and dark magic and phenomenal characters that you will root for every step of the way. If you haven’t read this trilogy yet, I promise you are missing out. This sequel answered many questions but left me with many more, and now all I want to do is jump right into the finale.