fantasy and science fiction book reviewsIn Thunder Forged by Ari Marmell speculative fiction book reviewsIn Thunder Forged by Ari Marmell

To:  Military Subcommittee, Colonial Council, Kingdom of Fantasy Literature

Month of Summer Solstice, in the Year of the Brazilian World Cup

Re: Codename In Thunder Forged, After Action Report

Honorable Council:

Herewith my report on the targeted objective, codename In Thunder Forged. In reviewing reports for this mission I noted that your intelligence analysts theorized that In Thunder Forged may have been based on a video game, specifically, the game WARMACHINE. Our Preliminary Engagement Troops (PETs) immediately encountered espionage, loud and colorful explosions, unlimited magic that worked for no known reason, Pacific-Rim-like warbots and a stream of expository dialogue, confirming the analysts’ theory. However, the PETs had no trouble crossing the perimeter and moving among the locals, who were quite welcoming.

Our Plot Accessibility/Worldbuilding Specialists (PAWS) found the geography and politics understandable if a little bit simple. Town and city development was basic but sufficient and the high levels of action compensated for any weaknesses in this area. In particular, the PAWS commented on the lovely fashion sense of many of the locals who hold positions in the nobility, and the inclusion of a playwright and a troupe of traveling players in the story.

PAWS noted that the plot involves three countries, two of whom are at war; a secret formula; spying, and double-crosses. Our people would have no trouble adjusting to any of those points if engagement were to continue.

Redshirt Utilization Numeration Squad (RUNS) observed that the objective is willing to sacrifice many secondary and even primary characters to demonstrate the seriousness of the plot.

Dialogue Rating and Assessment Teams (DRATs) had high expectations, since the objective was planned and created by Ari Marmell. They were not disappointed, rating the dialogue at Good to Very Good. One DRAT member commented, “Brisk, snappy dialogue keeps the story moving along at a good clip.”

The newly-formed Character Outreach Worker (COW) unit initially had some trouble with characters who were identified primarily by military rank and not by name. In one case, two characters who frequently interacted held the same rank. COW pointed out that while initially confusing, this point was actually utilized by the plot (a point confirmed independently by the PAWS). Generally, they rated Character as Good to Very Good.

The Strong Women and Big Swords (SWABS) team members reported they located four strong female characters within the perimeter; two warriors and two undercover operatives, comprising more than one-half of the primary character contingent.

The teams encountered no sabotage or hostilities from the locals and found the native tongues easy to understand. Religion, social mores, gender roles, socio-economic differences and the role of commerce are not addressed in this report because except for one reference to a deity, we couldn’t really find any of those things.

Findings and Recommendation: In sum, we found the area to be friendly and welcoming to tourists and potential colonists. To beg to council’s indulgence and employ a vernacular expression, we find codename In Thunder Forged to be “a good popcorn book.” I recommend continued engagement of the objective and continued involvement with future projects within the perimeter.

Respectfully Submitted,

Aspersion Miripoix, Field Analyst Third Grade

Publication Date: June 4, 2013. The first novel based upon the award-winning WARMACHINE® steam-powered fantasy wargame and the world of the Iron Kingdoms® Role Playing Game is an action-packed steam-tech fantasy that combines elements of epic wartime adventure with thrilling cloak-and-dagger espionage. The Iron Kingdoms are at war–a war fought with machine guns and magic, knights of valor, and earth shaking titans of steam and steel. And now that war may hinge entirely on nothing more than a sheaf of papers. An alchemical formula, stolen by an ally they thought they could trust, could cost the brave soldiers of Cygnar everything. Their only hope: a cunning spy, a knight out of her element, and a frighteningly small unit of the best that Cygnar has to offer. Arrayed against them is not only a single, devious enemy, but the combined intelligence apparatus–and possibly the full military might–of the most brutal martial power Cygnar has ever known.


  • Marion Deeds

    Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town.

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