Forman, “The Axe of Sundering” (reviewed by Karen Hamilton)

Review
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Title: The Axe of Sundering
Author: M.L. Forman
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Genre: Fiction
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages: 416
Binding: Hardback
ISBN-13: 978-1-60907-934-5
Price: $19.99

Reviewed by Karen Hamilton for the Association for Mormon Letters

It is with mixed feelings that I write this review. The journey that Alex, the main character, has been on has been an emotional investment. Not so long ago Alex found himself on his very first adventure, learning to believe in magic, all about honor, and to trust his new friends as well as himself. Each successive adventure let the reader become more emotionally invested in all that Alex ‘needed’ to accomplish. One of the tasks that I felt Alex needed to complete is to return the Magic Bags that he recovered during his first adventure, Slathbog’s Gold. Now we have this book that concludes the adventures. This brings me back to the mixed emotions.

At the end of the fourth book, Sands of Nezza, Alex gets an ominous warning from his Wizard Mentor, Whalen Vankin.

“Did you feel it just now?” Whalen finally asked. “A thought, a wild idea that was not your own, entering your mind?”

“Yes,” said Alex, shaken by the question.

“That is one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you, face-to-face. I didn’t think I would get the chance to see you so soon, but I’m glad you’re here,” said Whalen, getting to his feet and moving toward his horse. “I’ve had many such thoughts in the past weeks, and I am troubled by them.”
…..
Whalen shook his head. “I won’t trouble you with my guesses or suspicions. For now, it is enough to know that these thoughts are not coming from you. Now, about the reason I wanted you to come as soon as you could.”

“Whatever you need, I am ready,” said Alex.

“Yes, I’m sure you are, my friend. And what I need you to do right now is wait.”

“Wait? Wait for what?”

“Wait for me to send word or to come for you,” said Whalen. “If I send word, be ready to move. I need to find some answers to my questions, but when I am sure, we will need to move quickly.”
….
“In time,” said Whalen, turning his horse away. “I will send word when I can. If you haven’t heard from me within a month, come and find me.” (pg. 357-377, Sands of Nezza)

It was with this ominous warning at the end of the fourth book, that I eagerly picked up this new book and dove in to see how this adventure would play out.

If I had felt that the cliffhanger had left me feeling anxious, it was nothing compared to the beginning of The Axe of Sundering. This book begins with Alex losing himself in a horrid nightmare. He can’t remember who he is, no matter how hard he tries to remember; plus the more he tries to remember, the quicker he forgets.

…. “I am Alexander Taylor . . . I am Alexander . . . I am Alex . . .I am . . .” (pg. 2, The Axe of Sundering)

This is an adventure that I have been hoping for since it was suggested in The Horn of Moran, the second book in the series. At the end of the second book, Alex is asked by Whalen Vankin to take his Staff and become a true wizard. Now that the adventure is here, I am eager to see how two of the greatest Wizards of the known lands will overcome the challenges a magical adventure will bring them.

During this adventure, M.L. Forman explains more about the connections that Wizards forge while fulfilling their duties. For every act that wizards perform, and every person the wizard helps, a magical tie is forged. The bonds of a wizard are forged and the closer the bond of friendship, the stronger the bond.

Family ties and the foibles of lonely men are aired, when Whalen turns a blind, yet hopeful eye, from his nephew’s actions. It is from the desire and belief that he can teach him to be good that Whalen ignores his gut instincts. Regret can only do so much, before action is required to correct mistakes.

On this adventure the Dark Elves become less mysterious and their plight is self-inflicted. Whalen’s family gains a new depth of humanity and Alex learns why it is difficult to go back ‘home’ where time doesn’t affect you in the same way. Life can be long and lonely without friends and family.

The Axe of Sundering is a fabulous book. I highly recommend it for all to read. There are a few details that I am not happy about: 1. I still want to know about the rest of the magical bags that were recovered, where and to whom do they belong. 2. I am waiting to hear about Alex’s family. 3. What adventure is his horse going to help him on. 4. What about the visions that Alex has had of future deeds? 5. The Watchers need more explaining. 6. More Dragon stuff, and finally 7. What was his ‘Step-fathers’ role in this whole adventure. There are loose ends that I have no idea how they are going to be resolved.

When I finished the book, which is amazing, I ranted at my poor husband about all the loose ends that are left. I am hoping that M.L. Forman can keep writing to tie up the loose ends. This is a must read and an emotional journey for those of us who have followed Alex from the beginning.

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