Reforged by Seth Haddon (BOOK REVIEW) || Now THIS is a fantasy

I read this right after slogging through Lightlark (that review coming as soon as I can get all my thoughts together) and Reforged was such a breath of fresh air in terms of fantasy/what I was reading right there and then.

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc through the publisher and Book Sirens in exchange for a free and honest review. The book cover and details are taken from Goodreads and the content warnings are taken from The Storygraph; from me reading the book, or from others’ reviews. I try my absolute best to find the cover art/designer but unfortunately I am not always able to do so. The page numbers/audio hours are taken from the version that I’m reading from (if an e-arc, the Kindle version then). The featured image is my own. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Reforged - SethTitle: Reforged
Author: Seth Haddon
Number of Pages: 388
Year Published: 2022
Publisher: Blind Eye Books
Cover Art/Designer: Julie Dillon
Genre: Adult ~ Fantasy ~ Romance ~ LGBTQ+ characters ~ Action and Adventure
Stars: use thisuse thisuse thisuse thisuse this
Links: Goodreads || The Storygraph
Copy: E-arc (Book Sirens)
CW/TW: (Taken from The Storygraph) Graphic: Sexual content, Cursing, Death. Moderate: Animal death, Gore, Murder. Minor: Homophobia, Terminal illness, Grief 

Since time immemorial the warriors of the Paladin Order have harnessed arcane powers to protect their rulers. For Balen, who has given up his chance at love and fought his way to the top of the Paladin Order, there can be no greater honor than to serve his king. But when assassins annihilate the royal family, Balen suddenly finds himself sworn to serve the very man he abandoned.

Now with their nation threatened by enemies both within and outside the kingdom, Balen must fight hidden traitors and unnatural assassins, while also contending with the biting wit and dangerous charm of young King Zavrius. To save themselves and their nation they will have to put aside their past and reforge that trust they lost so long ago.

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I actually was not going to read this book because I didn’t know where to get an e-arc of it. THEN I went onto Book Sirens (a site to receive e-arcs) for another book, but that wasn’t available. I just decided to scroll on the site a bit. And then I happened to see this and I clicked SO FAST because this has definitely been an anticipated release and I was so happy to have read it ahead of its release.

As I said earlier, I started this after I finished Lightlark – as much as it gave me extreme amounts of annoyance (so so much) – it was definitely the right choice to go from Lightlark to Reforged. The reason I say this is because Lightlark… is a really bad book (of course that’s just my opinion). Reforged made me remember why I like fantasies and adult fantasies so much. I read YA Fantasy most of the time but this just makes me want to go back to Adult Fantasies (or just find my favourites and reread them constantly 😄).

I was immediately drawn into the story – as in from the first chapter with the oath swearing ceremony, to the very last sentence – I didn’t want any of it to stop and I would have loved the book to have been longer or Haddon to write a sequel. It had all that I wanted in fantasy books, and also what I didn’t know I wanted, but was very happy to see. It had magic, mystery, intrigue, and a romance I rooted for all the way! It even had a map and difficult to pronounce proper nouns!

I first heard about the book on TikTok – from the author’s profile – and I could somehow tell I would love it. Was it because I could see the author loved fanfiction and the book read like fanfiction (a compliment)? Was it how the author presented the book? Very much so both. Haddon reads like someone who’s spent a good portion of his life between the pages of fantasy novels and several long fanfictions – you could read his passion for the genre and fanfiction throughout the novel.

The plot and world-building was done really well (even more so when I compare it to Lightlark 😄). Fantasies tend to have politics in them too, especially when a main character is royalty/involved in politics. It was well-written in here – motives and motivations, plots (not the writing kind), and plenty of intrigue to keep the reader turning the pages. The world-building was a bit simple but written well so you didn’t feel too confused by reading a fantasy book (as sometimes one is 😄) but complex enough to draw in a hard fantasy reader.

I loved the magic system and that it mostly flowed in the blood. Did I know understand what type of creature gedroks are or how the blood and the Paladins’ armour fully works? Definitely not but that was fine! I loved not understanding everything because that added to the mystery of the novel (and I actually much more enjoy a fantasy book when I don’t understand everything). I’m always a big fan of magic in books when it’s tied to emotions and that’s definitely the case in this one. I don’t want to give too much away but I really enjoyed how Zavrius uses magic – it fit his character well and also made him more interesting (than if he were a royal who couldn’t use magic).

I loved the characters we got to know. Zavrius and Balen were two really fun characters. Easy to get to know, easy to love. I actually love second chance romance! Which is interesting because I feel like it’s often paired with friends to lovers or childhood friends to lovers – both are tropes I don’t really drop everything to read. With Zavrius and Balen you get hints of what they were before the novel begins and what they become – and it paired together really well.

Zavrius is a character I really enjoyed getting to know. He’s witty, knows what he wants, and what he doesn’t want. He faces a hard start to his reign as King as he’s not the favoured one or even the next in line for the throne. Despite all that he kept a strong face and carried on through it all. He also loved music and I’ve been on a bardic kick ever since I saw Joey Batey in The Witcher.

I love how both characters want to protect the other, even though Balen is literally the protector, as in The Prime Paladin. I didn’t really know I even liked the bodyguard trope (outside of fanfiction of course) and now I read this I might be getting the inkling for others (but rarely a contemporary romance, though). I loved Balen’s character, he’s well aware of his duties but he also knows what his heart wants and a lot of the book is about trying to find a balance between the two. I liked that he was determined to do his best – not only because he was trained for it all but because he believes he has to do his best.

Lance and Mallet were two characters I didn’t expect to love but I couldn’t help it! They were funny and knew how to make light of a tense situation – saying the right thing at the right time. I liked their character development – I especially liked how they would just treat Zavrius as if he were one of their friends at the pub and not the actual King. I could also see that Zavrius liked it as well – either because he understands humour and how to respond in a similar way – or because he liked not always having to be the King.

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As I said, you could tell that Haddon reads/writes fanfiction – it’s not really a specific feeling or anything, but the writing and how the tropes were written – easy ways to tell (if you know the fanfiction way of writing). I am sad, however, that Zavrius wears his hair long or in a braid and we had EXACTLY NO scene of Balen braiding his hair. Like I loved the book but that’s a scene that I wanted!

Have you heard about the book or at least seen the absolutely gorgeous cover? I really do think this has re-awoken my love for Adult Fantasies and I’m very glad for that! If you’re in the mood for a good adult fantasy this is definitely a book for you!

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