Forge of Heaven is in some ways vintage Cherryh. You can expect psychological complexity in a world of which you feel you're just beginning to scratch the surface. This is Cherryh's great virtue as a writer; she develops her personalities and her worlds with an equally deft brush. Although the interests of the main characters often diverge or even compel the various protagonists to use deception against one another, we see the complicated reasons why trust is limited, even between well meaning characters. The book is set in the world where Marak Trin Tain's world is continuing to undergo great changes as the result of a conflict between a human faction called the Movement and an alien race called the Ondat. Most of the action occurs on Concord Station, a place with great diplomatic significance. On this station the diverse interests of human factions and the alien ondat meet. Their interaction may ultimately decide the fate of Marak's world and everyone who dwells on it, not to mention the continuing peace in the universe.
For those of you who haven't read much Cherryh before reading this book, a few things to remember: Cherryh's writing is fast-paced from a psychological perspective, with running thought processes fleshed out in a way that can come across as confusing to the reader. Still, the stream of thought consciousness comes across as authentic, as if you're really in the heads of the various characters, thereby making them that much more 3-dimensional.
Another thing that readers may have trouble with is that Cherryh chooses to show the story from quite a few different perspectives, (and more than Cherryh herself is accustomed to). Whereas in the Foreigner series we see almost everything from the Paidhi Bren Cameron's point of view, in this story we have the point of view of Marak, a teenage girl (Cathy), a Governor (Setha), the Project Leader (Brazis), and the Project Tap (Procyon). In other words the story forces us to follow 5 different first person narratives, which sometimes strains the flow of the plot and the reader's ability to understand everything that's happening.
Nonetheless this book is overall a rewarding read with good pacing, and a suitable climax towards the end. My only overall complaint is that Cherryh tries to bite off a little more than she can chew in this book. Some of the antagonists' motives and tactics throughout the book are left unexplained and underdeveloped to a great extent. Between the Earth/Inner Worlds faction, the Apex faction, the Ila, the ondat, and all of the other groups running around, she might have been better off giving us a more detailed view from one or two main characters/factions. By the end of this book I felt like I was only grasping the tip of the iceberg on what clearly is just a glimpse into a many-layered world.
- Hardcover: 405 pages
- Publisher: Eos (1 June 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0380979039
- ISBN-13: 978-0380979035
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.3 x 22.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 386 g
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