The Four Forges presents an unusual take on the Elves (Vaelinars) and Hobbits (Dwellers) and Orcs (Bolgers) of Tolkien's classic. The back-story is original and interesting, and the Elves are much darker than in Tolkien's vision. The story revolves around two main characters, Sevryn and Rivergrace. Both of their personal histories are obscured. War is brewing, and the various elvish factions and other races are jostling for position. There are many strange characters including an ominous boatman, an immortal assassin, an ambitious weapons maker, a spy, and a warrior queen. There are the makings for a good story in the mix, but it never escapes from the writer's pen.
The story is very choppy, with abrupt and confusing transitions, and important characters that just appear without back-story or explanation. The pace of the book is slow even with the all the factions and characters running around doing mysterious things. The characters do not act in ways that are consistent with their history. For example, the feared assassin never manages to kill any important character, even though he does make a number of attempts. There is a spy in one of the groups, and the other members are oblivious to his presence, even after having been warned. You the reader, on the other hand, can count up the likely suspects on one finger. The transitions between story lines are bizarre. In one case there is a fight that takes place in one afternoon. That thread is interspersed with another story line that takes place over a week. These transitions needlessly add to the confusion of the reader.
The final action sequence in the book left me surprised and unsatisfied. Where did that come from? The book is too long, and it badly needs an editor to help tighten up the narrative, improve the flow of the book and introduce enough foreshadowing to help the reader make sense of the story.