Title: Demon Forged
Author: Meljean Brook
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publishing Date: October 6, 2009
Paperback: 432 pages
Stand Alone or series: 5th full length novel in the Guardian series (8th if you count the 3 novelas). The books are written such that one could theoretically read them as stand alone novels, but I would highly recommend reading at least the full-length novels in succession to minimize confusion, and to get a better sense of the overall universe and continuity.This link will take you to our reviews of previous books as well as an interview and articles from the author.
Summary: Four centuries ago, Irena and Alejandro would have succumbed to the need smoldering between them — if a demon and a monstrous bargain hadn’t shattered the possibility of love. Torn apart by shame, Irena avoided Alejandro for centuries — until a vampire’s call for help throws her into his arms again.
Alejandro can control fire, but he’s never been able to control — or quench — the flames between him and Irena. And he knows Irena, hardened by her hatred for demonkind, will never accept that he now works at a demon’s behest. But even as he fights for a second chance, a shocking betrayal and a deadly prophecy shake the foundations of the Guardian universe, and all Hell threatens to break loose…
Why did I read the book: I am a devoted fan of this series. I read every single word written by Meljean Brook and I love all of them. I could have book babies with this series, that’s how much I love it.
Wow. I don’t even know where to start. This series is SO consistently good, this book is SO amazing (I want to have book babies with it). I feel like screaming from the top of my lungs: WORLD! READ THIS, ENJOY THIS!!!
Picking up where Demon Bound left off, the Guardians are working on the Prophecy that predicts that Belial will rise whilst at the same time trying to fight the Nephilim and assorted Demons. A few of the Guardians are still trying to come to grips with the news that Michael, the Doyen, is one of the Grigori, half human, half demon, son of Belial himself. As Demon Forged starts, two Guardians, Alejandro and Irena, are in Rome to meet with a vampire called Deacon and help him to get rid of a Nosferatu. They end up finding a nest of the creatures and an entrapped Guardian, Rosalia. They release the woman and destroy the nosferati and take Deacon with them to SI, which end up being a Very Big Mistake. The Nephilim, the Grigori, the vampires and the Guardians are all entangled in the ages long fight between Belial, Anaria and Lucifer for supremacy in hell and the story arc which started in Demon Angel and expanded in Demon Bound, reaches The Point of No Return: now it is only a matter of time (or two more books) until the climax of this fascinating, stupendous story.
Demon Forged is equal parts Romance, equal parts Big Picture plot. Alejandro and Irena’s story is central but completely connected with the overall story arc. We have seen Irena and Alejandro in Demon Bound and we knew that they had a Big History (very much reminiscent of Hugh and Lilith’s story) between them. We also knew that their Gifts are somewhat complementary: she is a Forger, he controls Fire. Or in the words of Alejandro she is a hammer, he is a sword. Irena is also the oldest Guardian after Michael, the Doyen and Alejandro was a much young Guardian who once trained with her. They were attracted to each other from the get go and became friends very soon but something went awry and they drifted apart.
Basically, these two have spent 400 years loving each other but being stuck in a complex web of shame and pride that prevented them from getting together ever since Irena had to strike a bargain to save Alejandro’s life. The one thing that you need to know about Irena is that she is uncompromising when it comes to Demons – shoot first, ask questions later, it’s her motto and that is one of the reasons why the need to strike a bargain with one of them is so abhorrent to her. Plus, the very nature of the bargain was horrible in itself. But ultimately, the mater of the fact is this: neither has fought to keep what they had and centuries went by before they come to realise how much time they lost. But there are undercurrents and they have a strong foundation in which to build their relationship.
It is a constant battle for Alejandro between his need and his will. She is so old as to be set in her ways and the need to change, to adapt, to be more flexible, to be able to see the big picture is paramount to her development as a character and a person. It is only when faced with the hope that maybe her relationship with her Olek (Alejandro in her mother tongue) is not an impossibility anymore that she starts to re-think her reactions. This is really great because one cannot happen without the other. The very fact that Irena opens up to Olek again points to the beginnings of change. It comes from love, it comes from hope, it comes from everything that is happening around her. To remain stale, unchanged by her environment would be unrealistic. Similarly, Olek’s need is ignited by the hope he is given by Irena.
They are SO perfect together. Alejandro is another dreamy hero but Irena, Irena is such an extraordinary female protagonist. I accept that I tend to concentrate a lot on the heroes but this has been changing over the past months and I have to say that Meljean Brook writes some of the best, most empowered, women. Independent, strong, capable, they are all of this and more.
Once again, Meljean Brook awes me with the details she infuses her story with. It is the red shoes that people wear, or the way Olek touches his chin, or how Irena decides which language to speak. For example, when they first started working together, when Irena was training Olek she spoke in Russian and he replied in Spanish. After the Incident with the Bargain, Irena only ever speaks French with him because she has to think before she says anything as French is not her mother tongue. The cadence of their respective accents were so very real too.
I have a lot of respect for an author who respects the reader back. Meljean Brook never has her characters behaving like retards. The stakes are extremely high (we are talking about the fate of the world here, after all) and the author plays accordingly, never backing off. In fact the overall story has an UF feel because of that.
We are also back to the discussion about Fate X Free will, a discussion that has increased tenfold with the addiction of the seer Khavi to their ranks. Every action has a meaning and they fall into place. The fighting sequences were superb and again, I need to point out how visual Meljean Brook can be, it is very easy to picture all of it . I loved the sequence where all Guardians make a stand – I am not saying how and why, but it is kick-ass. With each of the Guardians fighting to the best of their abilities and Gifts lead by no other than Jake. It is great how all characters from previous books have a role to play.
Michael appears quite a lot in Demon Forged and we have a good measure of who he is as we are given more glimpses of his past and what the future holds for him, thanks to Khavi. We also learn who his heroine is and I am glad that it is someone we already know – and for a long time. My heart broke a bit for Michael in this book as he becomes more and more human to my eyes. There is also the beginning of a secondary romance between Deacon and Rosalia – the seed is there, planted and I can’t wait to read their story next in Demon Blood. I predict a LOT of angst, which is one of Meljean Brook’s signatures. She sure likes to beat her characters around.
Ultimately Demon Forged is a well-balanced combination of romance and UF elements which knocked my socks off. I have said this before and I say it again: if you are not reading this series you are totally missing out.
I kept thinking, whilst I read it, that Meljean Brook’s strength lies on her carefully orchestrated writing and characters – the latter being like musicians that are deftly conducted by their maestro. The result is like music to my ears – of the highest caliber.
When all is said and done I can’t think of a single thing that I did not like about Demon Forged. I suppose I could mention that there is some info dump about previous events in the series, but this happened early in the book and it actually helped me to get my bearings again. But this is from a strictly intellectual point of view – emotionally speaking, I was enraptured by the story: I laughed, I cried (a lot, the epilogue made me sob), I was anxious about Alejandro and Irena getting together (Oh, the angst, it slays me), I was nervous about everything to the point where I was actually shaking when the grand finale came. And you better be prepared for it too, I had heard that the ending was major but I had no idea how Big and Twisted it was going be. If you like to read the ending first , I urge you not to, this time.
I will just say this, Demon Forged is to this series what The Empire Strikes Back is to Star Wars – a dark, bleak instalment where Huge Things happen by the end. But when push comes to shove and people are asked which of the Star Wars movie is their favourite, Empire Strikes Back is usually their answer as it is mine. Alejandro and Irena are now my favourite couple in the series and Demon Forged has become not only my favourite Guardian book but also one of my top 3 books of 2009.
Ever since I read Demon Angel, I thought that this series was excellent. With Demon Forged it has just become outstanding. Yes, it is THAT good.
Notable Quotes/ Parts: There are so many that I love. All of the interactions between Alejandro and Irena and between Irena and Taylor; the scenes with Colin and Savi; the scenes with Khavi (hey, I have a new crush) and Michael.
Verdict: Another fantastic, outstanding entry in my favourite PNR series. Meljean Brook can do no wrong in my book , she always delivers top notch writing, amazing romance and an overall story arc that matters. I wish all books I read would make me react like this. Demon Forged is one of my top 3 reads of 2009.
Reading next: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
We are giving away one copy of the book. To enter, leave a comment here telling us which is your favorite character in the series so far. The contest is open to residents of the US and Canada, and will run until Saturday October 3rd at 11:59pm (pacific). One comment per person, please! Multiple entries will be disqualified. Good luck!