Full disclosure: I read this book as a beta reader and copy editor.
But hey — just because I edited something doesn’t mean I can’t also enjoy it! And enjoy it I did. This book was almost perfectly polished when it came to me; it was a fast-paced, exciting read, and the best part is how different it is. I’m a fantasy reader, but lately, fantasy (especially YA/NA fantasy) has just gotten kind of dull. I’m not sure if it’s because I read too much of it, or because I can’t turn off my editor side to enjoy it well enough, but all of the fantasy books that I’ve read lately have just been kind of formulaic and dull.
Not so with What Was Forgotten.
The best things about this book are its world-building and its character development. I’m a huge fan of fantasy cultures (and cultures in general) and Tim doesn’t disappoint with his creations. A huge part of this book centers around imperialism; the Ryferian army is out to absorb or destroy any culture that doesn’t believe in their “one true god”.
Imperialism is such a great theme in books, because it’s something that is a huge problem in our own world and doesn’t get touched on enough. But this book gets right into the nitty gritty of the effects of imperialism, and shows the moral dilemmas faced by both sides of the conflict: the absorbed and the absorbees (that’s totally a made up word, by the way). For instance, if your people are on the brink of extinction, would you choose to accept a culture and a god that you don’t actually believe in, just to keep your people alive? Would you sacrifice your beliefs to save your family, or would you rather die knowing you never wavered?
This survival aspect is a huge part of both this book and the next (not yet published) and I think Tim does a fantastic job of showing the deeper workings of this conflict, and how, from whichever side you’re on, you may feel your actions are justified. (Yes, even the “bad guys”!)
So if you like books with fantastic world-building, multi-faceted, ambiguous, or “gray-area” characters, and NO ANNOYING LOVE TRIANGLES (praise be to the NA and YA gods!), then What Was Forgotten is the book for you. (And trust me, the sequel is just as good, if not better!)
The Ryferian Empire is a “godly” bunch, intent on annihilating or absorbing all other religions and cultures to accept their god. Zayd is a member of the Tauthri, a race of black-eyed hunters and gatherers that have had their culture stolen from them by the Empire. To protect his family, he joins the Ryferian army as a conscript. Now nearing the end of his service, he has only to do his job for a while longer before he’ll be reunited with his wife and son.
Of course, things are never that easy. When a mysterious, ominous artifact is unearthed during the Ryferian’s latest seige, a darkness that had been dormant for millennia is unleashed, and Zayd is caught between his duty to his family and people, his duty to the empire, and his duty to the world. [Did anyone else get shivers? Because I’ve got shivers.]
The story also follows a rather cocky, ambitious priest in his journey to become a cleric. To reach his goal he only has one more test, and he knows he can pass it with flying colors. But when something goes wrong, and he begins seeing a dark specter stalking him at the corners of his vision, Osmun fears he might be losing his mind. As cocky as Osmun was at the beginning, he probably never thought the fate of the world would rest on his shoulders. But now, it just might.
Will Osmun and Zayd be able to fight back against the evil pressing in on them, or will they fail?
You’ll have to read the book to find out. 😉