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The Forgetting Moon

Narrated by: Tim Gerard Reynolds
Length: 30 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (76 ratings)
Regular price: $41.99
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Publisher's Summary

A massive army on the brink of conquest looms large in a world where prophecies are lies, magic is believed in but never seen, and hope is where you least expect to find it. 

Welcome to the Five Isles, where war has come in the name of the invading army of Sor Sevier, a merciless host driven by the prophetic fervor of the Angel Prince, Aeros, toward the last unconquered kingdom of Gul Kana. Yet Gault, one of the elite Knights Archaic of Sor Sevier, is growing disillusioned by the crusade he is at the vanguard of just as it embarks on his Lord Aeros' greatest triumph. 

While the eldest son of the fallen king of Gul Kana now reigns in ever increasing paranoid isolationism, his two sisters seek their own paths. Jondralyn, the older sister, renowned for her beauty, only desires to prove her worth as a warrior, while Tala, the younger sister, has uncovered a secret that may not only destroy her family but the entire kingdom. Then there's Hawkwood, the assassin sent to kill Jondralyn who has instead fallen in love with her and trains her in his deadly art. All are led further into dangerous conspiracies within the court. And hidden at the edge of Gul Kana is Nail, the orphan taken by the enigmatic Shawcroft to the remote whaling village of Gallows Haven, a young man who may hold the link to the salvation of the entire Five Isles. 

You may think you know this story, but everyone is not who they seem nor do they fit the roles you expect. Durfee has created an epic fantasy full of hope in a world based on lies.

©2016 Brian Lee Durfee (P)2019 Recorded Books

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MissRed
  • Aurora, Colorado, United States
  • 02-18-19

Very well done

I was very happy to discover this book, I really enjoyed it!

There were some situations that were exceptionally gory (very detailed in the gore, too) but not so much that I couldn’t enjoy it thoroughly.

I will listen to it again, and hope Audible releases the sequel soon!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ryan
  • Pittsburg,KS
  • 03-14-19

Brilliantly Written and Narrated!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book with its dynamic storyline that pulled me in and twisted in ways I didn't expect. All of the characters were vibrant and didn't fit the same tired old mold that so many fantasy stories keep regurgitating over and over again. For the most part none of the characters were entirely naive and innocent or corrupt and evil and they were complex in their actions and motivations. Top this off with one of the best narrators in the business and it shapes up to be a book that will leave fantasy fans satiated. The one and only complaint I have is with the tad bit over the top passages from the various holy books that begin each chapter. Regardless I'm excited to start the next book in the series immediately after I finish writing this review!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Spellbinding and filled with intrigue.

Great story, intrigue, betrayal, suspense. I am anxiously awaiting the next book. I know that it won't disappoint.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Sherry
  • United States
  • 02-15-19

Drags On And On.... Not Bad; Slow and Confusing

The writing style is good in the right amount.

The constant over explanation of every single scene really wears on me. Story just seems to pause for long periods while excessive non-plot related stuff goes on.

Split between differing protagonists every other chapter or so. This disjoints the story. It may be that one protagonist will be doing something important while the other protagonist is doing something not equally as important? The vast differences between the back and forth?

I'm really not totally sure why I didn't like it. If the book were arranged differently or edited down by 20% or more of the volume, it may have helped.

There are gratifying parts throughout.

If there is a series, I won't be grabbing the next one.

Tim didn't hit home for me on this book as a narrator. Like Tim in many books; but not this one for some reason.

Seems like everything was here for a brilliant book, but not put together the right way.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Restored my faith in epic fantasy

Great reading by Tim Gerard Reynolds, really makes fantasy sound EPIC!!!

BTW BARNES & NOBLE calls The Forgetting Moon one of the best 2016 summer reads:

Durfee pays homage to hard-hitting, heavy-metal fantasies of the ’80s, but layers in multidimensional characters into plot that slowly shifts your perception and assumptions until the whole thing has twisted right under your nose. It’s an exceptionally promising beginning to a new series.

Your celebrated metatextual genre deconstructions are all well and good, but Brian Lee Durfee is here to make fantasy EPIC again. His debut novel The Forgetting Moon (the first in the Five Warrior Angels series), is epic fantasy turned up to eleven, a bracing reading experience that reminds you why you fell in love with the genre in the first place. Durfee writes with admirable energy and verve, delivering a story that does absolutely nothing in moderation.

Epic World-Building. As the first book in a new series, this one needs to do a lot of heavy lifting to establish the universe of the Five Isles. Durfee doesn’t waste time: the opening chapters threaten to overwhelm you with eye-popping detail as Durfee introduces his point-of-view characters and the world they inhabit. It’s a setting both intimate and huge—geographically, it’s fairly contained, giving us an opportunity to orient ourselves. But the history and culture are sprawling, from a Christianity-inspired religion, to a social structure whose basis in familiar Western European-inspired hierarchies is only a staring point. He seeds in details that slowly blossom into something unique and refreshingly messy. Readers will play catch-up throughout the early chapters as a torrent of detail builds the world piece by piece—but it’s well worth the effort to follow along.

Epic Stakes. In the world of the Five Isles, Prince Aeros Raijael of Sor Sevier believes he is the second coming of god’s son, and has spearheaded an invasion of the kingdoms of the Five Isles, assured of an inevitable, blessed victory. As the story opens, the kingdom of Gul Kana is the only realm left outside Aeros’ reach—and its time has come. Aeros is a fantastic antagonist, imposing and beautiful, completely convinced of the righteousness of his actions, and shrouded in just enough mystery to keep us fascinated. His army is a monument of grimdark cruelty: his key generals, the Knight Archaic, are incredible warriors entrusted with Aeros’ personal security as well as the prosecution of his war. The casual cruelty and violence they inflict on anyone who gets in their way is shocking, occasionally even revolting—but never without fanatical purpose. One of the Knights Archaic, a beautiful woman named Enna Spades, numbers among the fiercest, darkest characters in recent fantasy—a vile creature who makes deals and plays games with prisoners and enemies alike, at one point setting a captured boy free only after he successfully swims through shark-infested waters. She is cruel and deadly—and entertaining as hell.

Epic Violence. Speaking of Enna Spades, she’s not the only homicidal maniac waiting in the wings, (she is responsible for only some of the worst moments of torture in the book, which gives you an idea of what’s in store). Durfee doesn’t shy away from darkness, moderate the cruelties of an invading army led by a religious fanatic, or underplay the problems of a psychotic and sociopathic boy king (that would be King Jovan of Gul Kana, who inflicts his share of increasingly disturbing suffering on his subjects and even his own family, including his resilient sister Jondralyn. Jondralyn is but another of the many characters through which we view this story, a familiar but effective method of chopping a way into a sprawling tale, from the humble existence of the orphan Nail, raised by a gruff man in a small town, and clearly someone of incredible significance (if Aeros interest in him is any indication); to the royal families, religious leaders, and the knights and assassins plotting and dueling across the land. Durfee’s approach to establishing narrators is “the more the merrier,” and the result provides us with a rich and detailed view of all stratas of society.

Epic and Classic. Durfee revels in the classic tropes of fantasy—mad kings, powerful magical relics, massed armies, knights in armor, assassins so skilled they can stab you without you even feeling it—but he twists them just enough to make them his own. The Vallé, who have pointed ears and lithe, agile movements that mark them as inhuman, are the elves of this universe—but are highly offended if you call them that. Religion plays a vital role, offering a complicated mythos that has direct bearing on both the plot and the motivations of the characters. It’s as if Durfee was so excited by his every idea for this universe, he couldn’t help but dive into each and every detail with gusto—and that delirious energy pulses throughout the book, creating an addictive reading experience. Durfee hasn’t held anything back—this is a deeply imagined world packed with incredible violence, cruelty, and compelling characters and mysteries. The result is a fantasy that brings epic back in a big way.

Booklist said,, This is high fantasy in the vein of Stephen R. Donaldson or David Eddings, with generous helpings from George R. R. Martin. Durfee’s world building is exceptional: detailed and immersive, with a deep history and believable cultures. The plot is paced and driven, compellingly structured, with a conflict large enough to fuel forthcoming titles in the series.

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY claims, "Durfee’s artist’s eye and fertile imagination populate this complex tale...(he) opens his Five Warrior Angels series with this rousing quest in the elaborately constructed world of the Five Isles...(his) central characters plunge through torturous trials with dogged determination, each one learning to respect and follow (his) recurrent theme of "trust no one.' .

LOCUS MAGAZINE has a killer review, "....I think I have some small idea of what fresh things can be done in this genre these days by top-notch talent—as well as how to recognize the shared lineaments of a rousing adventure tale of any stripe—and so I can affirm that the debut novel by Brian Lee Durfee, The Forgetting Moon, while not necessarily breaking new ground, provides plenty of well-crafted spectacle, thrills, suspense, blood, thunder and general sense of wonder.

With any book of this type, a literal “subcreation,” we always need and expect a solid foundation of world-building without the kind of deadly and pedantic information overload rightly derided by M. John Harrison. Durfee’s book hits the mark. First, he creates some fascinating topography conducive to great plotting. Five isles, each self-governing as a whole, yet with a variety of polities within, lie next to each other. So the scale is relatively compact, allowing easy interactions among the peoples. The backstory along historical, political, economic, religious and cultural lines is deftly sketched in by nicely placed referents with any coarse infodumps. Everything seems to cohere realistically, with no imbalances. And the societies differ from each other in satisfying and believable ways.

Additionally, there is the matter of the distinct races. Besides the humans, there are dwarves, the fey-like Vallè, and the hideous oghuls. Now, these categories are hardly brand-new in the genre, but as I said about this book in general, Durfee’s light and clever hand freshens whatever it touches.

The book opens with a killer setpiece: a mysterious warrior figure named Shawcroft rescues a three-year-old boy from quasi-supernatural assassins—on the edge of a crumbling glacier, no less. Then we cut to that same lad, named Nail and now aged seventeen, living a humble, even oppressed life in a small fishing village, Gallows Haven. Shawcroft remains by his side, his only “family” and only link to his mysterious past. Several chapters illustrate for us Nail’s personality and temperament and character with some exciting action-filled moments. Then we abruptly leave him to jump to other personages in the vast canvas.

The main factions we are going to observe are the royal Bronachell family in Amadon, the innocent victims in this war. Two sisters—older Jondralyn and younger Tala—serves as our POV figures, and they are both inordinately intriguing: smart, feisty and complicated.

The other camp is that of the aggressors, the invaders from Sør Sevier. What a nasty lot they are, led by the Angel Prince, Aeros, and his sadistic female Knight Archaic, Enna Spades, a woman who makes Elizabeth Báthory look like Pollyanna. In their camp is a more nuanced fellow of some honor, Gault Aulbrek. Mentioning his conflicted role brings me to an observation about Durfee’s troupe. He has a wide spectrum of all types, from the purely evil, like Spades, to the purely good, like Nail. And of course, the folks who are at the interface between good and evil are often the most interesting.

Now, needless to say in a volume of almost 800 pages, there is a lot going on, from battlefield heroics, to duels, to brawls in taverns, to traversals of hidden palace passages, to courtly backstabbing. Durfee stages each incident compactly, with no waste or overstuffing. And the succession of incidents carries the various subplots along at a fair clip. And the main impulse behind this novel—and the whole series to come—is sufficiently majestic to bear the burden of so much storyline.

The main religion of all the isles is the worship of Laijon, whose church has a hierarchy and bureaucracy reminiscent of our own Roman Catholic enterprise at its prime. But within the Church is an esoteric order, the Brethren of Mia, and they know a secret. An apocalyptic event is coming which may be forestalled only by uncovering the long-lost weapons of the Five Warrior Angels and using them in battle. Moreover, the talismans can be hefted only by the five current avatars of the old lineages. And guess who is one of the Five?

Alternating between the countryside trials of Nail and his comrades and the cityside machinations of the Bronachells, Durfee keeps our interests always at a peak. The language he employs during all of this is not archaic, nor overly slangy, but rather a believable speech of another era and place, whose descriptive passages occasionally veer from sturdy visualizations into poetry and gravitas. Rough and scatalogical dialogue also has its appropriate moments.

Now, I should mention one aspect of the book as a kind of consumer caveat. I know enough about contemporary epic fantasy to be aware of the “grimdark” trend. Durfee definitely hoists that flag high. And in a fashion that is not initially obvious. For the first 200 pages or so, the book is not particularly grimdark. But with the invasion of Gallows Haven, the blood commences to flow like red wine at an art gallery opening. Interpersonal relationships assume a kind of Darwinian savagery. And there is really no assurance that any character you have identified with will survive.

It makes for some enthralling reading, to be sure—but perhaps not for those who would rather spend the day dreaming in Rivendell.

And SSFWORLD, When a young boy, Nail, is orphaned and taken in by a gruff and mostly silent warrior named Shawcroft, you might have an idea that Brian Lee Durfee’s The Forgetting Moon is going to tread into the waters of Epic Fantasy. You’d be mostly correct, but the routes he takes are down some of the more shadowy, grim, and darkest roads traveled in this popular sub-genre of Fantasy. To say that The Forgetting Moon leans on the shady grimdark side of fantasy would be an understatement, but nothing else about Durfee’s epic novel (and saga) is understated.


It honestly brought back many of the feelings I had when reading Tad Williams’s The Dragonbone Chair as a teenager. Heady praise, I know, but what Durfee is thematically doing here reminds me of what Williams did, so I stand by the comparison. Here’s what I mean: A massive army, led by a religious tyrant, is on the brink of defeating their long-time rivals, in a world where prophecies are twisted into lies, magic is believed in but never seen, and hope is where you least expect to find it in a world on the edge.

Welcome to the Five Isles where you’ll encounter warrior princesses squashed by convention and manipulated by court intrigue; two brothers, both assassins, but one has fallen in love with his mark and now fights the other; and a veteran knight who is becoming disillusioned by the crusade he is at the vanguard of just as it embarks for final battle. And then Nail, the orphan boy hidden away at the edge of the last standing kingdom, who may be the link to its salvation.

I loved this book because it uses tropes in the fantasy playbook, but everyone is not who they seem, nor do they fit the roles you expect. Durfee has created an epic fantasy full of hope in a world that is based on lies, and it will provide readers who love plot twists with a lot of joy.

11 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Somewhat underwhelming

Performance volume was annoying at times. It went from shouts to whispers and was difficult to distinguish.
The lead character development is weak at best with little growth st this juncture.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful