Title: Forging Hephaestus
Series: Villains’ Code Book 1
Author: Drew Hayes
Narrator: Amy Landon
Format: Unabridged Audiobook (26 hours and 58 minutes)
Published: Feb 24, 2017 (Tantor Audio)
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Audible
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 Wine Glasses
From Drew Hayes, author of Super Powereds and Fred, the Vampire Accountant, comes a series set in a new world of capes, cowls, and superheroes.
Gifted with metahuman powers in a world full of capes and villains, Tori Rivas kept away from the limelight, preferring to work as a thief in the shadows. But when she’s captured trying to rob a vault that belongs to a secret guild of villains, she’s offered a hard choice: prove she has what it takes to join them or be eliminated.
Apprenticed to one of the world’s most powerful (and supposedly dead) villains, she is thrust into a strange world where the lines that divide superheroes and criminals are more complex than they seem. The education of a villain is not an easy one, and Tori will have to learn quickly if she wants to survive. On top of the peril she faces from her own teacher, there are also the capes and fellow apprentices to worry about, to say nothing of having to keep up a civilian cover.
Most dangerous of all, though, are those who loathe the guild’s very existence. Old grudges mean some are willing to go to any length to see the guild turned to ash, along with each one of its members. Even the lowly apprentices.
“Sooner or later, they’ll realize that having one spider in the house kills a lot of the lesser insects.”
Forging Hephaestus by Drew Hayes was an addictive intricately woven fantasy set in a world of villains and heroes. It was a given that I’d pick up this listen as soon as I saw it because I’m a sucker for super hero tales. Also, my appetite for more books by Drew Hayes had been previously whetted by another of Drew Hayes’ fun, witty and fascinating books - The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, The Vampire Accountant. Look for my review of it soon!!!!!
Forging Hephaestus was told mostly from the villains’ viewpoint. Readers quickly find that there’s a fine line in defining a villain versus a hero, i.e., there’s heroes within the villains and villains within the heroes. As a bit of history, some villains who prized their freedom realized that they needed to set some bare bone rules so as to ensure that they remained jail-free. Those villains formed The Guild of Villainous Reformation and enacted a code that all metas who joined their Guild had to ascribe to. The same occurred on the other side of the fence, as the heroes formed The Alliance of Heroic Champions commonly referred to as the Capes.
As the story opens, we find Tori Rivas, a meta-human, in the process of breaking into a secure facility when she’s caught by the vault’s owner, Doctor Mechaniacal. Given a choice of being taken out or joining the Guild, she smartly chooses the Guild (duh!) where she becomes an apprentice. Ivan - formerly known as Fornax, a super powerful and supposedly dead villain - becomes her mentor to oversee her schooling in the ins-and-outs of villainy. We then follow assorted supers, Tori and other apprentices as they face perils galore. There’s infighting and outfighting and, of course, those who don’t follow the rules… Oh my!
There’s a diverse array of heroes and villains. Some of their name choices were absolutely hilarious. A case in point: Johnny Three Dicks. I was pulling for Donald, who becomes a Cape. He was a quiet nerdy geek bigly into video games who becomes a meta able to manifest weapons from those same video games. He has a thing for Tori and I hope he gets more attention in a sequel. Another was a caterer who could turn various common sayings such as “liar, liar, pants on fire” into reality. Imagine using that talent in a fight… Another villain was a she-dragon with multiple colorful forms and associated capabilities. Even though all the characters were supers, they were excellently written to be oddly relatable and surprisingly believable. Sounds crazy, but it’s true.
Following please find a few of my favorite quotes from Forging Hephaestus:
“There may come times that you will regret not just dying when you had a chance.”
“Try not to let them scare you too much. But, don’t forget, that they are scary people.”
Ivan, task handled, lowered his hand, pausing only to pop his knuckles. He turned to face his apprentice. He cleared his throat, and took one quick glance over his shoulder where the angry giant robot stormed across the desert, before addressing Tori.
“That was satisfactory.”
“To put it as simply as possible, I ate a god.”
Amy Landon was the narrator for the audio edition of Forging Hephaestus. She did an exemplary job bringing this tale to life. Her voices for each character were distinct, memorable and consistent. She exuded the proper emotions with the appropriate nuances. I would also mention that she did an extraordinary job fitting voices to the characters as some entities are more machine than human-like and the voices she used for each seemed to perfectly fit their physical forms. The performance was polished and professional. Forging Hephaestus was the longest audio I’ve ever listened to at twenty-seven hours, yet I was incredibly disappointed when it ended as I wanted more! I am beyond impressed that for as long as this audio was, I never once lost interest and was never ever bored.
If you require a bit of romance in your reads, then you should look elsewhere as this listen was 99% bereft of romance. The lone exception was Donald’s aforementioned shy crush on Tori. I actually didn’t have time to miss it as the story’s action-packed plot line and dangerous stakes at every turn kept things busy! Forging Hephaestus was fun, humorous and well-written with intriguing, well-developed characters and on-point pacing. I can’t wait to read more stories set in this world. Hopefully, soon!