I finished The Heart of What Was Lost (THoWWL) by Tad Williams over the weekend. I’m going to give a short review today and I’ll probably paste and cut this review on to Goodreads.com (which also reposts my blog, so if you’re seeing this blog there, you might get a “double post”) and LibraryThing.com
Final Grade: B+ (or 4 stars out of 5)
Having read the Memory, Sorrow, Thorn Trilogy late in high school and early freshman and sophomore years in college, I always hoped Tad Williams would return to the world of Osten Ard and tell more stories in this world. However, after George Lucas’s Prequel trilogy and seeing the mess made by sequels of my other favorite stories (for instance, the original Karate Kid sequels, Alien 3 and up, Terminator 3 and up, and Jurassic Park 2 and up), I slowly soured on the idea. So, when Tad announced he was returning to Osten Ard, I was filled with both excitement and trepidation.
THoWWL is a short book, by Tad Williams standards, but it contained a story that seems to function in two ways: a coda for the original series and a prologue for the new series. It functions as a coda as it picks up directly after the events of To Green Angel Tower and tells what happened to Isgrimmnur and his warriors. At first, I didn’t think I would like the (I think) new characters of Endri and Porto as their banter seemed forced, but as the story went along and their complications grew, I warmed to the pair. The same is true for the Norns, Viyeki and Yaarike, in that it took the complications of the plot for me to truly like them as characters. The first third of the book, I didn’t like so much, but after the introduction of the Norn General, that is when I feel the book hit its stride and the relationships between all of the main players really coalesced into a strong narrative. I can say truly that by the end, I was totally invested in the outcome of the Endri/Porto and Viyeki/Yaarike storylines.
While the action isn’t necessarily on the same scale as in the main MST books, I feel that the action that is there is great and more than appropriate to help change the characters in meaningful ways. A cousin who has also read the book remarked that she saw this much like a World War 2 narrative following a “band of brothers,” and I can definitely see echoes of this in the storyline. It is a shorter, more compact, and more empathetic look at the nature of war than most fantasy novels give us and I, for one, am grateful that the characters took center stage over the action.
Having finished this first book, I can say that I’m excited that Osten Ard is back and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, The Witchwood Crown.