3.5 of 5 stars
HEARTWOOD is an ambitious epic fantasy, but maybe a bit too ambitious. The book follows the quest of multiple players as they travel Anguis trying activate the mysterious "Nodes" which they believe will help heal the ARBOR. The author does a good job of chronicling the various groups as they try to fulfill their quest, but I found the middle dragged quite a bit. There was too much riding hard, finding an inn, eating heartily and going to sleep. If the land was failing because the ARBOR, the healing tree that kept the land vibrant, wouldn't there be more hardship on local inns who still seemed to have ample food to offer the knights? My other problem with the book is that by the time I got invested in one quest group, it took awhile to get back to them and it was hard to remember what had happened to them.
However, once the various groups found the Nodes, the last third of the book moved along at a fast pace when Heartwood is besieged on two fronts by the Darkwater Lords and the Komis army. I really enjoyed the many female characters is this story and the author does a very good job of portraying them as strong and accomplished knights. My favorite characters were Chonrad and Procella and I felt that their story was well developed. While all the knights had high morals, it was Chonrad who seemed to be the book's moral center. He never fully accepted Heartwood's strict religious views, but he was nonetheless a good and noble knight.
Would the holy knights of Heartwood be able to defeat the Darkwater Lords and save the ARBOR? Despite my criticisms, this is an impressive debut for Ms. Robertson. I was initially attracted to this book because of its great cover and I have no doubt that fans of epic fantasy will find this book a good solid read.
This book will be published on October 29, 2013.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.