Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hart's Hope

I first heard about Hart's Hope when I started reading Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy (which I haven't actually finished reading!)  I was looking for help with worldbuilding at the time, so I was just reading that chapter.  Card started talking about drawing the city of Inwit (which ended up inspiring me to start drawing maps again) and later making the magic system for the book (magic comes from blood and sacrifices).  The whole thing sounded really interesting, so I ordered Hart's Hope to give it a read.

I started reading it over the July 1st long weekend.  I first tried reading another book, The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan, which I unfortunately lost interest in rather quickly and decided not to continue with.  So I started reading Hart's Hope instead.

When I first began reading, Hart's Hope was really promising.  Already interested in the setting, the characters of Palicroval, his friends (Sleeve the wizard, Zymas, and the Flower Princess) and Asineth (Queen Beauty) were all really interesting.  I was enjoying it (although, I must add, I don't approve of what happens in the beginning to Asineth.  That was terrible!!!!)

But then the book sort of changed.  Rather than follow all the characters I was liking so far, it started following another one, Orem.  It went through Orem's childhood and birth, and followed him for the rest of the story.  And while Orem is a really important character in the story, he was very boring.  I was less than half way through the book when I first considered putting it down.  And that feeling stayed with me for a good long while as I struggled to keep reading.

In the end, I did persevere.  And I'm glad of that.  I decided to keep reading for three reasons.  The first was that I took a quick look on Goodreads and was intrigued by some of the ratings; a few people really, really liked it, and I wanted to know why.  The second reason was that somewhere around the middle, I started to notice that the book was written in second person.  But there was no indication of who the narrator was.  So of course now I was curious and wanted to find out, all the while trying to figure it out based off the way they talked about the different characters (btw, I was wrong about who it was).  And finally, I really felt like Hart's Hope was going to pull a Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time on me.

Let me explain that last one.  When I first tried playing Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time, it was the same night I tried out Ninja Gaiden Black.  And to me, Ninja Gaiden was a much better game in many, many ways.  Years later, when I finally went back to Prince of Persia, almost the entire time I was playing it I kept thinking "I could be playing Ninja Gaiden instead."  But then the ending of Prince of Persia happened and I was completely wowed by it.  So, based off of the reviews and the second person narrative, I was expecting to be wowed in a similar manner.

Hart's Hope didn't exactly wow me like Prince of Persia did.  But the ending did pick up quite a bit and I found that I enjoyed the book overall. This is a rather dark fantasy tale, a power struggle in a really neat world.  Unfortunately the middle of the book is quite a slog to get through so this book lost a lot of points with me there.

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