Author: Tad Williams
Publisher: DAW Books
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: A Novel of Osten Ard
The Heart of What Was Lost (Osten Ard)
(Contains spoilers for Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn).
With the Hayholt saved, and the Storm King defeated, and Queen Utuk-ku in a coma like state, the Norns retreat to Nakkiga, their final stronghold in the mountains. Duke Isgrimnur and an army of Rimmersman begin to pursue the Norns and annihilate them so they may never attack the land of mortals again.
An in-between-quel if you will, The Heart of What Was Lost is a short novel that immediately follows the concluding events of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, but is used to set up Williams' Osten Ard sequel trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard.
With three primary narrators, Williams elaborates the final stages of the defeat of the Norns. Duke Isgrimnur is one of these narrators, and unfortunately his narration turns out to be some of the clunkiest. Isgrimnur just doesn't quite feel like the Isgrimnur I remember. His dialogue and the way he talks to his subordinates can be excruciating at times. Sludig, also returns, and has changed greatly as a character, but also suffers a lot of the same poor dialogue flaws as Isgrimnur.
On the stronger side of the narration is Porto a young man who was at the Hayholt during that final epic battle, but didn't participate in any combat. Pursuing the Norns will obviously change that, but his goal is to keep a young man named Endri alive and to get back home to his wife. It's through Porto that a lot of the horrors of war, particularly magical war with a bunch of faeries is examined in its most brutal detail.
And finally there is Viyeki, a pure blood Norn that's a part of their Builder caste, and is the likely heir to running it one day. I was glad to see the Norn's get some narrative representation, and it does provide a somewhat more sympathetic view point for them. But then again it's really hard to sympathize with a highly classist society that is only able to stand on its own two legs because of all the slaves they keep. And lets not forget that they provoked the deadliest war in centuries on one woman's mad quest for vengeance.
All in all this first return to Osten Ard in over two decades was some what of a disappointment. Viyeki and Porto will be characters featured in The Last King of Osten Ard so if you want a more complete picture of those two characters, then The Heart of What Was Lost may be worth your time. Otherwise, at least compared to Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, this book is decent, but it definitely didn't rise to the occasion.