A Humble Heart:
Book One—The Dark World
BY TIM VANDER MEULEN
Reviewed on behalf of The Review Board by Harmony Kent.
I received a free PDF copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
This is the first book of a trilogy, and not a standalone novel. There is no definitive ending, but more like an intermission in a long and drawn out journey, which I would hope will be concluded in the sequel.
First of all, I like the book cover: Its crossed swords and rearing horse both contradict the title, which creates intrigue for me. I also like the contrast between dark and light. Secondly, I have to mention the book blurb: it is way too long. The blurb leaves me with glazed eyes and little desire to continue on. It reads like a mini-essay.
Okay, then, on to the book itself. We have the complete set up for a fantasy of epic proportions, including magic, dwarves, elves, humans as an endangered species, evil Possessors, and all the rest that you’d expect from a book in this genre.
For a hundred years, the Elves have not known the sting of war. But now, the kingdom of men has been invaded, and two boys are all that remain of humans in the world. Can the divided Elves and Dwarves unite in this fight against an ancient foe, for which war and brutality are a necessity and not just a way of life?
Right off the bat, the narrative introduces a lot of different characters that are hard to keep track of, especially as some of those aren’t revisited until later in the book. Next up, the story is written in third person omniscient, which reads as chronic head-hopping—a big no no for me. The prose is passive in the extreme (lots of wases, weres, and starting sentences with ‘ing’ ending words), and information dumps and back-story insertion interrupt the pacing. For example, right in the middle of a scene where Possessor Gellerick is followed and surrounded by Guardians, just when the tension is mounting, we are given a paragraph with the backstory of the Guardians, which is SO NOT the place for it:
‘The disquietude that had been growing inside him over the last minute now jumped outward, and he swallowed hard … [Great so far, right? But, then …]
Legend claims that the Guardians were descendants of the high ruling Enonethtari of old times. They were peacekeepers of the land, … [And on and on it goes.]
By the time we return to the action, it’s gone well off the boil.
At just under 350 pages, this is a long book, made all the more so by such issues as outlined above, which make this a much more tedious read than it needs to be. I feel let down, as being an avid fantasy fan, I had looked forward to feasting my eyes on this gripping tale—alas, it wasn’t to be. Add to this the numerous filter words and other common technical issues, and I just didn’t enjoy this tome.
If you can overlook all of that type of stuff, though, please do give it a shot, especially if you’re an absolute fantasy fiction aficionado; you might just like it. I give A Humble Heart 6 out of 10 TRB stars, which is one up from a 5, which means ‘flip a coin and take a chance if you dare.’ This equates to 3 out of 5 stars on other rating scales.