The Heart of Myrial by Maggie Furey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A sprawling fantasy epic in an intriguing variant on the "science fiction settlers colonized a new world" setting, The Heart of Myrial follows the lives, large and small, affected by the disintegration of the Curtain Walls which artificially separate environments and hostile races from each other. Devestating climate has driven the country of Callisiora to the brink as Veldan, her firedrake partner Kazairl, and the dragon Seer Aethon attempt to pass through.
The main problem with this book is it was immediately obvious that it was going to be the first in a series. I have no problem with sprawling epics, but it took almost seventy pages to return to the perspective and storyline that began the book. There are no spear-carriers in this book: everyone has a name, history and storyline. A little flavor and color is wonderful, but when everything is important, nothing is. And all these storylines intertwine, crisscrossing over each other in a way that would be compelling in smaller doses, but becomes hard to swallow in this quantity.
Then there's the infodumping in the early portions of the book, sometimes compounded by its insertion in, "As you know, Bob," dialogue. It's an intriguing world that Furey has created, promising many secrets, and the development does improve as it continues, but the start is rocky.
Yet after all this, there's a definite pleasure in watching the storylines unfold, the revelation of the villain, the building of many small relationships - and the twists that emerge from the original plot and even the backstory. The characters are enjoyable and sympathetic, even - perhaps especially - those minor characters who emerge when a face is needed in the crowd. Also, Furey has an interesting perspective on how people deal with grief and tragedy, something which (I think) will only have more power in future volumes.
I will definitely seek out the second book, but be warned that - while it's implied that the original plot problem may be resolved - by the time the book reaches that point, so many other situations have exploded that the end can properly be called a cliffhanger. It promises to be a fun ride ahead.
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