Thursday, December 5, 2013

Harvest (Hyddenworld #3) by William Horwood

Title: Harvest (Hyddenworld, #3)
Author: William Horwood
Publisher: Pan Macmillan, 2012

Many of us know William Horwood as the author of the popular Duncton Chronicles, featuring his anthropomorphosised moles. He later did something similar with wolves, and his great love for animals and nature shines through in all he writes.

With the Hyddenworld series, he offers his readers an entire culture attached to the Hydden, a diminutive race that exists parallel to our own but, as the name suggests, out of sight of our world.

Although I didn’t get round to book two of the series, I didn’t feel as though I missed out on key information and could pick up the thread quite easily (although it certainly helped that I’d read the first). Each novel is named after a season – the first is Hyddenworld: Spring, the next Hyddenworld: Summer, and so on.

We continue with familiar characters such as Jack, Katherine and Bedwyn Stort, who are continuing on their quest to find the missing gems – this time the gem of Autumn – before the Earth itself will come to a cataclysmic end.

The antagonists seem a little one-dimensional, with an unmistakable nod to the Nazi regime. Consequently, it’s easy to dislike the sinister, leather-clad Fyrd – which might work for some. I would have loved to have seen bad guys with a little more depth.

These obvious divisions between good and evil are even more apparent when viewing the protagonists – sometimes bumbling, decent folk who happily get on with their lives with good, British cheer.

Fantasy fans who are regular readers of the likes of George RR Martin and Mark Lawrence might find Horwood’s writing a little too sentimental for their GrimDark tastes.

That said, if you’re looking for fantasy that delivers a satisfying, rollicking epic with plenty of feel-good moments and a heavy dose of Celtic myth for flavour, then the Hyddenworld series will probably hit the mark.

Horwood remains a consummate storyteller, vividly capturing each moment. Though sometimes whimsical, his stories offer a deep resonance and tap into those universal myths that make for satisfying tales that stay with you for a long time after you’ve closed the book.

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