Hart’s Hope by Orson Scott Card

OSCharts.jpg (This “review” was originally posted 2/28/2006 at wotmania.com, which closed down at the end of August in 2009. [Most of the members can now be found at RAFO.] It has been edited, just a little, for  some coherency, spelling and grammar. It is blunt and tactless and appallingly unfluid. I apologise.)

At Orson Scott Card’s website: “JUSTICE IS CRUEL But tender mercy is the cruelest of all.

It was for mercy’s sake that Palicroval the Fair left you to live after the desecration of your honor … to live and become great Queen Beauty, whose power makes the very gods tremble and whose mercy is that of the grave. You would lay the world to ruin for your soul’s ease, and see the corruption of the heavens for your pain.

But beware Beauty-for though your power is mighty, there is still magic in the Land, and the Hart has bred a son… and the ones who have suffered your vengeance for so long may exact a payment that could split the world asunder.”

I wondered a bit at the futility or otherwise of reviewing a thingummy that was written all the way back in 1983, but I figure, really, all we talk about, re: Card, is Alvin, Bean and Ender.

I, myself, found myself not as thrilled with Card’s other works as I was with Ender’s Game. (Though Alvin I do like quite a bit.) It wasn’t just the constant repeat of the mentor-brother-archnemesis theme – I just never found quite that degree of nobility so well-expressed again in any of his works.
(And I read The Worthing Saga. Same old.)

Then I read Hart’s Hope, which is different. Card uses a different narrative style – shifting from the Plain Chant (that’s bardic to you, oh WoT-illiterate one) to the earthy/graphic/vulgar/brutal. You see several PoVs, but there’s only one narrator, and seemingly only one audience.

So… pacing is odd but gripping, characterisation is… hmm… one-sided but not one-dimensional, if you get my meaning. (The narrator has an extremely strong and compelling voice.) There are some amazingly drawn characters in there, some of whom you never really see. Plot (and this being Card, plot and character are not only intertwined, the connection is one of the main themes of the novel) is quite compelling, even when you know, or think you know, What Finally Happens.

I think Card falls down a bit on the description here and there, when the – er – mythic stuff happens. A lot of it is left delightfully unclear (they are as they are, who needs explanations, that sort of thing) but the drawback is that when the narrative does go into concrete terms it’s not quite satisfying enough for me.

And sometimes, just sometimes, I wish he’d use a softer narrator… one who let us make our own decisions about the plot (that strong voice can be overwhelming, sometimes).    HART'S HOPE

The ending, though… I love the ending. I love the various differing and different things I could say and believe about the ending.

Overall? I think you should risk it, whether or not you like Card. Because this was a good read, a fascinating one, and, as I’ve mentioned before, quite different from the other stuff he’s given us. (No guarantees that you’ll like it, but I do. Ergo.)

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