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5.0 von 5 Sternen Character-driven witchcraft, 11. März 2013
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Heart of the Witch (Taschenbuch)
According to the old lore, the Creator was dual, the intimate union of Iahmel and Ainéra. But the religions differ about why the two Gods got ultimately separated. The followers of Iahmel blame Ainéra. Worse still, from the crack a third god-entity was brought into existence, Angist, the perversion of the intentions of the original gods, the evil will spreading throughout the earth.
Ainéra herself became earth-bound and tried to help the creatures with magic. But Angist perverted her work and thus for the followers of Iahmel magic is inextricably wound up with evil.

Zerrick is born into a renowned family of the Iahmel religion. He has just one problem. He is a witch called by the magic, prompting him to embark on a long journey. Throughout he will be haunted by dreams of a woman pleading for help. This woman, is it Ainéra or just a trap of the evil one?
The many perils, battles, and other sorts of climaxes Goodwin sends Zerrick riding through are kept together by the suspense arc of his calling and the legendary mysteries behind that calling.

Zerrick will be accompanied by the young woman Mira. The novel is called “Heart of the Witch” for a reason; it sheds light on the heart of Zerrick, his doubts about magic, his efforts to do what is right and to control the wild parts of power in him. But it also, and more importantly, explores the progression of a love relationship.
When the author relates conversations, she goes far beyond the simple aligning of dialogue phrases, instead, she lets the reader partake in the oblique reactions and silent thoughts of the protagonists. “Zerrick flinched, remembering her [Mira's] situation. He kept … sneaking glances at her without letting their gazes touch.” “She took a shuddering breath, her hands clenched in front of her.” And, quite exemplary for what I mean to give distinction to: “She answered his unasked question.”
It is just delightful to read a fantasy novel about real people who are having real conversations and are not just “saying” redundant lines and “answering” to them and stating nothing else than the obvious, just commenting on the thrills around them. Goodwin has written a story full of thrills, but with the added electrifying thrill of characters the reader gets to know so well he really cares about them.
However, it is my single one grievance about the novel that the author does not always stay true to this delicacy of observation that shies away from loading characters with age-group clichés. There is this one scene that is particularly annoying, when Zerrick and Mira, washing themselves in a river, start gaily splashing water at each other, and, of course, by force of cliché, end up wildly fumbling at each other. However, Goodwin reinstates her protagonists into their emotional and reflective authenticity in their following interactions.

I greatly admire the detailed editing work the author must have put into her novel. Not one time do the topics and happenings that spring forth during Zerrick's journey veer from story coherence; to the contrary, small incidents are given perspective and importance by their later reappearance and explication.
Just one example: when Zerrick's curate father was reciting the creation tale, he had a far better listener in Zerrick than in me. I shunned my mind against this whole troublesome business of the two gods, hardly recalling anything of it once the page turned. It's just that I got burnt a lot with fantasy novels. An author will extol details of history about his world, but these details play no role whatsoever in further proceedings and are just the vain attempt of the author to lend epic weight to the world he has made up. But with my mental blockade I did great injustice to Goodwin, because it are the further clarifications on the legends that pull the story together towards its final, cosmic destination.

In addition Goodwin displays a masterful use of language. One can randomly open a page of her book and be charmed by a whole array of beautifully wrought sentences. “Cool morning mist hugged the land, an eerie fog trapped beneath the canopy which shifted and swirled in the mountain breezes, giving rise to wraith-like shapes that danced and merged with darker shapes of foliage.”
The few typos I discovered along the reading do not invalidate the general estimation of the superb editing.

All in all the mixture of descriptions, character development and action is churned into sound balance. And while the “Heart of the Witch” brings Zerrick's quest to a close, not all the mythological riddles will be resolved. The possibility of a sequel is left open.

(The full version of this shortened review can be found on the reviewer's blog.)
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