King Severn Argentine’s fearsome reputation precedes him: usurper of the throne, killer of rightful heirs, ruthless punisher of traitors. Attempting to depose him, the Duke of Kiskaddon gambles…and loses. Now the duke must atone by handing over his young son, Owen, as the king’s hostage. And should his loyalty falter again, the boy will pay with his life.
Seeking allies and eluding Severn’s spies, Owen learns to survive in the court of Kingfountain. But when new evidence of his father’s betrayal threatens to seal his fate, Owen must win the vengeful king’s favor by proving his worth—through extraordinary means. And only one person can aid his desperate cause: a mysterious woman, dwelling in secrecy, who truly wields power over life, death, and destiny.
I decided to try this book after being recommended it late last year (you can read more about that here).
Wheeler’s writing style appeals to me. Despite using ‘fancy’ words like “forsooth”, he is still able to keep the language accessible and this story was a quick and easy read. The magical world that the story is set in was also different enough to hold my interest, while also keeping some familiar tropes.
I did struggle a bit with the age of the main character. There seemed to be some inconsistencies in the way that Owen was portrayed in terms of his maturity and how he would handle situations. While he did grow throughout the story, it wasn’t always a linear development. Having Owen be 8 years old was a difficult ask. He was, I think, perhaps a bit too young? Other than obsessively playing with bricks (a ‘young’ thing to do), the rest of what he got up to could just have easily been done by say an 11 year old. The fact that he was playing with a girl who already knew she would marry Owen when she was older felt a little odd for them both to be so young. I’m not sure, it just didn’t seem to sit quite right with me.
While I haven’t picked up the next book in the series yet, I would like to read it. There is a jump in time for the next book which doesn’t leave me with the need to rush out and find out what happened next. That’s isn’t to say that a time jump is a bad thing. I think it will be helpful for Owen to have had some time to grow up a bit.
Book Titles: ‘The Wretched of Muirwood’ (Book #1) | ‘The Blight of Muirwood’ (Book #2) | ‘The Scourge of Muirwood’ (Book #3)
Author: Jeff Wheeler
Series: Legends of Muirwood
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Fiction, Magic
‘The Wretched of Muirwood’ (Book #1) In the ancient and mystical land of Muirwood, Lia has known only a life of servitude. Labeled a “wretched,” an outcast unwanted and unworthy of respect, Lia is forbidden to realize her dream to read or write. All but doomed, her days are spent toiling away as a kitchen slave under the charge of the Aldermaston, the Abbey’s watchful overseer. But when an injured squire named Colvin is abandoned at the kitchen’s doorstep, an opportunity arises. The nefarious Sheriff Almaguer soon starts a manhunt for Colvin, and Lia conspires to hide Colvin and change her fate. In the midst of a land torn by a treacherous war between a ruthless king and a rebel army, Lia finds herself on an ominous journey that will push her to wonder if her own hidden magic is enough to set things right. At once captivating, mysterious, and magic-infused, The Wretched of Muirwood takes the classic fantasy adventure and paints it with a story instantly epic, and yet, all its own.
‘The Blight of Muirwood’ (Book #2) The Aldermaston, the protector of Muirwood Abbey, is directed by the Medium to make Lia the new hunter of Muirwood. This will take some doing and a lot of training, but with leather bracers, a shooting glove, and quivers in hand, Lia rises to the challenge. Her first real order is to protect Ellowyn Demont from rivals like the Queen Dowager and the Earl of Dieyre. Lia knows very little about the princess’s land of Pry-Ree, but when Ellowyn is abducted, Lia will join forces with Colvin to bring her back. Lia and Colvin must venture into the heart of a fallen kingdom, one devastated by an encroaching sickness called the Blight. It is here that a dark new secret is revealed – one that will make safeguarding the Abbeys nearly impossible.
‘The Scourge of Muirwood’ (Book #3) When a deadly plague is unleashed in the land of Muirwood, the fate of the world is placed in the hands of a young woman named Lia. Charged to be a magical protector, Lia volunteers to be sent on a desperate quest to rescue the squire Colvin, her love, and his pupil Ellowyn Demont, the alleged heir to the fallen kingdom of Pry-Ree. Still recovering from the injuries of her last adventures, Lia sets off across land and sea warning the kingdom of the oncoming plague. The journey leads her to Dochte Abbey, where her friends are supposedly held. Instead, though, a fallen enemy lies in wait for her, as well as an unbearable new truth. The revelation will force Lia to choose between the lives of her closest friends and her deepest desires…
The trouble with reviewing books is deciding whether or not you should be objective or subjective. That’s why I take the easy route and just share my experiences while reading. I read the three books in very quick succession, so it is hard for me to remember which book things happened in. Hence the series review.
I really enjoyed Wheeler’s writing style. The characters had an engaging (at least for me) way of interacting with each other. That helped me become engrossed in the world and invest in the characters. I have noticed that I am now increasingly picky about writing style and narrative voice. I just don’t have any tolerance for stories where I find those things jarring (hence why I gave up on ‘A Glimmer of Hope’ after only 11%).
I was pretty sure I knew Lia’s secret from early on the in story, and although there were attempts to convince me I had it wrong eventually I was proved right. My main motivation for devouring the books so quickly though was not the magic or the intrigue. It wasn’t learning about how society worked in the world. Nope. It was the romance.
And I hate myself a little bit for it.
Remember when you read the ‘Twilight’ saga in a matter of days because the angst was just so real you became addicted to it? A similar thing happened to me in this series. Now please don’t misunderstand me, these books are FAR superior to ‘Twilight’ but as the story lost its way a little bit across the three books I just kept reading. I read past bits that made me momentarily think ‘huh?’ so that I could see the lovers finally unite.
The world created in the Muirwood series is explored by Wheeler in another series but I won’t be picking those up. The last book just left me feeling meh. Which is a real shame, because for most of the series I was much more engaged than that.
So would I recommend The Legends of Muirwood? Yes. Definitely books 1 and 2, and then prepared to be a bit disappointed with the third one.
I am not a fan of the word failure but in terms of NaNoWriMo2018 it is appropriate. I failed. I got just over halfway and then BAM! Life happened.
Mum had a fall and I found myself taking a week’s leave to travel and be able to take care of her. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for her to get to the point where she was able to look after herself again but by that point the damage was done.
I write mostly at weekends and losing just one pushed me too far behind to be able to make up the words in time. I would have had to write 3500 a day for the last week of November to make it work. That week was also the last week at my old job. And the week where I really needed to get the house ready for Christmas as we had people staying the second weekend of December. And I started my new job at the start of that same week.
In short, I had zero brain space for writing. I felt sure that I was on the brink of making myself ill by trying to do it all at once so I didn’t. I decided to take NaNoWriMo off the to-do list.
Originally, my plan was to write 50,000 by the end of the year (so roughly 30,000 in November and 20,000 in December). Since deciding on that new plan I have written exactly 0 additional words.
Without NaNoWriMo I just can’t seem to get myself motivated to write, but here’s hoping I can change that in the New Year when I have settled more into my new job and the new routine that goes with it. I want to see where my story goes. Fingers crossed I will find out.
Thank goodness that this isn’t my first year! I have already proved that I take a while to get going. I have already proved that it takes me a while to train myself out of re-reading what I have just written and correcting what I have typed. I have already proved to myself that I will make it to 50,000 words but it will take me the whole month to do so.
There have been some lows…
And some highs…
But the most important thing to remember is that the story has started!
Well that and I can fix the fact that I am dancing between different tenses later.
While I continue to #NaNoPrep and get excited for Thursday, I have been playing around with ideas for book covers. Canva is a great (and free) tool for this as it allows you to duplicate and tweak things easily. Here is what I came up with:
As you can probably tell, much of my story takes place in a forest.
A Change of Plan
While on a walk recently, I decided to drastically changed a key part of my story. Initially, two of my characters were going to wash down stream and then have to work their way back to where they live. Now, only the MC will be washing down stream and will meet a cast of additional characters once there.
Earlier this year when I read a book about the impact of gender pronouns I started thinking about whether there could ever be a world where they were removed completely. It occurred to me that because these words were so ingrained in our society it would be difficult. But what if society got a do-over?
What would you change?
I started thinking about all of the problems in society today and what I could do to fix them. One of them was to remove the issue of people being different. Everyone wears what are essentially grey sacks (so no one has a shape) and has their hair cut really short (or maybe hair doesn’t grow any more – it is a post apocalyptic world after all). People are taught to notice things (for ‘things’ read ‘differences’) but to not pass judgement on them (taking the idea from meditation – notice but pass no judgement).
People are also not allowed to touch. Lets face it, sex is the most natural thing in the world, but my goodness does it screw things up. Instead people are taught to self pleasure but this isn’t seen as a sexual act. No one knows what sex is! (Population is controlled another way)
People don’t know what sex is, or what people’s biological sex is. They have no sense of whether they are a boy or a girl. They have no idea if anyone else looks the same as them under their sacks.
There is no closeness in society at all.
It should be pretty obvious dear reader that some people are going to have their eyes opened across the course of the story!