Palicrovol, too, was cruel, as befitted a king. He took the true mantle of kinghood by forcing Asineth, now Queen by her father's death, to marry him, raping her to consummate the marriage. (But he was not cruel enough to rule.) He let her live after her humiliation; live to bear a daughter; live to return from exile and retake the throne of Hart's Hope.
But she, in turn, sent Palicrovol into exile to breed a son who would, in the name of the God, take back the kingdom from its cruel Queen.
©1983 Orson Scott Card; (P)2005 Blackstone Audiobooks
"A fantastic tapestry woven around wholly believable characters." (Fantasy Review)
I love Hart's Hope. It's a glory among fantasy. No, it's not clean and pretty and sweet and upbeat, as some people expect after reading some of Card's novels. It is, in fact, dark-dark-dark, and the ending is ambiguous.
But it has one of the most intriguing story constructions you'll ever encounter, and a milieu so unique and deep, you'll never forget it.
I warn you again: This is DARK fantasy. But with lyrical, soaring prose that hypnotizes you from the first word, it's worth reading -- or listening to. Get it. You won't regret it.
This is not an "Ender" universe, (and I loved Ender's universe!). But this is a much different kind of story.
Card is a master storyteller and in this book is he at the top of his game. I do not normally purchase titles in the "fantasy" genre, but I will take whatever this author offers. The story takes many twists and turns. The pace is languid, so be patient. The depth of the characters and the wonderful conclusion will make it worthwhile.
Whoever paired Card with this narrator is a genius. Stephan Rudnicki often performs Card's work, and he breathes real magic into Card's beautiful prose
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
Does power always corrupt? Do horrifying incidents always create horrifying villains? Is a queen evil if she rules with absolute power and torments her tormentors and yet gives a good life to her people? At what point does revenge consume the avenger? At what point is justice served?
Anyway, all these questions are asked and none of them are answered - which is nice because I like to be left to figure out the moral of the story on my own.
The narration is fantastic. And the story itself will keep you listening if only to find out if justice is served. The material is mature and disturbing, however, so be prepared for unpleasant goings-on (i.e. rape, infanticide, torture).
I am a major Scott Card fan and this is the first time I've been unable to finish. Still beautifully written but I found myself wincing and unable to stay in that space. I did read lots of reviews on Amazon who really enjoy this, but be aware it is a very dark and coarse fairy tale. Still a Card fan but will not finish this.
I love Orson Scott Card. I have read nearly every book Card has written, including his books on writing (I believe I missed a book of poetry and entirely skipped a series about women of the Bible, but I'm pretty sure I got everything else, and most of that two or three times). I regularly read the reviews on his website, and I subscribe to his Intergalactic Medicine Show. In short, I've enjoyed a lot of Card and Card related merchandise. Hart's Hope, for me, was unappealing.
The odd thing is, I'm not sure why. It has all the elements I've come to expect from one of Card's books, but somehow this one fell flat. Because this is a review, and I know that at some point somebody will inevitably read it hoping for advice, I will offer two suggestions.
First, if you prefer to like at least a couple of the characters in the books you read, this one might not be for you. By the end of the book I found them all to be a little distasteful, and not in a "love to hate them" sort of way. It was more of an "I'd rather not know any more about you" sort of way. As far as I know this is the only time in all of Card's writing career that I have failed to connect with anyone in the book. This is my best explanation for the two star review.
Second, if this will be your first Orson Scott Card book, skip it. Listen to Ender's Game if you want military action, Seventh Son if you are in the mood for fantasy or alternate history, or Empire if you are into near future Sci-Fi or political intrigue. In fact, find any of Card's stand alone novels or the first book in any of his series, and read that before you listen to this. You can always pick this one up later to prove me wrong.
With this being Orson Scott Card, I admit having a preconceived expectation. Admittedly with his religous background, I expected something something pleasant. This was anything but. He must have written this while inactive.
It was the most gruesome and depressing fairy tale I have ever been exposed to this side of Stephen King. Kings are a bit better done because as they are billed as straight out horror. Because of the fairy tale element, this has the shock value of finding a spider in your scrambled egg. Not pleasant.
The narrators were excellent, as they so often are from Scott Card books. I found the story hard to follow, as I couldn't see where he was taking it. I felt like the first chapter(s) could have been easily dropped off the book or at least shortened a lot and still gotten the point across as easily. Even then, I didn't especially care for the way he delivered the point. I find this odd, as usually I like his books so much.
Hart's Hope was just not one of Card's best. The story's preface was a bit thin. Many times the description of odd things a bit graphic where other descriptions were vague. I would not listen to this one a second time.
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