The Heart of What was Lost picks up in the months following To Green Angel Tower with Duke Isgrimnur hot on the heels of the retreating Norns. It bounces between Isgrimnur; Porto, a southern soldier swept up by the tail end of the war; and Viyeki, a Norn Builder whose view of things is challenged by his experiences in this campaign. Scattered throughout the novel are extracts from a future chronicle of the events taking place, which Williams uses to speed the story along as well as provide a more objective viewpoint on the narrative. The short novel deals with the pursuit of the Norns to their stronghold in the northern mountains and with the siege laid on them by Isgrimnur and his men.
In my view, Williams uses this book to do two things: first, as he has stated already, he sets the stage for the upcoming trilogy, The Last King of Osten Ard (a title which grows more ominous by the day); and second, he gives us a true insider's view of the Norns in order to create sympathy for them. While Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn did a fine job of creating a world in which every group had some sympathy, the Norns and their allies were (with rare exception) seen as purely evil in their intentions. Though their cousins the Sithi gave insight into the Norns' motives, they never really became a people group you wanted to see survive. Until now. I expect Williams to use this newly created view of the Norns to great effect in the new trilogy.