The perfect introduction to the epic fantasy world of Osten Ard, The Heart of What Was Lost is Tad Williams’ follow-up to his internationally bestselling landmark trilogy. Osten Ard inspired a generation of modern fantasy writers, including George R.R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, and Christopher Paolini, and defined Tad Williams as one of the most important fantasy writers of our time.
A NOVEL OF OSTEN ARD
At the end of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, Ineluki the Storm King, an undead spirit of horrifying, demonic power, came within moments of stopping Time itself and obliterating humankind. He was defeated by a coalition of mortal men and women joined by his own deathless descendants, the Sithi.
In the wake of the Storm King’s fall, Ineluki’s loyal minions, the Norns, dark cousins to the Sithi, choose to flee the lands of men and retreat north to Nakkiga, their ancient citadel within the hollow heart of the mountain called Stormspike. But as the defeated Norns make their way to this last haven, the mortal Rimmersman Duke Isgrimnur leads an army in pursuit, determined to end the Norns’ attacks and defeat their ageless Queen Utuk’ku for all time.
Two southern soldiers, Porto and Endri, joined the mortal army to help achieve this ambitious goal—though as they venture farther and farther into the frozen north, braving the fierce resistance and deadly magics of the retreating Norns, they cannot help but wonder what they are doing so very far from home. Meanwhile, the Norns must now confront the prospect of extinction at the hands of Isgrimnur and his mortal army.
Viyeki, a leader of the Norns’ military engineers, the Order of Builders, desperately seeks a way to help his people reach their mountain—and then stave off the destruction of their race. For the two armies will finally clash in a battle to be remembered as the Siege of Nakkiga; a battle so strange and deadly, so wracked with dark enchantment, that it threatens to destroy not just one side but quite possibly all.
Trapped inside the mountain as the mortals batter at Nakkiga’s gates, Viyeki the Builder will discover disturbing secrets about his own people, mysteries both present and past, represented by the priceless gem known as The Heart of What Was Lost.
Praise for Osten Ard:
“Inspired me to write my own seven-book trilogy.... It’s one of my favorite fantasy series.”
—George R. R. Martin, New York Times-bestselling author of The Game of Thrones
“Groundbreaking...changed how people thought of the genre, and paved the way for so much modern fantasy. Including mine.”
—Patrick Rothfuss, New York Times-bestselling author of The Name of the Wind
“Tad Williams is a master storyteller, and the Osten Ard books are his masterpiece.” —Brandon Sanderson, New York Times-bestselling author of Mistborn
“Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is one of the great fantasy epics of all time.”
—Christopher Paolini, New York Times-bestselling author of Eragon
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Ruined Fortress
At first, in the flurrying snow, he thought the soldier stumbling in front of him, through the icy mud of the Frostmarch Road, had been wounded, that the man’s neck and shoulders were spattered with blood. As he steered his horse around the hobbling figure he saw that the blobs of red had a regular shape and pattern, like waves. He reined up until the soldier was limping beside him.
“Where did you get that?” Porto asked. “That scarf?”
The soldier, thin and several years younger than Porto, only stared up at him and shook his head.
“I asked you a question. Where did you get it?”
“My mother wove it for me. Piss off.”
Porto settled back in his saddle, amused. “Are you really a Harborsider, or is your mother a bit blind?”
The younger soldier looked up at him with a blend of confusion and irritation: he thought he was being insulted but wasn’t sure. “What do you know about it?”
“More than you do, as it turns out, because I’m from the Rocks and we’ve been drubbing you lot at town-ball for centuries.”
“You’re a Shoro—a Geyser?”
“And you’re a Dogfish, dim as can be. What’s your name?”
The young foot soldier looked him over carefully. The two waterfront neighborhoods—setros, as they were called in Ansis Pelippé, the largest city on Perdruin—were ancient rivals, and even here, hundreds of leagues north of that island’s shores, it was obvious that his first impulse was to brace for a beating. “Tell me yours.”
The man on the horse laughed. “Porto of Shoro Bay. Owner of one horse and most of a suit of armor. And you?”
“Endri. Baker’s son.”
At last, and as if he had been holding it back, the youth smiled. He still had most of his teeth and it made him seem even younger, like one of the boys who had run beside Porto’s horse waving and shouting as he made his way through Nabban, all those months ago.
“By the love of Usires, you’re a tall one, aren’t you!” Endri looked him up and down. “What are you doing so far away from home, my lord?”
“No lord, me, just a man lucky enough to have a horse. And you’re freezing to death because you can’t walk fast enough. What happened to your foot?”
The younger soldier shrugged. “Horse stepped on it. Not your horse. I don’t think it was, anyway.”
“It wasn’t. I’d have remembered you, with your Harborside scarf.”
“I wish I had another. I’d even wear one in damned Shoro blue. It’s so bloody cold here I’m dying. Are we in Rimmersgard yet?”
“Crossed the border two days back. But they all live like mountain trolls up here. Houses built of snow and nothing to eat but pine needles. Climb up.”
“Climb up. First time I ever helped a Dogfish, but you won’t even make it to the border fort like that. Here, take my hand and I’ll pull you up to the saddle.”
When Endri had settled behind him, Porto gave him a sip from his drinking horn. “It was terrible, by the way.”
“What was terrible?”
“The beating we gave you lot this year on St. Tunato’s Day. Your Dogfish were weeping in the streets like women.”
“Liar. Nobody wept.”
“Only because they were too busy begging for mercy.”
“You know what my father always says? ‘Go to the palace for justice, go to the church for mercy, but go to the Rocks for liars and thieves.’ ”
Porto laughed. “For a sniveling Harborsider, your father is a wise man.”
“This is a true story, if words can be true. If not, then these are only words.
“Once upon the past, during the preserve of the queen’s sixteenth High Celebrant, in the era of the Wars of Return, our people, the Cloud Children, were defeated by a coalition of mortals and the Zida’ya, our own treacherous kin, at the Battle for Asu’a. The Storm King Ineluki returned to death, his plans in ruins. Our great Queen Utuk’ku survived, but fell into the keta-yi’indra, a healing sleep nearly as profound as death. It seemed to some of our people that the end of all stories had arrived, that the Great Song itself was coming to an end so that the universe could take its next age-long breath.
“Many, many of our folk who had fought for their queen in a losing cause now departed from the southern lands with thought only of returning to their home in the north ahead of the vengeance of the mortals, who would not be content with their victory, but would strive to overthrow our mountain home and extinguish the last of the Cloud Children.
“This was the moment when the People were nearly destroyed. But it was also a moment of extraordinary grace, of courage beyond the proudest demands we make upon ourselves. And as things have always been in the song of the People, in this, too, even the moments of greatest beauty were perfumed with destruction and loss.
Thus it was for many warriors of the Order of Sacrifice when the Storm King fell, as well as those of other orders who had accompanied them to the enemy’s lands. The war was ended. Home was far. And the mortals were close behind, vermin from the filthiest streets of their cities, mercenaries and madmen who killed, not as we do, regretfully, but for the sheer, savage joy of killing.”
—Lady Miga seyt-Jinnata of the Order of Chroniclers
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Having just reread MS&T, I was really hoping for more. It's been 20+ years since Williams wrote the original trilogy, and to me it shows: the returning characters don't quite ring true to their supposedly-only-weeks-ago selves, and the new characters only there as archetypes and plot points. The whole of it seems rushed, with days simply glossed over, the events epic but the tale told more as a summar. The storming of Nakkiga needed it's own full novel; this was told more like a final skirmish or two, not the retaliatory near-genocide of a people by grieving victims bent on revenge. If the final battle had taken place, the same way, at Three-Raven Tower, it would have felt more apt. As it is, this story felt like an outake, chapters that were never finished and left unedited. I can only hope the upcoming trilogy is better. I don't regret reading The Heart of What Was Lost, but I regret the missed opportunity for a better told tale.
The Heart of What Was Lost Lost (or HOWWL - I just *love* this acronym) marks Tad Williams’ return to Osten Ard. A return readers have wished and hoped for more than 20 years - ever since the epic finale of the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series that made Williams’ name as a writer. Disclosure: I was a beta readers of this book, following its development from first draft to final manuscript and I am completely biased. Nevertheless this is my true and heartfelt opinion and I have no economic or other affiliation with the publishers. This is a must read if you’re a fan of the MS&T trilogy and it is amazing how perfetly Tad manages to match the flavour and texture of the original. It just takes a few pages and you’re right back in Osten Ard. For someone loving the story as much as I do it feels like coming home … It is also a fine starting point for those unfamiliar with Osten Ard. You never read MS&T and shy away from the sheer mass of it? Try this and find out if the world is to your liking. Of course the story has less depth without the background provided there but it is self contained in such a manner that it makes sense of its own. When I first heard that Tad was writing a novelette (which finally became a short novel - anybody surprised?) about the aftermath of the final battle of MS&T I was not *that* excited. The victorious humans chasing their beaten fairy foes back to where they came from - that sounded more like „a story for the guys“ than one for me. I do not mind reading about war and battles and people suffering but a book which is prominently about that? Nah, not really. But alas, it is a sequel to my favourite story of all time so of course I did read it and of course I do love it. Why? First because it features one of my favourite characters from the old books: Sludig, hero of many deeds and battles who keeps doing the right things although there never seems to be a reward or promotion for him. Secondly HOWWL finally throws a floodlight on Norns and their culture. In MS&T they were the unkown faceless enemy, here they are real people with hearts and souls and their enmity to humans and the century old hate for them becomes much more comprehensible. This even serves as a parable to real life: you cannot continue to blindly hate the foe you became familiar with. Little by little I felt my allegiance shifting from the human army seeking revenge and attempting to „root out evil for once and all“ (which can also be called attempting genocide) to the Norns trying to survive and safe their home and people. And third and lastly what really makes this shine is the aliveness and humanity of the characters. Amidst war’s horror and desolation there is also loyalty, friendship and hope - on both sides. Tad is a master of ambivalence and changing perspectives and if a fantasy novel manages to make one question one’s view on the world it does deserve a label mostly denied to genre fiction: literature.
A most welcome return to Osten Ard, Tad Williams' most beloved world. The novel begins as various groups of characters head north to the ancient Norn city of Nakkiga, where the Norns are retreating after their defeat at the Hayholt. Duke Isgrimnur of Rimmersgard and his men are determined to completely exterminate the troublemaking Norns once and for all. This story is also told from the point of view of the Norns; specifically a master of builders named Viyeki. A third point of view is presented from the POV of Porto, a Perdruinese mercenary. The switching of perspectives from the Rimmersmen to the Norns was well done. I felt myself rooting for the Norns during their sections, and for the Rimmersmen during their parts. I found the storyline intriguing, and felt the novel has a lot to say about wars in our own world.
There are always 2 sides to every story. Mortals and imortals both have their truth and both seem willing to die for it, the duke (Isgrimnur) was one of my favorite characters and I was happy to see him here. The story leaves me wanting more. What did the sitha do before she left?