Reed starts out guarding the wall of the Pit on what seems to be a quiet night like all the other boring nights that came before. All of a sudden, the warning beacons are lit, and Reed’s life changes in an instant. Swarms of greylings and other vicious monsters from the Pit spew forth in numbers not seen for hundreds of years, which threatens to plunge the lands into ruin. He and a mysterious Knight of the Twelve must rush to warn the city of Arelium about the oncoming hordes before it is too late. Reed, the Knight, and the city’s leaders then fight to keep everything around them safe, but they face unknown obstacles rooted in secrets from the past.
What I Liked
All of the typical fantasy elements were here, and I enjoyed each of them, for the most part. The story had an interesting premise, and I loved learning about the world in which the characters lived. There was a deep sense of mystery surrounding the lore of this world, which was one of the first things that made me want to read more. The author created a history and culture that I continue to want to learn more about.
The character I enjoyed the most was Reed. His story was engaging, and he had the best characterization in the book. I liked seeing him go from being a bored guardian on the wall of the Pit to being a real leader and hero. The exploration of his motives and background was well-done. His last scene of the book was one of the most emotionally charged because of the build-up his character received throughout the story.
The description of the battle scenes was epic. The author did a phenomenal job of making me feel like I was watching the fighting take place. I loved the detail in the descriptions of the greylings and the carnage they wrought. I actually cringed a few times because some of the portrayals of maiming were that vivid. The descriptions of damage to character’s eyes really got to me because I have a weird fear about my own eyes being damaged.
Finally, the ending was intense. I’m still not sure if it was a good or bad intense, overall, but there were things I liked about it. I love a good curve ball, and this one packed some super curvy ones (more on this in a bit). I was shocked at some of the revelations, and they added a great deal of interesting history to this world that I assume will be explored in other books.
What I Didn’t Like
Even though I liked some of the revelations at the end of the book, many of them seemed to come out of nowhere. As I said above, I like curve balls in stories, but I prefer for there to be an aha moment where the clues from earlier in the book come together to show me what I missed. I didn’t get that from this book. The revelations at the end felt tacked on rather than the outcome of earlier story or character development, which is not as satisfying.
Also, the book really could have used at least another round of edits. There were several mistakes, including misnaming characters. The dialogue felt very unnatural, especially in the first half of the book. The way certain things were said just felt off and took me out of the story on several occasions.
The execution of the plot and the pacing of the story were a bit rough. Character monologues with giant info dumps were rampant throughout the text, and it bogged down the story quite a bit. One of the monologues even made no logical sense. A severely wounded character, who was coughing up blood, relayed the entire events of a battle before passing out. No character with wounds like that would make it through a monologue that is a chapter long, especially when a few lines would have been all that was necessary to relay the needed information. The plot seemed to jump from info dump to battle scene and back again without many scenes for good character development. This is probably why I only came away caring about Reed. The rest of the characters fell flat and just seemed like props to dump information or move the plot along.
The Broken Heart of Arelium delivered an interesting fantasy tale with fascinating lore, excellent battle depictions, and a wild ride of an ending. The execution of the story was a bit wobbly with stiff dialogue, numerous info dumps, and uneven character development. However, there was enough interesting details and gory battle scenes here to keep me intrigued despite the flaws. Therefore, I rate the book 3 out of 5 stars.
Have you read this book? If so, what did you think?