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The Fall of Highwatch by Mark Sehestedt

Posted by travizzt on February 4, 2010

The fortress of Highwatch is under attack! Thankfully, Hwielan is able to escape. However, she soon finds herself in a world she doesn’t want to be apart of.


The Fall of Highwatch by Mark Sehestedt- This is the first book in the Chosen of Nendawen trilogy, the second being Hand of the Hunter (due out in December 2010) and the third being Cry of the Ghost Wolf (due out December of 2011), all set in the Forgotten Realm universe. Mark Sehestedt is the author of two other Forgotten Realms novels and a Eberron novel. The Eberron novel is Tales of the Last War and the two Forgotten Realms novels are Frostfell, part of The Wizards series of stand-alone novels, and Sentinelspire, part of The Citadels series of stand-alone novels. A character from Frostfell reappear in this novel.

The story is about a young woman named Hwielan, the granddaughter of the High Warden of the fortress Highwatch. Her grandmother is making Hwielan leave for a year to a city in Damara to, hopefully, meet a young noble to marry. Hwielan doesn’t like this idea and asks her mother her opinion, which, surprising to her, her mother agrees with her grandmothers thought. Before she can go, while at her father’s grave, Highwatch gets attacked from the inside and everything she knows is lost. While being pursued, Hwielan finds her friend and teacher, Scith, who tries to figure out what happen to Highwatch, but never returns. Hwielan decides to go after him and finds him near death and tortured, and she gets caught, but it rescued by an elf named Lendri (from Frostfell) he tells her to follow him to safety. But things don’t go as planned. Between being relentlessly chased by an unholy being in the form of her uncle, being captured by eladrin elf named Menduarthis and taken to the Feywild, and finding out that she is something much more, it looks like Hwielan doesn’t have much chance to escape.

Negatives:
1) Descriptions. Before I really say anything, they were just wonderful. It was amazing how much Mark Sehestedt described the landscape and everything in between. You really can picture everything described. However, there is a slight, slight problem. Every once in a while, the descriptions slow down the story. For example, when Hwielan is going to met the Queen while she is in the Feywild,  the palace’s description got in the way more than it should. It just became a little distracting.
2) Cliffhanger. It just had to stop at a cliffhanger. And I have to wait a good ten months till I can read the next one. It just isn’t fair. I really never wanted the story to end.

Positives:
1) Characters. The characters were just plain wonderful. They really made the story as a whole interesting and engaging. Hwielan was a wonderful main character. She brought a lot of helplessness and confusion to the story. Basically, she just was a normal girl thrown into something very abnormal and it really shows with everything she does. It’s amazing how she is able to adapt and grow while the story progresses. Menduarthis was great for many reasons. His, at times, cold attitude towards Hwielan and Lendri makes him out to be more of a villain than one of the heroes. But as the story moves forward, he becomes more and more likable and funny. In fact, he is probably one of my favorite characters within the story. Why is that? Because (Small Spoiler!) the reason for him helping Hwielan escape is because he is really bored in the Feywild. How great is that? No motivation except of his boredom, it’s just wonderful. Also, the side characters and minor characters all add something interesting and really help the story along.
2) Secondary Plot. I love how every time the secondary plot is brought up, the chapter only lasts a few pages, then after those few pages, we go back to the main storyline. It makes the story flow better than having to stop the wonderful pacing for some pointless, or relatively pointless, side plot that the reader really couldn’t careless for. Now, the secondary plot of the person who took over Highwatch and his reasons is really good, but I was really happy to see it as only a few pages after a few chapters with the main storyline. It just didn’t bore you with things that weren’t really happening in the main story. Instead it seemed to be more like a subtle reminder of the what is still going on in Highwatch.
3) Story. The story itself was just wonderful. It may have been a little simple, but it still was interesting and engaging. Basically, the story is having Hwielan running away from everything and it really does work out for the best. It makes the story fly by, because these scenes are fast paced and exciting. Even the slower parts of the story are interesting. They have an underlying sense of excitement when things get slow. For example, while being led through the Queen’s palace it’s a slower scene, but it still builds up what is going to happen when Hwielan meets the Queen. It just was plain exciting.

Side Notes:
1) Gruesome. There were a lot of scenes were things got a little more than gory. It was great however. I squirmed a little more than I should when Hwielan stabbed one of her chasers in the eye. And reading about what this unholy creature looked like after a while was really shiver worthy.
2) Lendri. It was nice to see him return. But his whole back story seems like it needs to be told more.
3) Cover Art. I really like it. First off, it’s actually in the story, when Hwielan meets Menduarthis. Secondly, the way it’s horizontal and not vertical really catches your eye. Finally, the mountains are a little more than plain, they are beautiful in their own way.

Overall: 5/5
Final Thoughts:
The problems I have aren’t really huge issues. They don’t really take away from the positives at all. The story is wonderful, the characters are vivid and very interesting, and it’s just plain exciting. I haven’t read a story this good for a while, and I was pleasantly surprised by how great the story was.

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