Centuries after Camelot, King Arthur’s kingdom has fallen into chaos and despair. A prophesied king will soon take the throne and restore order and unity with the help of the Stewardry and the Mistresses of the Realms. Twenty years in exile and hiding have changed the Stewardry and the Mistresses, and the success of the new king’s reign is far from assured.
I heard about The Well of Tears in an email from NetGalley promoting the sequel, The Keys to the Realms. While I’m still waiting for approval to read The Keys to the Realms, The Well of Tears was available to read immediately.
I admit that the start was a bit slow. I was tempted to walk away, but I didn’t want to leave a NetGalley book unread, so I persevered. I am so glad I did. After a couple of chapters I fell in love with Alwen, one of the Mistresses of the Realms. She’s strong and powerful, yet humble and kind, which just makes her awesome. The story was still a bit slow until Alwen arrived at the Fane Gramarye (magical headquarters), but it picked up once she walked in the doors, and is still (I hope) galloping forward at a breakneck pace in The Keys to the Realms.
As in any good book, but especially an epic series (think Outlander, Game of Thrones, and Sword of Truth), it’s extremely important to draw the reader in emotionally, and preferably to more than one main character. I care about pretty much everyone except Machreth and Cerrigwen (but they’re the bad guys, so who cares, right?). I almost cried in a couple places when bad things happened to the good guys. I hate how bad things happen to good characters, but it they didn’t there wouldn’t be a story (doesn’t make it easier, though).
The action is well-written and easy to picture. I’m not terribly visual when I read a book, so when a writer can get at least a fuzzy picture in my head, she’s doing a good job (yay, Roberta!). In my mind Madoc looks like Dumbledore, and Alwen reminds me of Catelyn Stark, but whatever works, right?
There are a lot of characters and complex relationships, which were actually pretty easy to follow. When I got to the end, I saw there was a helpful summary of the characters, relationships, and hierarchy within the Stewardry, but my understanding of the story didn’t suffer from my not having been aware of it. A map, however, would have been helpful (of the Fane Gramayre and the routes Alwen and Bledig took on there way there). Some pronunciation help in the appendix would also have been nice (as it was I just went with a phonetic interpretation, strange as it sounded).
Well done, Roberta. Well done. Now hurry up and get the publisher to approve my request for The Keys to the Realms.