Awakening by William Horwood

Rating 9.2/10
This book's narrative is a thing of rare beauty.

A Recommended Book of the Month

Awakening is the second book in William Horwood's Hyddenworld Quartet, first published August 5, 2011 by Macmillan.

A series of extraordinary events mark the beginning of summer: earth tremors ravage the Hyddenworld; Jack and Katherine have a child, Judith; and a mysterious gem is found near Brum. That same night, after decades of sleep, the Emperor of the Hyddenworld awakens…

Jack, born of the Hyddenworld, knows that he has a foot in each world but doesn’t wholly belong to either. Is he human, or hydden? Judith too is a child of two worlds, with her human mother and hydden father. She knows who she is supposed to be - the Shield Maiden, bearer of the gems and helper of humankind - but somehow this destiny seems too much to accept.

The discovered gem puts Brum firmly in the path of the Empire - Jack must travel back to the Hyddenworld. He knows that the four gems need to be reunited soon and that the Shield Maiden must be ready to wield them.

If Judith does not embark on her own great journey soon, or the gems can’t be found, then both the hydden world and the human will be threatened with extinction.

When Hyddenworld: Spring - the first book in the Hyddenworld series - was released in February 2010 it was met with a largely positive response. Most loved it, many liked it, some thought it was OK but it should also be mentioned that there was a small handful that were left rather underwhelmed by William Horwood's first fantasy release in sixteen years. For those who fell under the charm of the first book (of whom this reviewer is one) I am delighted to say that the second book is even better. With the groundwork for the story having already been lain, and the characters now having life of their very own, the reader can now simply sit back and allow Horwood's elegant writing to wash over them. This book's narrative is a thing of rare beauty which allows the author's obvious love for his work to transmit over to and into the reader.

The reading experience is once again an uplifting one despite the darkness that lies within many of the book's themes. The events from the first book are picked up and expanded upon using the same style as its predecessor - short chapters and changing perspectives at first, before the threads converge within considerably longer chapters - and a fascinating, moving and exciting tale of friendship, loyalty, domination, ecological disaster and war is the result. Horwood's writing flows beautifully and the detailed research (including a course in Old English) adds that all important layer that helps to create a believable mythology.

If you loved, liked, or even just thought the first book was OK then I would strongly recommend Awakening as it is, in my opinion, an even more enjoyable read than Hyddenworld:Spring. This is a wonderful series that should get better and better with each book's release. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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If you are enjoying the Hyddenworld books and have yet to read William Horwood's Duncton Chronicles then you simply must give them a read. His fictional memoirs, The Boy With No Shoes, also comes highly recommended. Horwood is also the author of the Wolves of Time series. He lives and works in Oxford.

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