Revenge might not be the finale hoped for.
Life has not been easy for battle-weary Tungdil the dwarf. But this heroic warrior can’t rest yet, as he must now face the most formidable enemy the kingdom has ever encountered. A new evil is terrorising the land of Girdlegard. Monstrous hybrid creatures are on the rampage, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. They are out to steal an artefact which is vital for the kingdom’s defence, and whoever holds it could control the world. With the existence of the dwarves under threat, Tungdil must resort to his trusty double axe and risk everything he knows to save his country from annihilation…
Revenge of the Dwarves is the final installment in Markus Heitz’s international best-selling trilogy, and as such, it sees the return and demise of some the series’ most memorable characters. Fans of the books will welcome back Tungdil Goldhand, Boïndil Doubleblade and the ‘fabulous Rodario’ as they embark on ever more dangerous missions to save their land, while also enduring some unexpected departures for the series.
Time has changed our hero here, and ‘Revenge’ introduces a very different Tungdil from the one we left in ‘War’. Having gone through difficult times with wife Balyndis, Tungdil returns as an overweight, drunk and miserable old dwarf whose soul has all but abandoned him. Though it’s not long before the various threats to Girdlegard and the words of his trusty friend Boïndil pull him from his reverie, Tungdil remains a vastly different character here from the one we know.
Unfortunately, this character twist is wound a little too tightly and Tungdil’s new persona doesn’t ever really convince. The drunk, depressed dwarf we meet at the beginning of the book feels like an implausible version of a character we know and love, with even the moment of his redemption failing to truly convince. This suggests from an early point, that Heitz’s style is less suited to dramatic character change as it is to world building or establishing atmospheric tension.
Even after Tungdil recovers from his alcoholism, he then begins to question himself and tries to decipher what he really wants out of life. His eventual admission that he’s incapable of settling down - with any one person or in any one place - ignites various personal dramas that last across the duration of the book. As previously though, these problems never feel quite right and the reader is faced with a different version of the dwarf hero they know so well. The author’s decision to ‘complicate’ his main man is understandable but unnecessary here, and, because it never really works, it subsequently detracts from the momentum of the novel and mars the definite memory of his hero. Sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with a hero being just that; not every protagonist has to experience some life profundity.
Tungdil’s not the only one going through change however, as all the characters have matured (except possibly the fabulous Rodario) this time around. Furgas possesses some dark secrets, while Boïndil Doubleblade is back but brotherless, his cheery demeanour bringing a pleasant, and desperately needed, drop of humour to the narrative. Newbies Sirka, Goda and Bramdal all have their own agendas, bringing something new to the Girdlegard table.
As in the previous instalments evil is once again permeating the land. But this time it’s not only the dreadful schemes of ‘the unslayable one’ Nagsor Inaste that threatens the peace, but the strained relations between the Elves, Dwarves and humans as they begin suspecting each other of treachery and deceit. While the murderous alfar may now be out of the picture, the elfish atar are a new enemy to be conquered. And, as if evil elves that look exactly like good elves aren’t problematic enough, Heitz has envisioned yet another embodiment of evil to wreak havoc on his band of heroes. Hideous mechanical creatures, that call to mind China Miéville’s Iron Council creations, destroy everything they encounter and, although the prose might not be as overwhelming as in Miéville’s book, the sense of horror Heitz generates at the distorted beings is equally powerful.
There are some great new concepts here, such as the island under the lake and ‘the artefact’, and the sequential disappearance of the diamonds really gets you wondering what’s going on. The new city of Letefora is a narrative reserve just waiting to be tapped and Tungdil’s new weapon is a thing of real beauty.
Sadly though, Revenge lacks the momentum of its predecessors, the story feeling like as series of individual events strung together by a one meandering narrative arc. Characters disappear and reappear when convenient, and the book continues for far longer than is comfortable at 762 pages.
Although it’s presented as the end of the series, the final chapters leave a lot open to interpretation, and Heitz’s acknowledgements clearly point at a return to Girdlegard in the future. Although Revenge might not be the finale hoped for, another adventure to the true land of the Dwarves would be welcome anytime.
Review by Alice Wybrew
1 positive reader review(s) for The Revenge of the Dwarves
Joshua from Holland
In my opinion a good book, the story of was well written and had a good plot. The newly introduced characters were all a pleasure to be acquainted with. The end was quite surprising though and had gotten me silent for a minute. I really recommend this previously final part of the Dwarves saga.
7.1/10 from 2 reviews