The Wretched Of Muirwood (Legends Of Muirwood: Book 1)
In the ancient and mystical land of Muirwood, Lia has known only a life of servitude. Labeled a “wretched,” an outcast unwanted and unworthy of respect, Lia is forbidden to realize her dream to read or write. All but doomed, her days are spent toiling away as a kitchen slave under the charge of the Aldermaston, the Abbey’s watchful overseer. But when an injured squire named Colvin is abandoned at the kitchen’s doorstep, an opportunity arises. The nefarious Sheriff Almaguer soon starts a manhunt for Colvin, and Lia conspires to hide Colvin and change her fate. In the midst of a land torn by a treacherous war between a ruthless king and a rebel army, Lia finds herself on an ominous journey that will push her to wonder if her own hidden magic is enough to set things right. At once captivating, mysterious, and magic-infused, The Wretched of Muirwood takes the classic fantasy adventure and paints it with a story instantly epic, and yet, all its own.
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I’ve become a bit jaded since discovering the plethora of cheap books for kindle – because there are simply so many of them, and also because many books have not proven to be worth my time.This book was absolutely worth my time! From chapter 1 I knew I’d likely have trouble putting it down, and I was right. The writing style is engaging, the story is fascinating, and the characters – well, they just work. They click; they resonate. Pasqua is a particular favourite of mine, because even though I can’t cook like her, I can certainly relate to her character and the softness beneath her brusque exterior.I loved the way magic – the Medium – had a light and a dark side, and how the choices of various characters determined how they could/could not use this power. I also loved the use of symbolism, as well as the refreshing lack of gratuitous violence/sexuality. Well done Jeff.
I’ve always thought a good novel stands on its characters. In “The Wretched of Muirwood”, Lia is a true-hearted and compelling heroine. She carries the story marvelously and has stayed with me as a good friend long past finishing.Combine an excellent cast of characters with an engrossing plot–even heart racing at times–and the Muirwood series is hard to put down. It has an exceptionally well-constructed world mythology with thought provoking themes on wisdom, faith, intention, and honor. Plus, it’s plain fun.I cannot believe it is so inexpensive as an e-book. It’s a no-brainer. Buy it and enjoy!
As a mild fan of fantasy novels (I’ve read the uber popular ones and will read ones recommended to me) I picked up this series on the recommendation of my two oldest children (14 yo girl & 12 yo boy). They said it was awesome and that I HAD to read it. So I did. And they were right.The setting and the characters are what is most important to me when I read fantasy. If those aren’t well done then things just seem forced. The setting of Muirwood Abbey and the main character of Lia are not only well done, but they seem to go perfectly together. I immediately felt an emotional connection to both that had me unable to put the book down.I highly recommend The Wretched of Muirwood!
Originally posted at FanLit.The Wretched of Muirwood is a book that I wouldn’t normally have picked up. It’s the opening installment of a trilogy that was first self-published by Jeff Wheeler through Createspace (an Amazon company) after being rejected by the traditional publishing houses Wheeler pitched it to. The book was later picked up by 47North, Amazon’s speculative fiction imprint. I’ve been skeptical of 47North titles because Amazon imprints don’t go through the normal publishing process, and because I was not pleased with the last couple of 47North novels I read. Personally, I love the idea of being able to self-publish, but as a reviewer, I can attest to the fact that most (but not all) self-published work I’ve encountered that wasn’t from an already well-known author has been… less than stellar. Far less than stellar. That’s because self-publishing doesn’t involve all those folks whose job it is to vet the work before it gets to the reader (agents, editors, slush-pile readers, and publicists).But Kindle Direct Publishing has led to a new model that Amazon has been trying for a couple of years now. Authors self-publish their books in Kindle format and keep complete control, pricing their book as they like. Amazon tracks the sales (and, I assume, the reviews) of these self-published books and offers contracts to authors whose books are doing well. Thus, authors have the burden of doing the self-promotion, often taking a monetary risk by giving away a lot of free e-copies to get attention, and those people getting the free copies are acting as Amazon’s slush-pile readers. A pretty good system for Amazon and for authors who are willing to do the work and who, presumably, have a product good enough to get the reviews they need. This is what happened to Jeff Wheeler; he gave away lots of free copies of The Wretched of Muirwood, got great reviews, and got Amazon’s attention. The Wretched of Muirwood came to my attention because Brilliance Audio (another Amazon company as of 2007) has been producing 47North titles on audio and sending me review copies. The cover of The Wretched of Muirwood is attractive and it’s narrated by actress Kate Rudd, which I thought was promising, so I gave it a go.That’s a really long introduction to Jeff Wheeler’s debut novel, which is a story about a girl named Lia who works in the kitchen of an abbey. More than anything Lia wishes she could be one of the students at the abbey, but she’s an orphan and is not allowed to study. When she saves the life of a young man named Colvin, she ends up accompanying him on a trip to meet up with a band of noblemen who oppose the tyrannical king. Along the way Lia discovers that she has some skills with magic and maybe even a Destiny.For readers who love the traditional tropes of epic fantasy and are looking for another story in which a humble young protagonist starts out illiterately baking bread in the kitchen of an ancient abbey but ends up as a warrior in an epic supernatural battle between good and evil, The Wretched of Muirwood is likely to please. It’s well-written (not beautiful, but certainly miles better than most self-published work I’ve read), has a nice setting, an interesting story, and moves at a good pace.The greatest strength of The Wretched of Muirwood is the characters. Lia is a pleasant protagonist — she’s smart, eager to learn, courageous, and nice to be around, but she’s not too perfect, at least at first. Other characters have their own distinct personalities and make a good supporting cast. None of them are anything we haven’t seen before in this type of epic fantasy, but they are pleasant to read about.Those who are looking for something new will find that The Wretched of Muirwood doesn’t stand out. This was exactly the issue I had with the last couple of 47North novels I read, though The Wretched of Muirwood is better. The story could have benefited from something special, like an original magic system. Wheeler’s magic consists of a nebulous energy called the Medium, which has its own mission and helps those who believe in it, similar to The Force in Star Wars or, more likely, the Christian Holy Spirit. After reading about Jeff Wheeler and discovering that he’s a bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I suspect that parts of his story may be metaphor for LDS doctrine. (I can’t say for sure since I’m unfamiliar with teaching that goes beyond what’s found in the Bible.)Jeff Wheeler originally pitched The Wretched of Muirwood as a young adult novel and I think that target audience will enjoy the book most and will want to read Lia’s further adventures in the next novel, The Blight of Muirwood. Brilliance Audio sent me the whole trilogy and I liked The Wretched of Muirwood well enough to give that second novel a try. Kate Rudd does a great job with the narration. She has a superior ear for the rhythm of the story and she can convincingly read both male and female parts.
As an avid reader (and a 26 year old woman), I am always looking for new and interesting novels. I was looking through the Kindle lending library, saw that though this book doesn’t have large numbers of reviews, everyone who has reviewed it had given it 5 stars, so I decided to give it a try. As a prime rental it was free, but after reading it, I immdediately purchased it, as well as the rest of the trilogy.The way I explained it to my husband was that it is almost a Star Wars meets King Aurthur. Which sounds a little strange, but it is a magical world with power akin to “the force”, but placed in a political medevil setting on a different world, similar to ours. I am not neccesarily a huge fan of Fantasy fiction, though I do love books like Harry Potter, Enders Game, Narnia, etc. I think that this book is one of those that can appeal to both young and old readers, and hold different levels of meaning and inspiration for each reader.It is placed in a rich, developed setting. The created world really comes to life. It is lush with detail and I can perfectly picture the settings in my mind, but the book is fast paced, easy to read, and full of life! There is deep religious subtext & symbology, but there is also friendship, love, betrayal, war, action, virtue, honor, pride, good, and evil.The characters are real, potent, developed, complex, and well written, the story is adventurous and compelling. What more could you ask for?I have read dozens of book, which I have enjoyed, but which I have not taken the time to review, or which I have not enjoyed enough to recommend to loved ones.I would (and have) recommended this book to my teen/tween nieces & nephew, my 20 & 30 something friends, my 58 year old mother, and even my grandmother!
The characters lost their free-will about halfway through the book and from then on quickly became puppets of the so-called Medium. To attempt to explain away the complete loss of free-will, the author uses some flowery language and famous quotes to imply that having doubts leaves you open to evil, and the only way to be good is to become a narrow-minded pawn who becomes impotent and corrupted when you try to make your own choices. I quickly realized that the characters are never in any danger, and they will never make surprising choices.In addition, the whole book had too many religious undertones, and I found the author’s notion that one must be completely obedient and subservient in order to be “good” to be slightly offensive.All of that said, the story itself was interesting for the first half of the book, and I actually enjoyed it for the most part. However, once I realized that deux ex machina would always prevail, and with absolutely zero risk to the main character, I quickly lost interest and began skipping through pages.
It’s not a bad thing to be inspired by your religion or examine themes from it in your fiction. But Wheeler hammers and overlays his religion like a template to this material. It completely controls the narrative to the point of being a distraction. I suppose it wouldn’t be as obvious to someone unfamiliar with Mormonism, but the whole thing is a labored allegory. Everything from temples and magic underwear to story elements from the Book of Mormon, to views on God and the priesthood. He even manages to rephrase and steal passages directly from the Doctrine and Covenants (part of Mormon scripture). I wish I could have had more fun with the book, but it’s just too much.
I recently received this book as a gift, and read it based upon my wife’s recommendation, who read it quickly and has moved onto the 2nd book in the series, which she says is even better than the first. About a 1/4 of the way into it, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. I had to find out what was going to happen next (thanks for keeping me up past my bedtime many nights). The main character, Lia, is likable and easy to sympathize with as she is suddenly and unexpectedly thrown into a dangerous adventure with discovery of her unknown past and the mysterious powers she holds.
Well it was entertaining I will give it that just wish they would warn you that it was religious fantasy first,
The book uses a magic system that relies on the characters having blind faith and discourages critical thinking. This leads to situations where instead of the characters coming up with interesting ideas and plans, they just sit there and believe that they will win, then shockingly they do. This completely kills any tension that the books attempt to create, because you already know that if they just sit there and do nothing god will intervene and save the day. It’s a shame because the characters were quite likable so I was hoping for a lot more from the books. I think the author has tried to create a fantasy world where religion actually ‘works’ but it just ends up not making any sense.