Appearances are there to be ignored, for the biggest hearts may reside in the smallest and unlikeliest of creatures. Those who fail to look beyond the surface will never encounter true virtue – not in others and certainly not in themselves.
So what’s the book about?
The Protected Land – here humans, elves and dwarves live side by side in peace. Even if there are small skirmishes between the different races, their common interest is to keep the hordes of orcs and ogres away from their land. This is the responsibility of the dwarves, who guard the magic-infused portals in the mountains and know how to prevent any intrusion from outside. Then a breakthrough succeeds that completely wipes out the fifth dwarf tribe. With the help of dark magic and a debilitating disease, the orcs storm the Stone Gateway of the Northern Pass with the hostile Albae and bring an ominous plague upon the land. Slowly but steadily it spreads and finally only an army led together with dwarves and humans seems to be able to defy this power. The six master mages are also challenged – but it is about all the dwarf Tungdil, who grew up apart from his people, who seems to be the decisive cog in the work of fate.
Why I wanted to read this series?
Markus Heitz is one of the most famous German fantasy authors and that’s why I read the book The Dwarves a very long time ago, because I’m a big fan of the dwarves and I think that the dwarves are just the coolest race there is. They are rough, they like to drink beer and they are so cute – who can’t love the dwarves? Even though Markus Heitz is a big celebrity in Germany, I was quite surprised when I saw that this author has also been translated into English. Because fantasy usually only comes from the USA or the UK and fantasy series from other countries are hardly ever translated, or so I feel. Therefore, I would like to bring a German author closer to you and that’s why I wanted to write a review about this book. Markus Heitz also has many other series, but I haven’t read them yet.
These aspects attracted me the most while reading.
- The title already contains the word dwarves, so it was immediately clear to me that I wanted to read this book at that time. I already found the dwarves the best race in Lord of the Rings, because they are so rough and witty and despite their size, they can wield a heavy and strong axe. I also took the dwarves in this book to my heart – because even though you might have to get used to their pugnacious and swashbuckling nature, they are a good-hearted and sincere people in their pride and their cohesion against evil, and you don’t have to worry about being on their side, because with their axe and their will to fight, they are pretty much unbeatable! However, even they are not immune to traitors and intrigues, and so many adverse circumstances arise to challenge them in the fight against evil. Overall, I found it a very good change to have the dwarves – who only play a supporting role in other classics – at the centre of attention for once. Tradition, stubbornness and courage – all values that the dwarves consistently live out in the Safe Land and which sometimes almost made me despair while reading.
- Tungdil is a kind-hearted dwarf who grows up among humans and has more of the character traits of a human. Tungdil’s unfamiliarity of his origins and of his people makes it easy to enter the world of the dwarves, because the reader is first taught a lot of dwarves knowledge. The protagonist Tungdil is a reliable partner whose naivety and inexperience serve as a bridge between the reader and the Protected Land. Even if Tungdil does not have any dwarves traits at the beginning, such as stubbornness and the desire to fight, he is a lovable dwarf who slowly finds his way back to his origins, but still retains his humanity. Moreover, the companions he meets on his journey show that Tungdil is not the typical dwarf, but a loving person full of fear.
- This book not only delivers a great story, but also the necessary suspense to keep reading. In almost every paragraph, new secrets open up to the reader that he or she would like to find out more about, and that is why he or she keeps reading. That is not the only reason, the flexible and wonderfully entertaining writing style of author Markus Heitz makes reading an exciting adventure, you want to stand at Tungdil’s side, fight with Andokai the Stormy, you want to smack No’donn behind the ears and learn magic formulas from Lot-Ionan. In addition, there is a lot of charm and wit, as well as creepiness and a bit of disgust in the appropriate places. The structure is well done, firstly of the world itself with all its developments, cultures and its own chronology; but also of the course of the plot. At first, the pace is rather slow, but there are constant surprises and twists that build up the tension more and more.
So what are my final thoughts about it?
Exciting, rich in detail, emotional, sometimes a little joke here and there and very beautifully written. The flow of reading and the often unexpected plot makes it hard to stop. This is also the first high fantasy saga to feature dwarves; I enjoyed it very much. I really liked Tungdil. He goes through such character development too, from blacksmith and sort of caretaker to dwarves apprentice to leader. I can imagine that it is not easy to write a book about fantastic people who are so popular. I respect that Markus Heitz took on this challenge and treated his dwarves with a lot of love. He really took the little ones to his heart; there is no question about that. Nevertheless, I wish he had conceived “The Dwarves” with a little more creativity. I was also not entirely convinced by the ending, because for me, it concluded the story and hinted at a second volume in one sentence, which could have been solved better. The story can also be read very well as a stand-alone work, as the adventure is dealt with afterwards. If you want to read a simple and light high-fantasy story that seduces you into the world of the dwarves, you can’t go wrong with this book.
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