Blood will water the corn…
It’s been a year since the Saranyu flotilla fell from the sky, and life in the Heartland has changed. Gone are the Obligations and the Harvest Home festivals. In their place is a spate of dead towns, the former inhabitants forced into mechanical bodies to serve the Empyrean—and crush the Heartland.
When Cael awakens from a Blightborn sleep, miles away from the world he remembers, he sets out across the Heartland to gather his friends for one last mission. As the mechanicals, a war flotilla, and a pack of feral Empyrean girls begin to close in on the Heartland, there isn’t much time to make their next move. But if they can uncover a secret weapon in time, Cael and his friends might just find themselves with the power to save the world—or destroy it—resting in their hands.
About the Author
Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter and game designer. He’s the author of many published novels, including but not limited to: Blackbirds, The Blue Blazes, and the YA Heartland series. He is co-writer of the short film Pandemic and the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. Wendig has contributed over two million words to the game industry. He is also well known for his profane-yet-practical advice to writers, which he dispenses at his blog, terribleminds.com, and through several popular e-books, including The Kick-Ass Writer, published by Writers Digest. He currently lives in the forests of Pennsyltucky with wife, tiny human, and red dog.
[This review is based on an advanced copy received from the publisher through NetGalley.]
Chuck Wendig returns to the Heartland one last time to wrap up his cornpunk opus in grand fashion.
The previous novel, Blightborn, left our MC, Cael McAvoy in seriously dire straights, but Wendig wastes no time in resolving it and jumping right into the action one year later. Tasked with a mission by the Maize Witch to recover a decades-old weapon that could destroy the Empyrean empire for good, Cael and his Obligated, Wendy, are off to save the Heartland! Along the way, familiar faces from past novels return to reestablish the cast of friends and enemies as the tyrannical rule of the evil skylords grows ever more constrictive. As the Heartland inches closer to war, McAvoy and his old crew of Sky Scavengers are simultaneously reunited and torn apart by conflicting loyalties, emotional turbulence, and a devastating attack by the Harpies, a band of teenage female warriors with self-inflicted scarring across their faces.
Across three novels, Wendig has expertly plumbed the emotional depths of his cast of characters, thrusting them into uniquely dark situations that make their hard-scrabbles lives all the more difficult and turbulent. The Harvest is no exception as, come hell or highwater, these new adults are forced to make very mature choices as they find their way in a very old world, fighting against a system that seeks only to oppress and dominate. The stakes are higher than they’ve ever been, particularly for Cael who, previously, had no ambition to change the world but to simply make his small part in it better for him and his. With adulthood thrust upon him, Cael is learning that the world is larger than he imagined, and much bigger than merely himself.
The world-building and mythology that has been developed in this series is utterly top-notch, drawing its cues from real-world food politics, comic books (I couldn’t help but sense shades of X-Men‘s Dark Phoenix Saga in one character’s progression through the story), and epic works, like Star Wars, which Wendig’s trilogy, and The Harvest in particular, have drawn multiple allusions to and several loving odes. Naturally enough, the Lord and Lady has seen fit to have Wendig author an upcoming Star Wars title, which is due out soon and will most definitely be hitting the top of my TBR stack upon release.
While I would certainly love to see Wendig return to this world in some capacity in the future, I’m quite happy with the time I was able to spend among the Sky Scavengers. I suspect my appreciation and fondness for this body of work will only grow stronger in the coming years, and I’ve grown a certain affection for this series across the three books. The Harvest is not only a solid work in its own right, filled with plenty of action and flotilla’s worth of heart and genuine emotion, but, equally important, it serves as a fitting finale to The Heartland Trilogy. There’s a sense of darkness to the proceedings here, but also a promise of hope and brightness. Fair warning, though: not everyone gets a happy ending, and not everyone walks away unscathed. But, that’s just life in the Heartland.