FROM THE BOOKCOVERGordath Wood is the debut fantasy novel of author Patrice Sarath and a very fine debut it is.
Worlds collide in Gordath Wood.
Something strange is happening in Gordath Wood, the old woods surrounding a training stable called Hunter's Chase. The police think Lynn Romano and Kate Mossland have been murdered, but what actually occurred is much stranger. They've gone through a hole between worlds, into a medieval society at war. In a world that doesn't ordinarily have use for women, the danger is great—good thing Lynn and Kate aren't your ordinary women.
Lynn is the head trainer at the Hunter’s Chase stables. One of the show horses is skittish after a show and she decides to ride him back to the farm through the nearby woods. The woods have an unnatural reputation. She never arrives. The next morning Kate, an apprentice stablehand who idolizes Lynn rides out after the search parties and she disappears as well. Joe the farms’ handyman and Lynn’s lover is placed under suspicion for their disappearances despite an alibi.
Both Lynn and Kate find themselves transported to unfamiliar areas of the woods only to discover they are not in the proverbial Kansas any more but are in fact in some feudal society on the brink of war. They end up captured by opposing factions in the conflict.
There is lots of well described gritty detail about the culture and the military and the story unfolds through multiple character viewpoints including Lynn, Kate, Joe and several of the key parallel world characters adding even more perspective. I would have liked to have spent more time with some and less with others, but then it would have been a much longer book and I suspect it is the opening salvo of a potential series, so everyone important seems to get a slice of the action.
The Gordath Wood of the title is a supernatural force and is a character in its own right and central to the story. It is a dimensional portal that breeches the two worlds. The gordath as it is know is normally controlled and kept closed by a Guardian who has disappeared (in fact to our world) and if it is not closed soon escalating quakes, storms and other forces could potentially rip the worlds apart. And in addition to the war going on did I mention the gun runner from our world that is supplying firearms to one of the factions?
Lynn and Kate’s individual stories are compelling and Kate’s in particular is traumatic as she struggles to survive the predations of a hostile military camp. There are also some amusing scenes where modern technology is demonstrated and explained to the more primitive culture. And of course there is Joe's story as he tries to clear his name and the unveiling of the mysterious tale of the owner of the Hunter's Chase farm.
There was a moment of dismay as I got towards the end of the novel with very few pages remaining, realizing that the book could turn out to be disaster as so many plotlines were started and unresolved. How could it possibly be brought to a conclusion without loose ends and too many unanswered questions? Needless to say I was very much impressed with how Sarath pulled it all together. By no means are there HEA endings for everyone but the main story arcs were addressed with style and originality.
I liked this book and hope Patrice Sarath returns to the world of Gordath Wood soon. I would like to conclude with a quote from the author’s website where she talks about why she wrote the book. I agree.
Basically it has all of the elements of books I like to read. And although everybody has different tastes, I am betting that more than a few of you also like your books the same way I do — shaken and stirred.Read the first chapter.