Review: THE GREATWOOD PORTAL by Dorian Hart

Publisher: Self-Published
Page Count: 371
Release Date: July 25th, 2019
Series: THE HEROES OF SPIRA, Book 3
Rating: 4/5 Stars – Really Liked it!

Warning: Possible light spoilers ahead for earlier books in the series. You can read reviews for those books here: THE VENTIFACT COLOSSUS, THE CROSSER’S MAZE

The Greatwood Portal

Having successfully retrieved the Crosser’s Maze, Horn’s Company is one step closer to sealing the portal that threatens to release a great evil from its prison. But their moment of victory is overshadowed by the knowledge that one of their own has been kidnapped by the Black Circle, and with that member in their clutches, the Black Circle will soon be able to rip the portal wide open. It’s a race against time to find and stop the Black Circle any way possible. Some hunt for clues about the cult’s locations, while others train allies for the coming battle; still others train their magics to be able to seal the portal once and for all. It’s finally time to save the world once and for all – but is Horn’s Company ready for the sacrifices that must be made to do so?

THE GREATWOOD PORTAL is another rousing installment in this old-school adventure series, one that takes the story in a slightly more serious direction. It doesn’t quite loose the earnest sheen of good-hearted adventurers out to save the world, but this time, both success and failure have some fairly dire consequences. Horn’s Company has to put everything they have into stopping the Black Circle, meaning sacrifices big and small must be made.

Those losses hit home, which is a testament to how much these characters have wormed their way into my heart. It felt great to settle down with Dranko and Aravia and Morningstar and the rest after some time away, and watching them go through the wringer definitely tugged on my heart strings. And while the focus is on that final task of saving the world, there was still room for character development. Morningstar and Aravia in particular have a lot of growth and change throughout THE GREATWOOD PORTAL, and I look forward to seeing what’s in store for them in the future.

And there will be a future, because even though this story builds up to the goal of stopping Naradawk’s escape once and for all (the goal originally set to Horn’s Company by the mage Abernathy), the final pages set up even more troubles ahead. This isn’t a huge shock, as THE HEROES OF SPIRA has always been a planned five-book arc, but it was a bit surprising to see such a pivotal battle happen midway through the series. The author has introduced a new element to keep things fresh, however, and I’m certainly intrigued to see where the story goes in the next book, THE INFINITE TOWER.

THE GREATWOOD PORTAL is in some ways a coming-of-age moment for the series. While previous books certainly didn’t avoid tragedy, this book really asks its characters how far they’re willing to go to save the day. There’s still moments of joy and victory to be found, but THE GREATWOOD PORTAL is a little more grounded in its stakes. The series hasn’t lost its old-school adventuring charm, but it definitely comes prepared to hit you in the feels.

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