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Hart's Hope

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  3,821 ratings  ·  210 reviews
A dark and powerful fantasy from the bestselling author of Ender's Shadow.

Enter the city of Hart's Hope, ruled by gods both powerful and indifferent, riddled with sorcery and revenge. The city was captured by a rebellious lord, Palicrovol, who overthrew the cruel king, Nasilee, hated by his people.

Palicrovol, too, was cruel, as befitted a king. He took the true mantle of k
Paperback, 300 pages
Published August 2nd 2003 by Orb Books (first published 1983)
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James The story doesn't have an obvious plot in the modern sense of following or one or several characters from point to point (at least in the beginning). …moreThe story doesn't have an obvious plot in the modern sense of following or one or several characters from point to point (at least in the beginning). It's styled like many historical epics, which are composed of a number of mini-tales explaining how one thing or another came about in history (How the King met his queen, how the Tyrant's daughter became evil, How the Prince discovered his magical power). Old epics don't have the same smooth transitions like modern stories do, and Card is really trying to copy that style of writing here.

I would say that the main theme is how doing what's right/just can often be in conflict with doing what is expedient/helpful. The main conflict is set off by Palicrovol's half measure of taking compassion on Asineth and keeping her alive after disgracing her publicly. All his miseries stem from that half-hearted decision to not choose one way or another. In contrast, Orem is a legitimately good and just person, but his decisions, while good for the realm, ultimately lead to his own personal misery.

You can also see it as a deconstruction of the "evil queen" trope, as we see all the horrible steps that lead Asineth to become the cold tyrant she is. (less)

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Average rating 3.47  · 
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 ·  3,821 ratings  ·  210 reviews

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6.0 stars. One of my All time favorite novels. I am a big Orson Scott Card fan and this is my favorite book of his (Speaker for the Dead is second and Ender's Game is third). This is an emotionally devastating novel that will leave you thinking about it long after the book is done. Card himself calls this his best writing ever and I completely agree. It is a very "dark" fantasy so don't go into this looking for a "feel good" book. That said, this is an amazing piece of writing that I think gets ...more
Jun 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This book defies description. It must be one of the most underrated books in its genre, because it is so great I can't understand why it's not more well-known. As may be apparent from my book list, I'm a big fan of fantasy, but I'm also extremely picky and can't abide the Xena Warrior Princess nonsense that is so abundant on fantasy shelves. Orson Scott Card is just shy of Tolkien greatness. I love that this book doesn't hold your hand. You have to immerse yourself in the language and live with ...more
Jun 24, 2008 rated it did not like it
Normally, I'm a big fan of Orson Scott Card. I find him an intelligent, imaginative writer and excellent at creating real, multi-faceted characters. I also love his common themes of family, parenting, and religion. And while Hart's Hope contains all of these, it is so crude, vulgar, and downright foul in so many places that I can't imagine who would actually like reading this book. It was obviously written by a young Card--not only is it not as well constructed as his later novels, it simply ree ...more
Aug 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
"if only we could stand outside our lives and look at what we do, we might repair so many injuiries before they're done."

When I was younger I considered this my favorite single OSC book (yes, even above Ender's Game). It's been many years since I've re-read it, and it wasn't quite able to hold on to that top position (yes, back to Ender's Game).

I described the book to someone else on goodreads as:

his most dark and yet most beautiful book.

I think that description still stands. It's certainly dar
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: pedophiles
Shelves: fantasy, tenebris
If this book hadn't been so short I don't think I could have finished it, there were so many revolting scenes of cruelty, child molestation and perversion.
Feb 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Orson Scott Card (OSC) needs little introduction for anyone that has ever read a menagerie of Sci-Fi. OSC is responsible for the "Enders Game" series which has won him both the Nebula and Hugo award and thus making him the only author to consecutively win both awards. Although I have never read the "Enders Game" series, I am familiar with it's celebrity and have a general idea of what it is about. He also is a life long Mormon, who has advocated loudly in favor of the church. It just so happens ...more
Jan 27, 2009 rated it did not like it
My least favorite of his books. It is his first stab at fantasy, and feels like it. The violence feels gratuitous. I had a hard time liking the characters.
Sep 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
Total crap and needlessly gory and violent. But if you like rape and baby-eating, then this is the book for you.
Richard Kelly
Warning!!!! This book is dark! Ridiculously dark! It contains abuse, humiliation, degradation, torture, imprisonment, possession, rape, incest, and much more. But to emphasize my point, these things are not the reason it is so dark. It is the way these subjects are broached, described, and carried out that makes it so disturbing.

If the purpose of a novel is to allow the reader to experience things in life without having to have lived it, maybe Hart’s Hope is a magnificent piece. But, if the purp
Mike Copeland
Aug 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Very intense, and it is a little bit of a tragedy. No one is completely good or completely bad, but there are clear lines of good/evil dilineation. The religious/cultural inter-play is facinating. The women have their own religion, and the men debate between two others, but often actually follow both. The whole story is wrapped up in lineage, in fertiltiy, in growth and power. Thus there is alot of sexual inuendo and actual action, but it is not superfluous. It plays into the relifious and essen ...more
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People with strong stomachs . . .
When the author signed my copy, he wrote "For Dan: a tale of sweetness and light".

He didn't mean it.

This is possibly the darkest, bloodiest, most unrelentingly depressing fantasy I've ever read, and I love it. I've read it six times. This probably says something not very flattering about me, but there you are. It also is beautifully written, thoroughly realized, and haunting. I can't recommend it highly enough, provided you've got a taste for the disturbing.

Which I apparently do.
Mar 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasysci-fi
What's all this fuss about "darkness"? Pay no mind, fantasy fans; there's nothing here worse than what you'll find in Goodkind or GRRM. There is, however, delicate prose that seems to hold great meaning. Reading the book almost feels like unrolling a tapestry (though that tapestry may hold centuries of torture, all bodily fluids, and immeasurable hate). Beauty and ugliness in all their forms are equally as common in Hart's Hope, strengthening the impact of each. Characters' motivations are explo ...more
Sep 28, 2010 rated it did not like it
I didn't like this book. I tried to like it, but couldn't. Getting to know the characters was difficult, and then names started to change. I couldn't align with any of the characters. It was like a story of dark vs dark, evil vs evil. Nobody to cheer for. It was too erotic for my taste as well. Just not a good read in my opinion.
Jenny Clark
This was a little strange for Orson Scott Card, but interesting all the same. Some parts were a little hard to read in all honosty. There did not need to be that much detail about bodily function and child bride. It is set in a different world and the past, however, so I can overlook it to an extent.
That ending though.... What a way to leave it open.
Dec 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
A good Card classic. Intricate, well thought out plot with strong well developed characters. A little graphic for my tastes...but hey.
Pixi Jo
Never ever ever have I given such a violent book, such a sad book, 5 stars before, at best it would have received two stars and a haughty look from me before I tore it up as Rat cage litter and satisfyingly forget its existence. This book has rape, it has violence, it has despair...
(view spoiler)

But oh, none of this is ever used gratuitousl
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
My husband has been wanting me to read this for years. I went into it not knowing a thing about it, and all I can say is, what the heck did I just read? I still don't know the point of the book, it was very dark which I don't necessarily mind if it lifts at some point with some sort of redemption, but no. I feel like it's supposed to be a cautionary tale, but of what I just don't know. It didn't make a lot of sense, it didn't have a point, and it was filled with a lot of ickiness.
Jan 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook, fantasy
I feel very mixed about this book.

I liked some of the magic and a lot of the religious aspects of the book (the religions/worship that were present in the book, not that the book is preachy), but overall, a lot of the book felt a little over the top.

This is a very early foray for Card into fantasy, and it does feel like it. He has definitely refined his fantasy writing since this time. It's not a total waste, but I feel like a lot of potential was lost.
Orson Scott Card has written some of my favorite books of all time, so I am so grateful that I did not pick up this book before I had read most of his others. I even considered reading the whole thing, just because I like this author so much, but after the rape of the 12-year-old girl I just couldn't take anymore and decided it would be best to abandon this one.
Sep 02, 2007 rated it liked it
This book is very good. It is however, written rather oddly; more like a compilations of smaller stories than one whole story. It works well though and makes for an interesting read. Warning: the book is rather violent/dark in some parts; it also contains (not too in depth depiction of) rape.
Nov 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
It's been a long while since I've been fully swept up in a solid high fantasy. It's also been a while since I've read anything that can do horrifying and beautiful at the same time. I've missed the old style fantasy voice.
Greg Paulson
Dec 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Read it in the mid/early 2000s. Don't remember much except that I liked it, and that it was set in a the old pagan times.
Nov 22, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
ok, I admit I didn't finish it... I really couldn't, I saw no reason why (although I did read the end), probably the violence was in fact the more 'realistic' side of it but it was too much for me.
May 31, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, 2012
Ugh. No. Just no.
Austen Miller Aceituna
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I don't write reviews, but this book is being done a complete injustice by the other reviews here. Including most of the positive ones.

Hart's Hope is not Fantasy. It seems to draw little inspiration from the modern genre and really pulls from pre-Disney pre-Grimm myths and fairy-tales. If you're familiar with the original versions of those myths, then you know that this is why there are so many awful things portrayed in this book. It dares to be something almost unheard of in modern fantasy: a t
Noel Bleu
I discovered Hart's Hope by Orson Scott Card while reading a readers digest reference book written by Card. In it he discussed a variety of topics to help readers write their novels and he used his own experiences and writing as examples.

Card is the author of the Ender's Game saga and a literary icon from what I've researched. It only made sense that I read his fantasy novel, to glean some hidden wisdom from his work.

I definitely learned a lot from reading it.

What I learned most was, though I
Christopher Rush
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This one is ... something else. It was my first OSC novel many years ago, I once got him to autograph it, so I won't be giving it up anytime soon, but now on finally re-reading it as a grown-up, I clearly did not understand most of this book during my first reading all those years ago. George RR Martin and Westeros can only dream of being this dark and gritty, and I mean that sincerely. Mr. Card wrote in his inscription on my copy something to the effect of this is a story of "sweetness and ligh ...more
Leah Baker
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Orson Scott Card’s book “Enchantment” is one of my favorite novels, so I had been searching for another fantasy novel of his when I discovered “Hart’s Hope.” I was not displeased! Meandering at times, but tied together quite beautifully at its close, “Hart’s Hope” weaves its own entirely new, yet nostalgic folktale. I may even have enjoyed it more than “Enchantment” because it forsakes the modern world entirely and lives within the borders of the world Orson Scott Card created. It takes a few ch ...more
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Well. I don't really know what to say.

I think I first read this book when I was around eleven and didn't have a very good grasp of what the heck is happening in this book--that being lots of child death/rape, torture porn, and other ickiness. Maybe I blocked it out. I knew it disturbed me back then and now but I thought I'd give the audiobook at double speed a listen yesterday, and well... hm. I don't think I'd recommend this book to anyone.

The best element is probably the worldbuilding that Ca
Sep 13, 2018 rated it did not like it
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Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools.

Besides these and other science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series Th

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