3.5 stars out of 5
I previously reviewed the Legends of Muirwood series and wanted to talk about the Covenant of Muirwood as well. There are also three books in this series named The Banished of Muirwood, The Ciphers of Muirwood, and The Void of Muirwood. The author, Jeff Wheeler, did not want to let go of his world quite yet and I am glad.
This series is in the same world of Muirwood but is about a hundred years in the future from Lia’s time. In fact, most of the main characters are descendants from the previous series’ heroes. It is always fun to see how legends and stories get passed down from generation to generation. I do think Wheeler accurately portrayed the characteristics of everyone’s descendants. Family traits do get passed down, but the individual stories influence people as well. Maia and Collier do remind me of their ancestors, but have very different stories and chose new paths to follow.
A New Beginning?
However, the first book is not a good introduction to the series. It can be assumed that most people who read the Covenant of Muirwood series will have read The Legends of Muirwood already. That is a problem since in the first book, The Banished of Mirwood, Maia sees the Dotchte Mandar as being as good as the Mastons. So is she being led astray? Or has that order really changed? And when you begin to feel like you understand things, characters will do things out of character and confuse you all over again.
It doesn’t help that Maia is constantly having flashbacks without any warning. While I understand that these flashbacks are supposed to help the reader get a grip on what’s happening, I don’t understand much of what is going on until the end of the book. Intrigue and deceit can really make for a moving and surprising story, but only when you are not the target of it. And that is how I feel in the first book. It feels like Wheeler is trying to confuse his readers which probably makes some just stop reading altogether. There should be more of a balance here.
The Meek Shall Inherit
As the story progresses Maia reveals herself to be a very kindhearted and meek individual. Living at the abbeys only encourages those traits and I would call her a full pacifist by the end of the series. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I think meekness is a very powerful and difficult characteristic to have. But, it doesn’t read well. At least not in this story. Especially in the last book, The Void of Muirwood, where Maia refuses to hurt anyone herself at every opportunity. She forgives and frees those who should at the very least, be in jail. She lets a known assassin kidnap her and makes so many unsafe decisions.
I believe you shouldn’t go looking for fights, but you have a right to defend yourself and your family. These are books that encourage faith and I can see the power in that, but the ending is so very anti-climatic. There is this huge, unfightable-savage army at their doorstep ready to slaughter and commit so many acts of horror. And one action changes their entire mindset. I can understand it scaring them, but complete submissiveness? From a society of brutal totalism? It just doesn’t seem realistic to me.
The ending reminds me of the Twilight series final battle. There is this huge setup for a final conflict that just dissipates. Although I am sure the characters are relieved to not fight, it is disappointing to read about.
I still think these books are worth a read if you read the first, and I really enjoyed Collier’s story (he is definitely the highlight of these books). Just keep in mind, you have to finish the first book to understand things. The middle book is great, and the last book does finish tying everything together, even in a bit unsatisfactory way.
Books in the Covenant of Muirwood Series
Maia travels to discover a way to help her kingdom but instead finds those planning its demise through her.
Maia learns more about the Mastons through a secret organization at the abbey of Muirwood while outside forces attack.
The Naestors are on their way to decimate Maia’s budding kingdom and there seems to be no way to stop them.