Michael Moorcock is well known for his novels that share the same multiverse, an idea that many different universes are possible (similar in theory to Resonance by Chris Dolley). Silverheart written by Michael Moorcock and Storm Constantine is a fantasy novel set in Karadur, the center of this multiverse.
The city of Karadur is dying. Yet the four major clans who rule-- Iron, Silver, Gold and Steel—are unable to save it. The citizens can feel it and are looking for a hero. They find one in Max Silverskin, a thief, the only one to escape Gargonott, the prison of Karadur. But his escape came at a price. The mysterious force that helped him escape, also gave him the witch's mark, the silverheart. Max learns that this silverheart will help him save the city, but it will also take his life. He also learns that the legendary underworld of Shriltasi is real, as is the existence of barishi, a magical force that is prevalent in Shriltasi, but suppressed in Karadur. He is part of a prophecy, the one who can keep both Karadur and Shriltasi from dying. With the help of the Jack and Jenny Ash, the one-time rulers of Shriltasi, Max must use his own barishi to save both cities.
The storyline is a common one, even outside of fantasy fiction: an unexpected hero discovers he has powers that may save his world. One of the best elements in Silverheart is the vivid settings. The descriptions of the city paint a detailed picture that gave me a real feeling of place and atmosphere. While the characters had great potential, I don't think they were developed as well as they could have been. Many of the major players seemed little more than stock characters. The pacing of the story was somewhat uneven, slow moving in many places, but engrossing in other spots. While the ending managed to wrap up all of the major threads of the story, I found it a bit cliché.
Silverheart was a difficult book to review. I had actually tried to read it about a month ago, but had trouble finishing even the prologue, which is very dense with details about the noble clans and Karadur. One this second try, once I trudged through the prologue, I found the book both enjoyable and tiresome. Some sections echoes the denseness of the prologue with very little action, but other sections were exciting. Overall, Silverheart is a nice diversion, maybe a good book to take out of the library, but perhaps not destined to hold a permanent place on my shelf.