How wood burns in a wood-burning stove
A fuller understanding of the way in which wood burns, which informs most modern stove design, will help you to get the most out of your stove. Heat output, ease of use, safe operation, the avoidance of tarring in the chimney and keeping your stove glass clean are all factors greatly influenced by the way you burn your wood.
In a properly-used stove, wood burns in three phases; this relies on maintaining a suitably high temperature in the combustion chamber. Over half the available energy in a log comes from burning the gases released in the primary stage of combustion - when the surface of the log ignites. These gases will only burn at extremely high temperatures. Failing to ignite the gases not only means failing to extract all the available energy, but also results in the creation of smoke and particulates, as well as the risk of those gases condensing either inside your stove or inside the flue as creosote, a primary cause of chimney fires. Once those gases are burnt off, you are left with charcoal, a pure and excellent fuel that will burn at high temperature for a long time.
Achieving excellent woodburning is easy in a well-built and appropriately-sized stove (it's the main reason why it's better to run a small stove hard than maintain a large one on tick-over) with a little bit of knowledge; essentially it comes down to using dry wood with the correct mix of air at high temperatures. For an excellent, and concise, explanation of how wood burns, read this resource from Montana State University.