Narrator: James Foster
Publisher: Robert Allen Johnson (2015)
Length: 5 hours 20 minutes
Series: Book 1 Empire and the Hand
Set in an ancient world where might often makes right, Tiro and his sister must navigate around deadly pitfalls. Young Tiro is an excellent shot with the bow and he hates the Empire and all who serve it. Meanwhile, we have this traveler, Arach, who is an older man. He is plagued by a supernatural entity, the wraith, which gives him and his horse no end of grief.
This was a very captivating book. It had that historical fiction quality about it that often made me feel like I was reading a story set in ancient Asia someplace. Then the author pulls in some fantastical elements here and there which make the story a little spooky and that much more interesting. The first openings scenes had me hooked. I definitely wanted to know more about what was going on and why Tiro was taking people out with his bow and why he has so much anger. The author was able to keep my interest at that level for much of the book.
Tiro and his sister are close and they both care about their mother; their step-father is another story. This rebel group, the Hand, has their eye on Tiro. The Hand is well organized with a chain of command and supply routes and contingency plans. However, they do demand obedience and Tiro does have a little problem with doing as he’s told. Tiro’s sister has a few good lines but after the first few chapters, she fades into the background until a certain important event happens later. So, if there is one thing that could strengthen this book, it would be to have more female characters and give them relevant roles.
Arach is the other main character and he is a bit more mysterious. He’s not as full of anger as Tiro is. In fact, he talks to his horse and seems quite fond of him. Then there’s this wraith that plagues him. At first, it’s a suspicious pest, but as the story progresses, it becomes a true threat.
With this wraith being such a nuisance, I did wonder if maybe Tiro is putting his energies into fighting the wrong Big Bad Guy (the Empire). There’s definitely something more afoot in the land and the author has set us up perfectly for a sequel to figure out what that is. Over all, this was a good solid read that I enjoyed quite a bit. The main characters had more complexity than I expected and the world building was good. Definitely looking forward to the next in the series.
I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the author (via the GoodReads Audiobooks group) in exchange for an honest review.
The Narration: James Foster did a very good job with these characters. Tiro sounds like a young man and Arach sounds like an old crotchety man. His female voices are believable. He did a good job getting strong emotions across without overdoing them.
What I Liked: The setting; more than one enemy; the rebels are organized but perhaps too rigid; Tiro and his sister are close; Arach and his horse are buddies; lots of interesting things going on with that wraith; ready for the sequel!; excellent cover art; great narration.
What I Disliked: The ladies are underrepresented.
What Others Think: