Along my reading journey, I’ve made a conscious decision to not only read the books on the shelves at my local Barnes & Nobles store, or online at Amazon, but to also try self-published, or indie, works as often as I can.
Now, I know several of you are snickering in the background or rolling your eyes at my idiot crusade to bring a few good indie works to light. And, believe me, I understand why you’d do that. Several years into this, I have to admit that I’ve probably stopped reading more indie faire than I’ve finished, but those that did keep my attention were — or had the potential to be — above average stories, and I’d like to occasionally share those few in the hope that you might also discover them.
So without any Stephen King disclaimers (Read my review of The Dark Tower Book VII to get the joke), let me introduce you to P.H. Solomon’s The Bow of Hart Saga!
Series: Bow of Hart Saga #1
Publisher: Self-Published (September 28, 2015)
Length: 305 pages
“Haunted by his past. Hunted in the present. Uncertain what is real. Athson has seen things that aren’t there and suffered fits since being tragically orphaned as a child at the hands of trolls and Corgren the wizard. When a strange will mentioning a mysterious bow comes into his possession, he’s not sure it’s real. But the trolls that soon pursue him are all too real and dangerous. And what’s worse, these raiders serve Corgren and his master, the hidden dragon, Magdronu, who are responsible for the destruction of his childhood home. Athson is drawn into a quest for the concealed Bow of Hart by the mystic Withling, Hastra, but Athson isn’t always sure what’s real and who his enemies are. With Corgren and Magdronu involved, Athson must face not only frequent danger but his grasp on reality and the reasons behind his tragic past.”
Sounds interesting. Sure, it has a bit of an old school fantasy feel to it, but
there is absolutely nothing wrong with that as long as the story itself is compelling. And so to determine if this was a series I wanted to get on board with I promptly picked up the free introductory short stories Mr. Solomon had released prior to The Bow of Destiny.
Series: Bow of Hart Saga #0.1
Publisher: Self-Published (August 8, 2015)
Length: 44 pages
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This short prequel to the series introduces readers to one Corgren. This down-on-his-luck man has seen his beloved wife Lucinda taken from him by the ravages of war and has retreated to the life of a river wanderer; he and his brother plying their trade as transporter of goods and knife-fighters all along the winding course of the Hart river.
It isn’t the best life, Corgren can admit to himself, but so far the prize money has been good and, at least, he is gaining some small measure of revenge against the hated Hartian by gutting their citizens in knife fight after knife fight.
Circumstances have begun to change though. Corgren’s brother becoming mixed up in dangerous business; something he is keeping hidden from his own flesh and blood. The only proof of it — besides Corgren’s intuition — a dragon tattoo on Paugren’s body.
When a mysterious stranger approaches Corgren after a fight, offers to grant him power to triumph over all his enemies, and displays a curious familiarity with Corgren’s personal secrets, he initially believes it is all a ruse. But slowly, it becomes clear much more is going on than it seems, and soon he is placed in a situation where he must choose between his own death or accepting the stranger’s offer — even though he doesn’t trust it.
What I can say about this introductory short is that it has some stellar knife fights, subtle characterization, and provides a wonderful hook to encourage new readers to continue on with the series. Nothing startling happens here, but it is a fun, quick read that does leave you wanting more. At least, it did for me, which is why I immediately picked up the second short story.
Series: Bow of Hart Saga #0.2
Publisher: Self-Published (September 3, 2015)
Length: 52 pages
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
This second prequel story focuses on Hastra, a young mystic of the Withling Order. She is only now returning from a cold, uneventful journey, and as she reaches the gates to her home at Withling Watch, all she desires is warmth and food. What unsuspecting Hastra receives, however, is a vision of death and destruction that stuns her!
From this beginning, the story focuses on Hastra’s life among the Withling, her attempts to uncover the meaning of her vision, and the fickle nature of prophecy as it all becomes clear far too late. There is even an appearance by some old friends!
All in all, “What Is Needed” was a good introduction to the Withlings and continued unveiling the major players in the land of The Bow of Hart Saga. While I can’t say that I enjoyed it as much as I did the first prequel that might be because the Withlings and their home have a very mystic school quality (not Hogwarts, but in that vein) that I personally am not a fan of. Definitely, another great teaser for the ongoing series though, and worth a try if you are interested in seeing if Mr. Solomon’s classic fantasy series is something you might enjoy.
Purchase the story at Amazon.