Lord Of A Shattered Land by Howard Andrew Jones (reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

 

Official Howard Andrew Jones
LiveJournal

Order “Lord Of A Shattered Land” HERE

Read Fantasy
Book Critic’s review
of The Desert Of
Souls


AUTHOR
INFORMATION: 
With
eight collections edited for the University of Nebraska PressHoward
Andrew Jones
 is the acknowledged expert on historical fiction
writer Harold Lamb.
He has also written a number of short stories featuring Dabir and Asim which
have appeared in a variety of publications over the last ten years,
including Black Gate magazine,
where he currently serves as the Managing Editor. The Desert of Souls was
his debut novel.

PLOT SUMMARY: A vast empire’s greatest foe. A conquered people’s
last hope. His name is Hanuvar, and he will set his people free!

The Dervan Empire has at last triumphed over Volanus, putting the great city to
the torch, its treasures looted, temples defiled, and fields sown with salt.
What little remains of Volanus is scattered across the empire, its treasures
plundered and its survivors sold into slavery. It is an absolute victory for
the Dervans in every way but one.

Hanuvar, last and greatest general of Volanus, still lives. He now travels the
length of the Dervan Empire that conquered his homeland, driven by a singular
purpose—to find what remains of his people who were carried into slavery across
the empire, and free them from subjugation by any means necessary.

Against the might of a vast empire, he had only an aging sword arm, a lifetime
of hard-won wisdom, and the greatest military mind in the world, set upon a
single goal. No matter what the Empire musters against him, no matter what man
or monster stands in his way, from the empire’s festering capital to its
furthest outposts, Hanuvar would find his people, every last one of them.

And he would set them free.

FORMAT/INFO: Lord Of A Shattered Land is 476 pages long
divided over fourteen numbered & titled chapters along with a preamble and
afterword. Narration is in the third person, via various characters. This is the first volume of the Chronicles Of HanuvarAugust
1, 2023
 marks the North American Hardcover publication of Lord
Of A Shattered Land
via Baen Books.


OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS:  With Lord
Of A Shattered Land
, Howard Andrew
Jones
starts a new sword & sorcery odyssey that’s perfect for new fantasy
fans as well as older ones who still recall the heydays of sword and sorcery.  The story structure is a slightly unique one
and especially for book one of a series.

The story setting is
a pseudo Mediterranean one where Volanus is the Carthage analog in this world
and  the Dervan empire  is the oppressive Roman one. The book begins
with the destruction of Volanus the city and the scattering (read capture &
mass scale slavery of its people). Its famed army decimated and its most famous
general thought to be dead amidst its fallen walls. The story is set after the
fall and we are given fourteen (mostly chronological) stories. It’s no spoiler
to say that Hanuvar is not dead and the tales deal with his efforts to get his
people freed.

Howard Andrew Jones is a lover of classical sword and sorcery stories
and here he applies all of its tenets to create a world and revenge story that
feels like a season of episodes that keeps us on tenterhooks. Seriously, this
would make a fantastic TV series but that’s a discussion for another time. He
considers the Chronicles Of Hanuvar
to be his magnum opus and after reading this opening volume I can heartily
agree with that assessment. Within these stories, he combines heroic fantasy escapades
with the grittiness of sword and sorcery and all throughout are displayed some
glorious characters (of both the heroic and villainous bents).

Firstly you have
to understand this is presented as The Hanuvid
the great collection of stories about Hanuvar and his magnificent deeds as
narrated by Antires Solinos and
written by Andronikos Sosilos (a
great, great, great nephew of Antires) and Hanuvar while always being the focus
of the stories, never gets a POV. This approach adds an additional mystery as
we never get a clue about his mental machinations and strategies. But through
the insight of Antires and various other characters, we get an immersive look
at a hero who’s one of the most charismatic ones to be found in the annals of
fantasy.

The author has
added some nice touches with Hanuvar
being a capable linguist and in another fascinating nod to his real life
counterpart, has a very cute encounter with an elephant (alluding to how long
an elephant’s memory can be). He’s part elderly statesman and part extremely capable
warrior and as far lead characters go a very charismatic one. Best of all the
author does a fantastic job of showing who Hanuvar is with his kindness,
authenticity & brilliant nature rather than just telling us so. The author
doesn’t just stop with Hanuvar but
gives us many other characters to root for and rail against. The best part of
the story is that this is a heroic story and in Hanuvar & the characters he meets, we find several characters
whom we can cheer for. Some don’t make it but they leave a distinct impression
with their heroic deeds (one such a character is a young female warrior who
demonstrates how her nimble mind & quiet fortitude is more than what her
patriarchal society expects her to be). Overall I loved that this was a world
wherein I could read and enjoy heroic characters. Faced with the current global
scenarios, this is exactly the type of story to take your mind off the worries.

The worldbuilding
is also another rich facet as the world is focused on a Mediterranean setting
and the author presents us with several nations and regions with their own
norms and cultures. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about each new culture and
facet in every story and one can easily draw some conclusions about where they
might have arisen from. There’s also magic present in this world and while it’s
not high fantasy kind, we get a distinct sense that there’s more to this world.
There’s monsters, magical beings and possibly gods but not everything is laid
bare in this volume.

The story is
definitely one of a different kind and perhaps this will be tricky for some
readers who would love a singular plot structure. In this collection
, think of
it as a TV season, with each episode propelling the story forward and revealing
important facets of the past (how did the city fall, what was Volani culture
like, how many times did the Derans attack, etc). The last story ends on a bit
of climatic note and made me want the next volume immediately. The story also
features a good amount of action and most of the time, it is narrowly focused (very
much a feature of the sword & sorcery subgenre). While it is no less
thrilling,
 however there are no over
battle sequences. Nevertheless there’s the promise of epic action to follow in
the later stories. Overall this opening volume has plenty to offer for fantasy
fans and
Howard Andrew Jones is successfully
utilizing all of his literary skills to provide us with a fantastic tale(s).

CONCLUSION: Lord Of A Shattered Land is an exquisite start to a new series that
is sure to enchant readers. With its mix of stalwart characterization, smooth
storytelling and an in-depth world, this opening volume is sure to draw in lots
of readers. This is the start of something special, do not miss the opening
volume of The Hanuvid & find out why this series needs to be your next read.


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