A Quiet Vengeance (Samarak Tales #1), by Tim Hardie - A Review by Esmay Rosalyne
Nimsah is an abandoned child living on the streets of Bengarath, surviving on her wits as part of a criminal gang in the City of Tents, home to the dispossessed. Dojan is the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Fujareen, enjoying a life of luxury in Bengarath Palace. Their lives are brought together as the threat of war looms in the neighbouring city state of Kandarah. However, Dojan and Nimsah share a secret, one that will set in motion a chain of events leading to vengeance.
My Review (5 out of 5 )
Ever since I caught up with Hardie’s excellent The Brotherhood of the Eagle series, I have been hungering for more of his writing. So imagine my excitement when I learned of this new project, which takes place in the same fantasy world as his other series, but explores a completely different continent in the world of Amuran. In A Quiet Vengeance, you will find immersive Middle-Eastern/North-African inspired world building, cutthroat political intrigue, intricate webs of conspiracy, morally gray characters with incredibly complex relationships, and of course, bittersweet vengeance.
This slow-burn and character-focused story is told in a dual POV narration, following Crown-Prince Dojan in the present and street-urchin Nimsah 17 to 13 years in the past. At first, you might wonder how the lives of these two people could ever end up intertwining, especially given that they come from such opposing backgrounds and have such different personalities. But then, we learn about how a single traumatic event in their childhoods has inextricably tied their fates together and get to see how seemingly innocent and insignificant actions can have serious and dire consequences, sometimes even years down the line.
I was completely invested in these characters’ lives from the very moment I met them. In my opinion, the dual timeline was executed to perfection here, allowing us to really get to know these characters intimately by following them both as children and as adults. It was so fascinating to see how their actions and experiences in their childhood have shaped them into the people they have become in the present timeline.
Nimsah was easily my favourite character, but that’s no big surprise given that I am always a sucker for a good street-rat type of character. She is a tough, resourceful and smart young girl with a heart of gold, but we quickly learn that she is also not afraid to be ruthless in order to survive in the brutal criminal underbelly of Bengarath’s City of Tents. And while you will quickly find yourself rooting for young Nimsah when reading from her POV, you can’t help but feel suspicious and wary of her older self when she shows up again in the present timeline. Just like Dojan, you will be left wondering if she is still the same loveable girl from the past or if she has gone down a much darker path since we last saw her.
Dojan himself is also an extremely fascinating character to follow. When we first meet him, he is just as spoiled, privileged and ignorant as you might expect from his status as the crown-prince. But when he is sent off on an important diplomatic mission, he is faced with the hard truth that he is completely and utterly out of his depth. I honestly found it quite amusing and endearing to see him stumbling around in the dark, desperately trying to survive a web of brutal politics and deadly conspiracies. His character development and personal growth over the course of the story is absolutely astounding though. In the end, he surprises everyone (and maybe most of all himself) with just how savvy and competent he turns out to be.
Now, I often find myself getting lost in
slow-burn, complex, and somewhat tedious political machinations, but here I was
glued to the page by all the mystery and intrigue. I think it worked so well
for me because of the astounding character work and intimate, emotionally-driven
storytelling. It’s not only the protagonists who are crafted with incredible
depth and complexity, but the entire supporting cast of characters just jumps
off the page as well. Everyone has their own hidden agenda and you never know
who to fully trust, which raises the tension and stakes to unimaginable
heights. Honestly, Hardie is up there with GRRM in terms of character work and
political intrigue, it’s SO compelling.
I was so impressed with how this story examines the brutality of politics and explores the lengths people are willing to go to obtain and secure positions of power. These two storylines are brimming with tension and political intrigue, both on a small and personal scale in Nimsah's case and on a much larger, geopolitical scale with Dojan. And when long-kept secrets come to light and conspiracies start to unravel, I can guarantee you that your jaw will be on the floor. What a riveting ride!
The world building is also absolutely entrancing
and I loved how Hardie was able to completely transport me into this dazzling
world with his vivid and evocative descriptions. We get to encounter a plethora
of interesting and rich cultures, each with their own customs, histories,
social structures and belief systems. This world feels so tangible and lived-in,
which made for an incredibly immersive reading experience.
It was also really interesting to see how the Sight magic, which you will be familiar with if you have read The Brotherhood of the Eagle series, was implemented in exciting new ways in this story. I love this soft magic system, because it creates such an air of intrigue and wonder every time it is on display.
Safe to say, I am a big fan of this newest novel by one of my new favourite authors. I went in completely blind and was blown away by the captivating tale that unfolded before my eyes, THIS is how you write an exciting political fantasy! A Quiet Vengeance is a relatively short read and works perfectly as a standalone, so you can jump in here and get a taste of Hardie’s masterful storytelling if you haven’t already. I can’t recommend this one highly enough, it’s already one of my favourite books of the year. Go pre-order!
Thank you to the author for providing me with
an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
About the reviewer
Hi! I’m Esmay, a 20-year-old bookworm from the Netherlands. My main hobbies are reading books, talking about books, reviewing books, and watching videos of people talking about books. Fantasy is my favourite genre, but I will honestly read anything if the premise intrigues me. Also, over the past year, I’ve become a huge (SFF) indie/self-pub enthusiast and it’s been a wonderful experience to discover all the hidden gems. I’m forever exploring stranger worlds.
I grew up in the seaside town of Southport in the north west of England during the 1970s and 1980s. This was before anyone had even heard of the internet and Dungeons & Dragons was cutting edge. Living in a house where every available wall was given over to bookshelves, I discovered fantasy writers like JRR Tolkien, Michael Moorcock, Ursula Le Guin, Alan Garner, Stephen Donaldson and Susan Cooper. Those stories led me into the science fiction worlds created by Frank Herbert, Philip K Dick, Arthur C Clarke and HP Lovecraft.
After training to become a lawyer I lived in London for three years before moving to Yorkshire in 1999, where I’ve worked ever since in a variety of legal, commercial, financial and management roles. My writing began as a hobby in my early twenties and has gradually grown into my second career. I write epic fantasy that will appeal to fans of Joe Abercrombie, John Gwynne and Robin Hobb.
I currently live in Derbyshire with my patient wife and two teenage children.