On the face of it Hollow Road (The Maer Cycle Book 1) by Dan Fitzgerald sounds like a straightforward and very formulaic fantasy novel. Three characters, Sinnie, Carl, and Finn are sent off on an adventure by a wealthy benefactor, and of course each character has devoted their life to a different profession.
Sinnie works for a travelling circus and is a badass with a bow, Carl is an experienced soldier, and Finn is training as a mage.
The Hollow road opens with the three childhood friends undertaking a mission back to the village of Brocland where they all grew up, taking with them the body of another friend, the son of a wealthy man called Leavitt. Not everything is quite as it seems however and what sounds like an easy mission is anything but.
While the story of a group of friends going on an adventure with dubious motives sounds familiar, its the characters and their development that sets the Hollow Road apart and makes it a truly unique experience to behold.
Along the route of their journey the three friends evolve, becoming closer while exposing their own weaknesses and vulnerabilities, but also showcasing their strengths and courage.
When you combine these heroes with the mythical race known as the Maer you have a truly enjoyable read that keeps you hooked from start to finish.
For me the Maer are the standout aspect of the novel, they are an interesting and well thought out unknown element throughout that provides mystery and intrigue, and yet the truth about them is never quite what you thought it would be. The only downside is that they come into the story too late I found, I wanted more of them, I wanted to learn more, to know more.
Dan has done a great job with the writing here, its descriptive but with a good balance of action that keeps the plot moving along at a fast pace. What stands out for me though is his prowess with writing dialogue. While many writers write stilted or cheesy dialogue Dan has managed to create very natural sounding conversations, which is not as easy as it sounds.
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Sinnie, Carl, and Finn sound just like old friends would, they have an easy banter that really brings their decades old friendship to the forefront of the novel, their repartee is what hooks you into this story and you want nothing more than to experience their changing relationships and see what happens next.
And on that note I really cannot wait to see what Dan does next with these characters, there’s so much to see and do in this world he has created, and so many places for these characters to take us.
I highly recommend you check this book out.
You can pre-order your copy of Hollow Road for yourself from Amazon, it is released on the 17th of September.