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Posted March 5, 2012
I’ll be honest. I bought this book out of charity. Shawn Speakman is the webmaster/great guy who helps Terry Brooks maintain his web presence. When Shawn found out he had cancer he found himself in the unenviable position of being without health insurance. This book was released, in part, to help pay for his medical treatments and perhaps as a result I wasn’t expecting much when I started reading The Dark Thorn. Into the first or second chapter I found myself shaking my head and wondering if Shawn was going to rip Brooks off and create a semi-“Word and the Void” semi-“Shannara” hybrid. But I continued to give it a chance because despite my initial suspicions that it would pale in comparison to Brooks, I found myself really starting to enjoy the lore. I found it darker than Brooks which, in my opinion, is a good thing. It’s unfair to compare Speakman to Brooks given one is a perennial best seller and one is new to publishing his own work but I have to believe he knew those comparisons would inevitably come. But what surprised me, is that I found it every bit on par with a Brooks novel. For this being a self-published novel it surpasses some of traditionally published work I’ve read. If Speakman isn’t careful Brooks is going to find himself out a webmaster and up against a brand new (friendly) competitor. But back to The Dark Thorn, this book deals with religion rather heavily, in particular, the Catholic Church. That said, as a Christian, I didn’t find any of it offensive. The main character is a knight of sorts, entrusted with protecting a portal that leads to another world in which the fairy tale creatures of our world escaped as Christianity and Catholicism grew and expanded in influence. There are other portals around the world, each with their own knight protecting it. These nights are granted a legendary weapon from King Arthur’s court. Richard, our central character, carries Lancelot’s Arondight. Another character possesses Prydwen, King Arthur’s shield. Other legendary weapons make appearances and it’s fascinating how they almost become secondary characters themselves. Or at least guest stars. I’ll keep this spoiler free, but there are so many interesting aspects to this novel that it becomes literally one of my favorites ever. And this is coming from a guy who loves the Terry Brooks, loves Stephen King, and loves Michael Connelly. When you consider that Speakman will likely be compared to his long-time friend and mentor it should be a massive compliment when I tell you, without hesitation, that Speakman doesn’t aspire to be in the same company, he IS in the same company. The fantasy genre has a new player. I can absolutely recommend The Dark Thorn and not just to fans of Terry Brooks. I can recommend The Dark Thorn to fans of fantasy in general. It’s a great book.
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Posted February 16, 2012
Shawn Speakman has combined the world we know today, with a world we wish we had known surrounding the British Iles in the time of Arthur. He has used literary expertise to write a spectacular tale of history, magic, and myth. Shawn has developed a tale so interesting that I have decided to read more on the Tuatha de Dannan and the legendary King Arthur. This is an excellent literary piece that I would recommend, right next to Terry Brooks and Anne McCaffery. Thank you Shawn, for writing something that would bring me into this world.
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Posted March 9, 2013
Having known Shawn through his website, The Signed Page, I was a little skeptical on whether I would enjoy this book or not. After all, here was a "webmaster" self publishing a book. C'mon, how good could it be? But Shawn has always been a straight arrow when dealing the signed editions of books so I figured I'd give him a chance. So how good could it be? Excellent! 5 stars good! Shawn does a great job of fleshing out characters, coloring landscapes and feeding fast paced action through the written word. Great premier Shawn, waiting for the next book, I'm buying!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 10, 2012
I'm not really sure how I came across this book originally; however I'm very happy that I did! It was a wonderful read with a well orchestrated plot and characters that have real personality. I love the mix of fairy tails he utilized, they really blended well. I cannot wait for the next story, I'm hoping for more of Richards tale.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 24, 2012
This is a well constructed tale that leads the reader into worlds many of us wish existed. I was most pleasantly surprised and thoroughly entertained I enjoyed this story as much as I enjoy a Terry Brooks novel and I highly recommend it. Shawn is a talent on the rise and I for one can’t wait for his next book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 26, 2012
I was enthralled by this book the minute I picked it up. The main character Richard drew me in with his struggle to balance his life with his job. I enjoyed the way that Shawn gave the characters life as the plot moved along at a pace that made the book hard to put down.
The mixing of our world with one of both lore and history is refreshing. His way of keeping the story moving and not being predictable with all the twists and turns is refreshing.
Those that enjoy the legend of King Arthur, the history of Britian during the time of King George, and reading about Christianity and the struggle of the Catholic Church from its founding to today will enjoy this book. Shawn did a great job at mixing all of these parts and taking them into the fantasy realm. Keeping one foot firmly planted in the here and now and one in the world of the Fey.
Shawn will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. I look forward to reading his next book. I would recommend this to any fan of fantasy.
Posted April 5, 2012
ok im a big jrr tolken fan and over the years became a big terry brooks fan thats how i found out about this book and i ve read lots of fantasy books and after reading this one i would love to see more from shawn i would say his writing is right up there behind tolkien and brooks. shawn i think has a good future in this area. i would love to see shawn and terry conbime thier worlds down the road in a book that would be very cool
thanks for the enjoy ride jeff
Posted December 13, 2011
The Dark Thorn by Shawn Speakman is an interesting blend of Arthurian legend, european history and classic fantasy. Shawn creates a unique world with engaging characters that everyone can appreciate, more especially those who have studied the legends of the british isles. His writing style is intelligent, yet accessible. I frequently read fantasy, particularly Terry Brooks, Dennis L. McKiernan, R.A. Salvatore and many others, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I look forward to the next book in the series and would recommend Speakman's work to anyone. Bravo Shawn!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 5, 2012
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