Self-published Authors Appreciation Week- The Hand of Fire by Roland O’Leary

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Welcome to the second annual Self-published Authors Appreciation Week (#SPAAW), a weeklong event celebrating self-published authors. Please feel free to join in the fun by shouting about your favorite self-published authors on your various platforms. Twitter hashtags: #SPAAW, #SuperSP, #IndiesAreAwesome.

I was fortunate to read The Hand of Fire by Roland O’Leary as a member of team Before We Go Blog during SPFBO8.

Dangerous magic. A realm under siege. Can a mother and son defeat a rising evil?
Danalar Halyas isn’t ready to grow up. Torn between boyhood desire and adult responsibility, the sixteen-year-old heir is devastated after his father goes missing in battle. And when a powerful ally suspected of treachery closes in on their lands, the untried youth worries he won’t be able to protect his territory from war.
Charymylle Halyas stands strong within a storm of chaos and grief. As the fate of her beloved husband remains unknown, she directs the clan while shaping her teenage sons into men mighty enough to lead. But with demonic forces disrupting crucial spells and an emissary arriving with an unwelcome invitation, the troubled regent is terrified she’ll lose all that she loves.
Defying his mother’s commands, Danalar sneaks out with friends to warn a nearby village… only to run into sinister threats. And with the consequences of her decisions raining fire on her people, Charymylle fears she may have led her nation to its doom.
Will the Halyas family fall to darkness, or can they beat back a formidable foe?
The Hand of Fire is the gripping first book in The Essence of Tyranny epic fantasy series. If you like complex characters, vivid imagery, and visionary world-building, then you’ll adore Roland J O’Leary’s soulful adventure.

The Hand of Fire is an ambitious book, with a complex storyline and a vast world. The very beginning of the book started with a lone rider escaping a doomed battle. Based on that, I expected a fast-moving story. Such is not the case. The Hand of Fire is a book that takes its time, getting each detail correct and crafting a well-executed story. While it does pick up toward the end, I struggled to concentrate at the beginning. I think that stemmed in part from the memories that were described. They were there to explain Lady Charymylle’s relationship with her husband, and to highlight her involvement with how things were run. However, they did interrupt the pacing a bit. The last half of the book definitely moved faster, setting up the rest of the series wonderfully.

Danalar’s father, lord of the Halyas, is either dead or taken captive, a casualty of battle. His storyline is a bit of a coming-of-age tale, as he learns to cope with this loss and become a leader. He was very a very believable character and managed to never bore or annoy me. I really enjoyed watching his character grow. My very favorite character, though, was Lady Charymylle. While dealing with her own emotions regarding the disappearance of her husband, she was also the competent and clever leader the people needed. She was never on the sidelines and was a strong character, something I very much appreciated.

The Hand of Fire reminded me a bit of the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series by Tad Williams. Willliams’ first book, The Dragonbone Chair, also has a slower pace. In fact, I would argue that the entire book is just setup for the rest of the series. Because the series is so amazing, The Dragonbone Chair is great. But it has to be taken with the rest of the series. On its own, it doesn’t feel like a full story. The Hand of Fire seemed like that to me. If the rest of the series is as well written as the first book is (and I have no reason to think it won’t be), the payoff will be huge, and the series will be a must-read for fans of sweeping fantasy.

I truly hope that I made sense with my wandering explanation there. Roland O’Leary is crafting something with massive potential that I think is going to pay off in a big way. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.

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