Featured Review: Roan: The Tales Of Conor Archer

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jacnthabox
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Featured Review: Roan: The Tales Of Conor Archer

Post by jacnthabox » 12 Sep 2016, 11:16

[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Roan: The Tales Of Conor Archer" by E. R. Barr.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Roan: The Tales of Conor Archer, by debut author E.R. Barr, is classified as an Urban Fantasy. While I agree with that notion, I contend that the novel is so much more. This tale is epic in scope, destined to become a saga. Despite the story’s magnitude, however, it takes the life of a classic campfire story. Barr’s writing style is at once fast-paced, richly complex, and intensely engaging. Not to play my hand too quickly, but I thoroughly enjoyed Roan. If the author made a mistake with this novel, it can only be that he set an extremely high bar for his future writing. This book is a perfect read for Urban Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, and Dark Fantasy enthusiasts alike.

Roan, as implied by its full title, centers on Conor Archer, a Chicago teen who learns of his mysterious Celtic ancestry in the midst of a family tragedy. Whisked away to a rural village in Wisconsin, Conor begins to unravel the puzzle of his bloodline even as he learns that some of the residents of Tinker’s Grove share a common heritage and even darker secrets. Moreover, Conor soon realizes that his new home is a convergence of Christian tradition, Celtic myth, and Native American folklore. In Tinker’s Grove, legends are not only a reality, but Conor Archer is actually a part of the town's mythology! The prophecies aren’t complete, however, and if Conor can’t accept his place as a warrior of Light, then he is destined to be the harbinger of Darkness. An engrossing novel that deluges the present day with the legends of a time before time, once Roan has you in its clutches, it will refuse to let go, even long after the last page has been read.

I award Roan 4 out of 4 Stars. There’s honestly no other rating to bestow upon this novel, as E.R. Barr delivered so much more than I was expecting. Because of the genre’s ever deepening talent pool, Urban Fantasy is simply not an easy genre to break into; direct competitors include Jim Butcher, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, and Lilith Saintcrow, just to name a few. Barr, however, jumps in feet first with this novel and doesn’t look back. The world of Conor Archer is carefully crafted to include real history and incorporate cross-cultural legends and lore in a manner that allows the book to be complex and multi-faceted yet easy to follow. World-building is such a crucial element to fantasy fiction, and the failure of authors to define real rules for supernatural beings or powers often leads poor storytelling. E.R. Barr does not make this mistake; as a result, the story is allowed to grow and build upon itself in a reasonable manner.

In addition to world-building, the author performs superlatively in character development. A character is but a useless plot element if the reader feels no emotion toward it. There are no useless plot elements to be found here, though. The sordid history of the town’s outcasts, the dark ones, is painful to uncover. Conor’s passion to make his own destiny is real in all of us. The reader can’t help but feel the evil dripping from the veins of the McNabb boys and their mother, Cate. It’s impossible not to have a vested interest in the people of Tinker’s Grove as the story progresses.

Finally, the story itself is original and compelling. On the surface, Roan is a coming-of-age tale about a boy caught between making his own way and evolving into a destiny that was spoken over him thousands of years before his birth. However, it is also a tale of the battle between Good and Evil, both in flesh and spirit. Mythical heroes and legendary creatures are given a little insight as to what it means to be human. What is the ultimate Good, service or sacrifice? What is the ultimate Evil, the devil you see or the devil in your mind? Every character, from the wicked water beast Piasa to the great Roan Prince Madoc, will have to answer these questions before the final chapter is concluded.

If you like fantasy, or even if you don’t mind a little magic and mysticism in an otherwise excellent story, then Roan: The Tales of Conor Archer is for you. There’s not much negative to say about this first work from E.R. Barr. He has his own narrative style, which was sometimes off-putting as he likes to begin his sentences with verbs, but it’s easy to get used to. All in all, Roan is one of the better books I’ve read this year, and I’m highly anticipating a sequel. E.R. Barr has definitely made an impact on me as a reader. This is a book you need to read.

******
Roan: The Tales Of Conor Archer
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Post by Clifora » 16 Sep 2016, 23:05

I have to agree that urban fantasy is definitely difficult to write, but based on your review, the author pulled it off! Thank you for the great review!
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Post by jacnthabox » 17 Sep 2016, 09:16

Thank you!!! I've read good fantasy, and I've read terrible fantasy; I like to review this genre because I believe it includes the best and worst storytellers around. ER Barr is definitely one of the better new authors I've encountered.
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Post by Gravy » 17 Sep 2016, 23:41

Urban fantasy is my weakness, but I tend toward certain types. I'll have to look into this more, you make it sound so wonderful. Thank you!
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Post by kimmyschemy06 » 19 Sep 2016, 05:43

Wow! Sounds like a very interesting and enjoyable book. I like to read about 'Christian tradition, Celtic myth, and Native American folklore' in one book. Seems like the author did a lot of research and came up with a great book. I would love to know Conor Archer more :) Great job on the review. congratulations to E. R. Barr on such an obviously well written book.

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Post by jacnthabox » 19 Sep 2016, 20:20

Gravy, if it helps, Urban Fantasy is one of my least favorite subgenres, yet I enjoyed this immensely. I often use the book and author descriptions to decide if the writing style will be to my taste, since both are usually written by the author. I almost chose this book more than once, then backed away; it compelled me enough, though, that I finally pulled the trigger. I'm glad I did.

Kimmy, thanks again for the kind words. If Urban Fantasy is to your liking, I imagine you can't go wrong. There's some really good stuff here.
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Post by Serena [Poetree] » 20 Sep 2016, 08:46

I'm not always a huge fan of urban fantasy, but "Christian tradition, Celtic myth, and Native American folklore," plus excellent character development? I'm definitely intrigued! Great review!
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Post by TrishaAnn92 » 21 Sep 2016, 08:49

Wonderful, well written review! Sounds like a book worth checking out!
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Post by Shay Carter » 21 Sep 2016, 10:05

Sounds good to me, I'll put this one on my reading list :)

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Post by jacnthabox » 23 Sep 2016, 13:10

Thanks, everyone!! I'm glad I could pique your interest!!! Roan is worth checking out!!!
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Post by MarisaRose » 23 Sep 2016, 21:05

Great review! Very descriptive. I think this book sounds really fun and I'm going to add it to me "to read". Thanks for the review! :techie-reference:
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Awesome review! This book sounds so cool, and I am really looking forward to reading it!
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Post by Gravy » 09 Oct 2016, 19:23

jacnthabox wrote:Gravy, if it helps, Urban Fantasy is one of my least favorite subgenres, yet I enjoyed this immensely. I often use the book and author descriptions to decide if the writing style will be to my taste, since both are usually written by the author. I almost chose this book more than once, then backed away; it compelled me enough, though, that I finally pulled the trigger. I'm glad I did.

Kimmy, thanks again for the kind words. If Urban Fantasy is to your liking, I imagine you can't go wrong. There's some really good stuff here.
I've feel the same way.

I'm very interested, but can't seem to find a date for a second book, which tends to make me uneasy. Does it have a solid ending, or are a lot of things left hanging?
Sometimes you need to take peoples' minds off their problems if you want those problems to resolve themselves.
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Post by Drubie88 » 10 Oct 2016, 10:54

I have not read this book yet, but would like to, if I can get a free copy.

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Post by ebeth » 11 Oct 2016, 18:41

Good job on your review, however it doesn't sound like something I would read
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