Legends describe the Maer as savage man-beasts haunting the mountains, their bodies and faces covered with hair. Creatures of unimaginable strength, cunning, and cruelty. Bedtime stories to keep children indoors at night. Soldiers’ tales to frighten new recruits.
It is said the Maer once ruled the Silver Hills, but they have long since passed into oblivion.
This is the story of their return.
Carl, Sinnie, and Finn, companions since childhood, are tasked with bringing a friend’s body home for burial. Along the way, they find there is more to the stories than they ever imagined, and the mountains hold threats even darker than the Maer. What they discover on their journey will change the way they see the world forever.
Travel down Hollow Road to find out which legends are true, and which have been twisted.
I read Hollow Road on Kindle.
This book revolves around the friendship and journey of a group of three childhood human friends, now adult, who have been commissioned to take the body of their friend, Theo, back to their home village of Brocland for burial. It is a character-driven low fantasy and the main characters have very distinct personalities and are from different backgrounds. I liked Sinni and Finn equally, but Carl was a little too serious and brooding a lot of the time.
The descriptive detail and world building in this book is very well done. I could easily envision the countryside they were traveling through and other locations such as the mine and the castle.
As with most fantasy, there is magic, but it is not a huge part of the story. It is presented as the weapon with which Finn fights and defends himself. Sinnie has her arrows, Carl his sword and Finn his magic.
Carl, back from a spell in the army and the apparent leader of the group, Finn, the trainee magic user and Sinnie, the archer and circus performer embark on the journey which will ultimately test their deep-seated belief in superstition and their prejudice when faced by the Maer. Growing up they were told the Maer were beast-men – dangerous, vicious creatures to be afraid of. Indeed their first experience with the mysterious facially hairy Maer is an ambush and so their prejudice does not initially waver.
On reaching Brocland they are told of some brutal murders which the village is blaming on the Maer without any proof. During the resulting hunt for any remaining Maer the companions are surprised to discover that this civilization they know nothing about has art, language and culture of their own. They also discover a much more sinister mutual enemy, the Barrow Lords which the Maer call the Ka-lar:
Its mouth was pulled into a wide grin, baring long teeth that glistened yellow in the moonlight. It’s face was that of a corpse, taut and dry, with every sinew showing beneath its stretched skin.
The companions agree to take the remaining Maer back safely to where they originally came from, an ancient castle on a mountain. On their journey they begin to realize that monsters do exist in their land, but that they have a lot in common with the Maer who are essentially just like them (except hairier).
When they reach the Maer castle they are put on trial for killing some of the Maer. This is a gripping scene which further underlines the fact that the Maer and the humans are very similar and that the companions have seen the error of their ways and become more tolerant. Carl is even beginning to fall in love with Ujenn, the Maer sorceress and tells her he will return to her and that they can make a life together.
I heartily recommend this book to fantasy fans and look forward to starting the sequel, The Archive shortly.
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About the Author
Dan Fitzgerald is a fantasy writer living in Washington, DC with his wife, twin boys, and two cats. When he is not writing, he might be gardening, doing yoga, cooking, or listening to French music.
He writes fantasy in part because the state of the world demands an escape, but also because fantasy provides another lens through which to view what we are living now. Part mirror, part magnifying glass, part prism.
He is fascinated by hidden and forgotten places, be they in the backyard or in the mountains of an imagined world.