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The Dark Thorn (Annwn Cycle #1)

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3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  439 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
Beneath the streets of Seattle, a long-forgotten war is about to be renewed...

Richard McAllister, a spiritually destitute homeless man and Knight of the Yn Saith, protects one of seven portals linking his world to that of Annwn, where the fey Tuatha de Dannan of antiquity have been relegated by a long-running religious war.

Unknown to Richard though, powerful forces are ali
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Kindle Edition, 450 pages
Published November 25th 2011 by Grim Oak Press
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(showing 1-30)
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Dusty Craine
Mar 05, 2012 Dusty Craine rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Terry Brooks, Fans of Fantasy novels
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 Shaw
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Mihir
Jul 23, 2013 Mihir rated it really liked it

Full review originally over at Fantasy Book Critic [with review by Cindy]

ANALYSIS: The Dark Thorn is Shawn Speakman’s debut vehicle. I was intrigued by it and thanks to Shawn who offered us a review copy. The blurb details an urban fantasy world with fantasy elements and makes for intriguing plotline. I was able to read an excerpt and that impressed me greatly. The whole book was another thing altogether.

The plot of The Dark Thorn is a multivariate one and focuses on many characters; the first
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seak
Dec 01, 2016 seak rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-review, audio, 2016
This book is traditional fantasy (which I still love) with a twist (not necessarily M. Night Shyamalan style). I highly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend. I keep saying I'm going to add more to these reviews and then leaving them be so I'll make no promises until that actually starts to happen.
Jake Scholl
Jun 25, 2012 Jake Scholl rated it really liked it
NOTE: Back in 2011, Terry Brook’s webmaster, Shawn Speakman, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He fought the disease and survived. The problem now is that Speakman had no Health Insurance. So instead of declaring medical bankruptcy, Shawn decided to self-publish his fantasy novel The Dark Thorn and use the proceeds from the book to pay off his debts. (To learn more, follow this link.) I didn’t buy this book out of pity. I bought it because frankly the blurb grabbed my attention.

Currently th
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Chuck Hughes
Feb 05, 2014 Chuck Hughes rated it did not like it
This book could have been so much better, the premise for the book is good and is what initially caught my attention, but I feel that the author tried to do too much with the subject and tried to include too many fantasy/historical elements. The writing is not very polished and doesn't flow very well. He tries to be very grandiose with the writing and language and it just comes off as cheap and awkward. There are also several instances in the book where the author will say something on one page ...more
Adrian (Beavisthebookhead.com) Shotbolt
Meh. Not for me. Started off well but soon became cliche ridden. I was hoping it would be a little more gritty. Instead it read like a young adult novel. Some great ideas and the plot was easy enough to follow, though there were numerous occasions where places/people were mentioned and I thought to myself " am I supposed to know who or what that is?"
Richard the knight was rather annoying, I also found and I didn't really care if Bran was captured, eaten, whatever. In the end I gave up at 30%
Robin Burrows
Aug 06, 2013 Robin Burrows rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2013
This book is about Richard, a knight who guards a portal between our world and the fey world. When trouble stirs in the other world Richard reluctantly investigates, but nothing is what it seems.

The author, Shawn Speakman, has been the web druid for Terry Brooks for years, and you can see Terry's influence at the beginning of this book. The tone, especially early-on reminded me of Terry.

Some people said they had trouble connecting with Richard's character. That wasn't the case for me, especially
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Chris
Mar 10, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it
Good book, just a little ways away from being a better maybe even a great book. It felt like if the author Shawn Speakman had been slightly less ambitious about making so many plot elements and focused a little more on the characters, especially Bran, the book would have felt more complete. Also while it was interesting to not know the boundaries of the conflict for a while, a little more back story earlier in the book would have gotten me more involved. Finally a pet peeve of mine, giving ...more
Ashley
Jul 11, 2012 Ashley rated it liked it
In all honestly, I was a little wary of this book at first, but the author's plight and the interesting premise convinced me to purchase it. I have mixed feelings. Overall, it was good. I am not sure, however, if it is something I will read again. More than likely, not. The prose wasn't as sophisticated as I had expected, the characters not as well drawn out as they could have been. The book started out strong, kind of plateaued in the middle, but finished with a satisfying conclusion.
Cindy
Jun 27, 2014 Cindy rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
I read a short story set in the world in the anthology which Shawn edited and the proceeds of which were used so Shawn could pay his medical bills (he had cancer).

I liked the world a lot; I liked the story. It was familiar enough to hook me quickly but he threw in some twists that I didn't see coming. I do hope he writes more in this world!
Joel
Jan 28, 2014 Joel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very creative romp through modern Seattle, a faerie underground, and massive battle involving tons of Celtic and Christian lore and history. Shawn is a creative and talented writer, who has crafted a quality product. I look forward to future installments in this series. The only real downside is my lack of lore knowledge, which made me feel left out quite often as the book progressed.
Jim Schmitt
Jan 03, 2014 Jim Schmitt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
Similarly to my review of unfettered, this book gets bonus points because of it's high quality publishing. Shawn must treat these books like they are his babies, because dust jacket, paper, and binding are all extremely high quality and it was sent in so much bubble wrap that it would have survived nuclear war. As a fledgling fantasy book collector, I cannot have appreciated this more. This could have been a bad book (which it most certainly was not) and I still would have appreciated it because ...more
Matt
Jan 27, 2015 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Dark Thorn by Shawn Speakman was an awesome book! The plot had a lot going on but everything worked. The characters, settings, and Speakman's story-telling ability really blew me away. One of my favorite passages in chapter 7 was: "The sweet smell of virgin nature coupled with air not of the sea intoxicated the knight, and he looked out over the day in silent thanks, the rippling water of the lake glimmering like sapphires under the sun." This is just a small example of the quality of the ...more
Kristi
Sep 15, 2013 Kristi rated it really liked it
I was introduced to Shawn Speakman and his Dark Thorn world via a book called Unfettered (see my book list). I was intrigued by the character of Richard and the idea that a parallel world existed where the magical beings of our stories and myths had gone to live apart from man.

This book really delivered. For anyone interested in or already versed in Celtic, Irish and English mythologies and history, it's really a delight to read. For those more unfamiliar some of the language and names may stack
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John Sherman
Apr 17, 2014 John Sherman rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I will preface my review by saying it only covers around the first half of the book. After six 1/2 years and 162 books as hard as I tried I just could not finish it and here is why. To all you authors out there please do not go to all the effort to create an in depth fantasy world that you fill with numerous characters, an alternate history, glorious artifacts,parallel universe, and imaginary beasts and NEVER EXPLAIN ANY OF IT! It creates a reader who doesn't give two shits about your story (I'v ...more
Leslee Jacobs
Oct 16, 2013 Leslee Jacobs rated it really liked it
I was very impressed with this book, the Dark Thorn. It is an urban fantasy but married with an epic fantasy style. The characters are developed to the point that I am hooked on them I want to know more about them and this world that Shawn has built. This book intrigues the reader, with the story lines, you think you see what is coming, but there is a twist here and there and all of a sudden the story goes in a different direction. The characters are flawed, but valiant. It will be fun and ...more
Marzie
Nov 01, 2015 Marzie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I actually have had to stop listening and will finish the book in print. The mispronunciation of Welsh words was driving me insane. And there's no way to avoid words like Annwn (closest to An-Noon in Welsh) or Llion (closest to Th-Eeyon) in this story. After spending all the time on accents, would you have thought they'd have spent a bit of time on the proper pronunciation of the Welsh?

Ann-win? Really?

Paging Mary Robinette! Help them!
Kenneth Geary
Aug 06, 2014 Kenneth Geary rated it it was amazing
Speakman is doing something right in this novel. There are no words wasted, every scene drives the plot forward and keeps the pages turning. He takes some familiar tropes and runs with them, while turning others on their heads. I look forward to another installment in this world, yet the book can be read as a standalone and leave the reader feeling satisfied.
Loren Hadley
May 10, 2014 Loren Hadley rated it really liked it
The Arthurian Legends have morphed and changed over centuries clothing the quintessential myth in costumes recognizable by the current generation. Speakman's Dark Thorn is a lively interpretation for the 21st century. It's a great read and I had a hard time putting it down. It's one of those books where you turn the last page and find yourself asking "more...?"
Jason Roe
Dec 11, 2013 Jason Roe rated it really liked it
Chances are if you read the works of Terry Brooks, then you know of Shawn Speakman. I bought this book to support him in his endeavor to pay off medical bills. Upon reading The Dark Thorn, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I found the premise to be intriguing and well thought out. If you enjoy the Urban Fantasy genre, I recommend checking this book out.
Travis of NNY
This is one of those books that I've had sitting around and finally got to...And loved it. I have no idea why I kept over looking this little gem. Just a great blend of everything. Catholicism, Paganism, the fae, Arthurian legend, Merlin the wizard and on and on. Rather unique in its style in my opinion. I greatly enjoyed it.
Dorothy
Aug 11, 2015 Dorothy rated it really liked it
Shelves: thrillers
The plot is original, very good. It is a story of a Knights Templar, Richard who wants revenge and still want to do his job which is protecting the portal of the other world and his world. It has excitement and action which will keep you interested. One or two parts I would have written differently if I was a writer, about I’m not so I will end this here.
Stacy Gallegos
May 14, 2015 Stacy Gallegos rated it it was amazing
Excellent Read

I totally enjoyed this book. The characters were were well developed and thoroughly enjoyable. The editing on this book was e excellent. I cannot wait to read more of your work.
Patrick
Oct 10, 2013 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great fast read. This is a great debut for Speakman, although it does suffer from some of the normal "first novel" complications. Fun characters, interesting ideas and big ambitions. I want to see what happens next though.
Sandhya
Feb 24, 2015 Sandhya rated it it was amazing
Took me a bit to get into this book, but once I did, I didn't want to leave. A great story, taking some familiar characters and giving them a whole new twist. I loved this book and am looking very forward to the next one!
Judy
Dec 23, 2015 Judy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: home-shelves
See my review of this fantastic read here....http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com/2015...
Stig Johansen
Aug 03, 2013 Stig Johansen rated it really liked it

My very first review.

I first found out about The Dark Thorn when nosing about on Terry Brooks homepage. Shawn Speakman being his webmaster (or web-druid as it is called over there), had written a book. Nosing about some more I found out that Speakman had survived cancer and was burried under a mountain of medical-bills. Naturaly, one would buy the book to help him get rid of the bills (in the long run), but that wasn`t the only reason why I bought this book. What I saw was a fellow who had gotte
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Mark
Mar 14, 2013 Mark rated it it was amazing
The book is intriguing and fun. I very much enjoy the concepts and story Speakman is telling. It is witty in places, dark in others and warm and gooey in some. Fast paced and exciting.

The trials and tribulations of a broken man and an untried youth. Organized religion and the fantasy of our hearts. I absolutely love how Shawn weaves threads of modern Arthurian and Catholic ideas. The dash of Urban fantasy adds to the versatile feel and success of the story overall.How The Word is interpreted by
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Rob Mason
Mar 29, 2016 Rob Mason rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I loved the short story in the Unfettered collection so I decide to get this. Sadly, it didn't live up to the promise. Basically it felt juvenile. I may have liked this when I was much younger. There were all the ingredients of a standard fantasy novel but it just fell short in many factors. Not enough explanation of the world, not enough of an interaction until characters fell in love, too many events resolved too easily...

It was also a big throwback to male dominated fantasy. The majority of
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Jes
Apr 17, 2013 Jes rated it really liked it

Maybe minor spoilers, but I'll keep it very vague. But it's important to justify my review.

I had to take a couple weeks before writing a review here. I had to take some of the emotion out of it. It's a huge compliment to say that Shawn developed characters that I really liked to read about. For me, a book is something that I like to completely immerse myself into. In order to do that I need to find a character or two that I really like. Luckily I found those characters pretty quickly. So that's
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Shawn Speakman grew up in the beautiful wilds of Washington State near a volcano and surrounded by old-growth forests filled with magic. After moving to Seattle to attend the University of Washington, he befriended New York Times best-selling fantasy author Terry Brooks and became his webmaster, leading to an enchanted life surrounded by words.

He was a manager at one of the largest Barnes & No
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More about Shawn Speakman...

Other Books in the Series

Annwn Cycle (3 books)
  • The Everwinter Wraith
  • The Splintered King

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