Diane's Reviews > The Invisible Hands - Part 1: Gambit

The Invisible Hands - Part 1 by Andrew Ashling
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's review
Jun 08, 2012

it was amazing
Read from May 24 to June 07, 2012

The Invisible Chains series is one of those series that you get so wrapped up in the story and characters that you don't want it to end and you want to know what happens to everyone. Well, this is the first book of the continuing story, this time called The Invisible Hands.
All the characters from the first three books are here, as well as several new ones - Anaxantis and Ehandar are trying to move forward after the experiences they've been through, and although the Mukthars may no longer be as much of a threat, there are other regions to be concerned about, the ones mentioned most in this one are Lorsanthia, Rhonoma and the former free kingdom of Trachia.

Lorsanthia came up in the first series as the ones the High King and the older brothers were to deal with, but this time you learn more about their culture, a few of the people, and some of the actions they are responsible for, like the "annexing" of Trachia and murdering members of the royal family there. There is a belief in slavery, and some of the royals and military captured alive in Trachia were turned into servants who, as in all the cases of slavery in any culture, have little or no rights and those that "own" them believe they can treat or humilate them any way they want! There is even a character who is in Ximerion as a diplomat's aid, who meets someone he quite likes that he plans to make a servant so they can be exclusive!!!
Rhonoma sound like they who have similar customs to Lorsanthia, particularly with slavery, although possibly not as extreme, but that remains to be seen! They are considered a free state and have not been targeted by either Lorsanthia or Ximerion up to now, although I think their "neutrality" will be put to the test and give them an incredible bargaining chip as the series continues! Or make them the rope in a tug of war!

With Rhonoma, new characters are introduced, the ones that stand out the most for me are Antybion, who is supposed to be a cousin of one of the "higher" families, and Lexyntas, who has sold himself into slavery to help support his family because there are too many children for his grandfather to care for. There are scenes that suggest the last of the royal family of Trachia is on the run and decides to do something extreme to go into hiding, so, could he be Antybion or Lexyntas? Both are brought to their current situations by grandfathers, and there is reportedly an older general with the prince and why do I think he's going to cross paths with one of the Ximerion princes, of which three are primary players now - south, north and middle???
There is also the character of Yorn, whose father gets an opportunity to "elevate" himself that includes travelling to the north, Yorn and the "cousin" Antybion accompany him out of Rhonoma, so the character of Yorn could be an interesting player in all of this too!

As I've said before, Andrew's writing can make you suspend belief that this is fiction, and there are characters you have strong emotions for, such as those you love (for me, Arranulf, Obyann, Rahendo, Merw, Timishi, Anaxantis), characters that seem to have changed and you kind of like them now, or feel compassion for them (Ehandar, Rullio, even Ambrick), ones you're not sure about (Landar, Ryhunzo) as well as all these wonderful characters who really add to the scenes they are in and move the plot, such as Tomar and Lethoras.

And then there is the rest of the Ximerion royal family - Mom has ambitions, Dad is playing chess with his sons, and the eldest brother? Such a manipulative drama queen! Everything Anaxantis achieved in the north with just being himself, the occasional force of his position, not necessarily brute force, his brother used lies and manipulations to achieve the same ends - loyalty from the general populace in the area he's in!

I was asked to watch out for the character Merw, but to set that up. Rullio was sent on a mission for Anaxantis, but who also technically is working for the High King, so he walks a fine line. Ehandar wonders about his loyalty to the point of sending Gorth, his other friend, on the same mission. As it happens, Rullio finds out about Gorth being in the same area as him, but quickly determines what he is doing there and although he knows his own reputation, is still hurt by it. He meets Merw one night when Merw attempts to rob him (very unsuccessfully) and while initially I think Rullio's intent was to clean him up, feed him and send him on his way, soon the two of them are inseparable - I fell for Merw very quickly, who acts tough to cover the hurt of being "left" by his parents and having to fend for himself however he could, thinking everyone will leave him. And it's tough not to love a character who thinks the biggest extravagance is having a bath everyday! I hope that he and Rullio can find happiness because while I was not sure about Rullio in the last book, I did feel bad for him feeling betrayed by his friend when his plan was to try and balance the for no other reason than because of Ehandar and Ehandar had been there for him so many times. And I do think what he feels for Merw is real. It will be interesting how this plays out for the two characters, if they get a HEA or not!

Anaxantis still worries about how to keep protecting the area he is in, and wonders if he can just stay there rather than ever go back to his childhood castle, he's found friends and happiness in the north and it is too important to him to want to give any of it up. And it's always entertaining hearing him and Tomar argue about money!!! At one point he is alone again as his various friends are on missions, but his focus is still on what the future holds and sees all of his friends as part of it.

Ehandar has taken over some of the training, including some of the pages, a few of whom have been moved up to "squires" of his, and I'm not sure their loyalty to him is for him, or ambition they believe he should have, that will also be beneficial to them, but he is completely unaware of these workings. Even more possible plot directions!

Not much with Arranulf and Hermachidas this time, they have been sent on their own adventure, as have Timishi and Lorcko, but I hope they will all make an appearance in the next book! Although there is a hilarious scene where both Arranulf and Hermachidas get a speech from Obyann before they left!!! We'll see if his wisdom was followed - and maybe if he finally got to start working on the family he wants!

Yes, this is probably the most long winded review I've done, but a lot happens in this book! And at the end, you want to keep going, but the next book has not come out yet!

I have really been enjoying this series! All sorts of emotions, I'm rooting for some characters, disliking others and hoping they don't "win" in any way! You do think you are reading history, not fictional fantasy and if you like fantasy, I guess all I can say is I hope you read them!
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Reading Progress

60.0% "Many new characters and plots - now we see what everyone can and will do after battle!!! Very hard to put down!"
100.0% "Another amazing book, however, the full review will have to wait for the weekend - computer keeps acting up and freezing!!!"

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