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The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree

(The Outlaw King #1)

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  638 ratings  ·  126 reviews
Ross Brigham comes home from Afghanistan to discover his father Ed, a notable fantasy author, has died. When Ross begins to investigate his father's death after the nearly 200-attendee funeral, he and two loyal fans discover a key that leads them to the parallel world in his father's gunslinger novels -- and a secret war that's been raging since the beginning of time. Rebe ...more
ebook, 484 pages
Published February 21st 2013 by S. A. Hunt
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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 ·  638 ratings  ·  126 reviews

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Dan Schwent
When Ross Brigham returns from a stint in the army, his life is a shambles. His wife has left him and his father, Hugo Award-winner Ed Brigham is dead with Ross tapped to finish his last novel in his western-fantasy series, the Fire and Fiddle. But what will Ross do when he finds out his father has been murdered and the world he has been writing about for years is real?

Two disclosures before we get down to business.
1. I got this book in exchange for a review. And it's pretty damn sweet.
2. I'm ne
Jun 16, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
The Whirlwind In The Thorn Tree has been kicking around my 'to read' list for quite a while. I learned of the book, and it's author, largely on r/fantasy, where he tirelessly promoted it, and it garnered quite a few recommendations from others. I'd actually bought the ebook while it was on sale, but opted to pick up the self-produced audio edition for easier listening. In general, the book came fairly highly acclaimed from many readers, though some folks I trust weren't particularly high.

Feb 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Initial thoughts: Interesting...different...don't really know what I think at this point. Review to come...eventually...I'm behind on too many right now!!

Actual rating: 3.75 stars. No spoilers!!


Why the funky rating? Well, I don't feel about it how I would a 4 star read, but it was better than a 3.5 star rating. I'm a wee bit torn on this rating, that's for sure!

I loved the concept of this story! Ross comes home from deployment. His welcome home isn't what any American hero should encount
Jeff Beesler
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
We’re immersed in a time where the boundaries between genres have grown blurred. Often these days, there’s not just straight on science fiction, horror, mystery, western, fantasy, etc. Many times, a mesh of genres is painted on the literary canvas, giving us the kinds of stories that are not easily classified. For me, it opens up a whole wide range of new categories. One size does not fit all anymore, at least when it comes to books.

S. A. Hunt’s The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree embraces such mesh
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A truly enjoyable experience!
While I've never read much pure fantasy, I consider Whirlwind sort of a hybrid.
It's a lot easier to say "... It was a hard book to put down...." than it was to actually do so with Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree.
I literally had to force myself to stop reading, just to get more pressing things done around the house.
The characters are interesting and loads of fun to watch how Mr. Hunt brings them and their world to life. And by the end of the book, the main characters almo
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dt
There's some books that completely sweep you away from the real world and this was one of them. I actually downloaded this book after hearing about it on a group here somewhere. The title was what caught my eye mostly...sounds so romantic ( and the song..)...anyway, it languished in my Kindle until a few weeks ago I decided to pick it up again.
I wrote somewhere else that Whirlwind will forever remind me of barbequing with Dad, because those memories are priceless. I'd sit there flipping the mea
Aug 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, indie
Let's start with the disclaimers. I know the author on Google+, which is why I read the book. I'd picked it up on a free promotion, and when I realised I didn't have the up-to-date version, he kindly sent me his latest build. We've corresponded about some questions I had (which he cleared up, so they won't appear in this review), and I'll be sending him some more notes too. Based on his response to me so far, many of the issues I identify may well be fixed soon, so there may be things I mention ...more
Ah, S.A. Hunt you magnificent bastard. This has gone straight to the favourites shelf - I had tried it once before and got side-tracked with my Wheel of Time reading. I decided to give it another shot and boy, am I glad I did.

What we have here is the amalgamation of weird western/portal/cosmic horror/gunslinger steampunk/high epic fantasy and although you might wonder how all that fits together, it works. Deft characterisation; fecundity of imagination; emotionally charged major scenes; craaaaaa
Mar 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
The author recently announced that this book would be available for free for a limited time. I decided to check it out because of this. I must say, I am glad that I did. While the book starts off a little stilted and awkward in its delivery, you can see the grandness of the underlying story. As the book moves along, it becomes clear that the author is getting more comfortable with himself and with his characters. By the time I was halfway through the book, I knew that I was locked in for the res ...more
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you tell me you haven’t read The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree by S.A. Hunt yet, I will tell you to shut your whore mouth. In fact, I might just tell you to shut your pirate whore mouth because I feel that emphatically about it.

Malus Domestica was my introduction to Hunts work. It is, hands down, one of my favorite books of the last year. I had high hopes for the first installment of The Outlaw King series. Those hopes were obliterated. Obliterated in the best possible way.

While the novel The W
Benjamin Spurlock
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, steampunk
((Full disclosure: I've spoken a bit with the author, though I didn't get this book from him.))

The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree is a... bit of a difficult book to review, I'll be honest. In basic terms, this is a 'magic portal' story. People from the real world go to another, fantastical world, there to have adventures and the like. In this one, three people from our world find the 'real' world that the main character's father's steampunk novels are based on, and yes, they have adventures there.
Eric Bahle
May 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Disclosure: I have an internet acquaintance with this author and he did the cover art for one of my books.

The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree is inspired by The Dark Tower series from Stephen King. That inspiration is obvious, but this isn't fan fiction set in King's Mid-World. Hunt tells his own story and creates his own universe. He takes the notion of gunslingers and pushes it toward High Fantasy set in a parallel world that touches our own (and perhaps others.)

We meet Ross on what appears to be
Ashe Armstrong
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Weird western fans, fantasy fans, Dark Tower fans
Shelves: weird-west
The first thing you need to know is that this book is better than you think it'll be. The second thing you need to know is that things get meta-fictional quick. And it's awesome. Hunt creates such a vivid, beautiful landscape that you cannot HELP but get sucked in. And it's filled with everything you could want. Sci-fi? Fantasy? Gunslingers? Sea monsters? New cultures and races? You'll find it and you'll love it.

Ross is an easy narrator to follow and you really cheer for him. There are definite
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this one through when it was listed for free. The story description sounded interesting enough, especially considering the price. I felt just a bit let-down however. The idea of the parallel universe travel has been done several times over, and the author does doe a fine job of it, but I just felt like I was reading a copy of Stephen King's 'Dark Tower' series. In this alternate world there are 'gunslingers' with a special skill in being able to shoot. There's a 'dark man' tha ...more
Franck Rabeson
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
A few editing errors in the last chapter and a few parts that confused me a bit in the middle, but all in all it was a nice read that left me asking for more (you know, that feeling when you reach the book’s end and let out an anguished “NOOOO!” because you realize you’ll have to wait for the next book to know the next part). And I say that as someone who doesn’t even usually like the genre.
May 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh My! What a Surreal, Mysterious, Epic Tale

I don't know how I missed S.A. Hunt until now. It seems virtually impossible that he isn't a household name on bestseller lists. The Whirlwind and the Thorn Tree could stand up or surpass anything written by Goodkind, Brooks, Moorcock, Weeks, Jordan, both Herberts and all the others that write big, published epic fantasy series.
What is so incredible about this novel is that S. A. Hunt has created something original out of existing tropes and morphed
Chris Williams
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review will be necessarily brief, but I want to touch on just a few things.

I expected, once I found out early on that the book was about a writer, to be a bit annoyed at cliche and overuse. Much like theatre about theatre, and indie movies about making indie movies, authors using writers as their main characters sometimes works, but often becomes an exercise in wish fulfillment. Absolutely not the case here. Hunt's protagonist is likable, flawed, lost, but possessed of a reserve of inner st
Jose Caldwell
Jan 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Let's get one thing straight - SA. Hunt is a VERY talented writer. Compared to the vast majority of self-published authors, this guy is in another category. While reading this book it didn't take long for me to realize he has the tools with which to tackle any writing endeavor. It may sound obvious, but in this case it's worth pointing out anyhow; this book's greatest strength is the writing itself. Now, you might think I'm exaggerating, but this is the honest truth. His overall skill, especiall ...more
Laura Agnella
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you are a lover of fantasy books such as the Dark Tower series by Stephen King or The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, where other worlds are discovered and mysteries are abundant, than this is a book you will easily fall into, entering the fantasy with the characters and joining them on their adventure.
This book even mentions authors King and Lewis and comments on their stories, sometimes with a humorous edge. The main character, Ross, is given the overwhelming job of finishing his father'
Mar 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Picked this book up on an Amazon deal not knowing anything about it other than I liked the name, and the cover art was cool. The book starts on a few slow sad notes, watching a man's life unravel. Ross returns home from active duty to find his father has suddenly died. His father had never been close, so Ross goes about doing his family duty without much emotion. His father had been the author of a very popular Fantasy series, and had died suddenly before completing it, leaving behind legions of ...more
Cordell Falk
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I made this purchase with a touch of fear as the first Dark Tower novel is one of the only books I could never struggle through.

Author Hunt has built a varied and deep universe with a vocabulary that puts most other writers to shame. The first person narrative is flowing with modern pop culture references that seemed too casual at first, but (after finishing both Volumes one and two) may hold an actual purpose or underlying meaning later. Similes and metaphors lurk behind every other page or so
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is another truly excellent fantasy novel, albeit in an unconventional direction than the usual. Gunslingers, invisible muses, elements of a post-apocalyptic world, yeah I'm really looking forward to the next book in the series. The author was clearly a fan of some of the greats, there are elements of Stephen King, Tolkien, L'Amour, Gaiman, and some very dry wit here, though mixed up and forged into something completely new. Definitely worth the time to read though I warn you, you'll be anno ...more
Chantelle Griffin
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy
Initially I was not sure what to expect however the wonderful imagination of the author pulled me in with such delight that I finished the book in just over a day. The personalities of the characters kept me glued to the page and I cannot wait to read the second book in the series.
The story moves from the real world into the fantasy realm with a hint Narnia, only this time the characters are grown up and the consequences are harder to face. I was hooked from beginning to end.
Ryan Toxopeus
I enjoyed the characters and a lot of the unique ideas. I didn’t like the slow pacing, and this story hit a few of my major pet peeves (timing that doesn’t make sense, and no ending being the big ones).
Doreen Dalesandro
Kindle freebie, 2/26/13
Scott Wieczorek
Apr 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have posted a review of this book on my Blog. Check it out.
Karen Robinson
Mar 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very good book! I read the second installment also. Just waiting for the final installment to be released!
Dava Stewart
May 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I quite liked the first book in this series, and must say, this one is better. The writing is tighter, and we get to learn a little more about the characters.

Looking forward to the third one.
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here's my review from Amazon.

My only problem with this book is my own personal quirk, and not necessarily a mark against the story. I hate not knowing, and this story plunks you right down into the middle of a fantasy epic. I suppose the nice thing is that the protagonist is as unknowing as the reader, which makes any exposition simply part of catching the protagonist up to speed. It's exciting to learn about the new world alongside the protagonist, but part of me was constantly scared we would
Geoff Lichy
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read The Dark Tower (yes, I know) so I can't say how The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree compares. But I thought this was a decent fantasy story overall. More Narnia vibes than expected (although darker, more along the lines of The Magicians) without disappointments.

I picked this up after reading S.A. Hunt's Malus Domestica (which is equally interesting). In some ways, I think Whirlwind is better, but I'm not going to do a comparison here. Suffice to say I like how Hunt does things.

My p
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Samara Abigail Hunt is the Georgia-born author of the Amazon Top 10 Horror Malus Domestica series, and the Outlaw King fantasy series, winner of's /r/Fantasy "Independent Novel of the Year" 2014 Stabby Award. She is also a "Mentor of Poetry, Prose, & Performance" with the National Creative Society.

​In 2005 she joined the Army and after an ill-advised stint in the military police (ACAB),

Other books in the series

The Outlaw King (3 books)
  • Law of the Wolf (The Outlaw King, #2)
  • Ten Thousand Devils (The Outlaw King #3)

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