In the tropical-island region known as the Frees, magic is growing stronger, and gunpowder is becoming less reliable. Amid this world of "swashbuckling, intrigue and a dash of magic," two adventurers literally run into each other and are forced to fight together against pirates, sinister assassins and powerful merchant families, in the process developing a most unlikely friendship.
Tesca is the Left Hand, a spy and assassin serving the Duke of Kohaya, ruler of one of the independent realms within the Frees. Kayrla is a sailor and sometime pirate with a few magical tricks up her sleeve. In the city of Kohayne, she jumps ship to escape the advances of her lecherous captain Jolly Red, taking a bit of his gold for good measure. While fleeing Jolly's wrath, Kayrla collides with Tesca, who's on a mission of his own, and when Jolly comes upon the pair, he assumes them to be partners and sics his crew on both of them. Their subsequent fight and flight through the dark, twisted alleys and steep rooftops of Kohayne forges a fast friendship between the pair. When Tesca offers her sanctuary under the protection of his master, Kayrla accepts, having nowhere else to go. The pair quickly come to realize that they make a very effective team, but will their combined talents be enough to stop an assassin who's come to Kohayne seeking the Duke's life, and who appears to be more than a match for either Tesca's blades or Kayrla's magic?
John is a graphic designer and voice-over artist, who started writing Tales of the Left Hand as a side project to give himself practice narrating longer pieces of work, such as audiobooks. The demo he put together using excerpts from Book One has led to a number of professional narration jobs, now available on Audible. But he also discovered that Left Hand had taken on a life of its own, and there were more stories in the Frees to tell than could be covered in just one book.
He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife (and is about to add fatherhood to his job description in early December) and two cats, satisfying the minimum required feline ownership for fantasy writers.
As an audiobook available for free from Podiobooks.com, I wasn't really sure what to expect quality-wise, but this was an amazing book! Author and narrator John Meagher is an amazing voice actor and this audiobook definitely demonstrates his talents with many characters with different dialects, accents, etc. Beyond the excellent narration, Tales of the Left Hand Book One is also a fun and intriguing adventure fantasy story. It has witty, intelligent, like-able characters, and does a brilliant job transitioning from the world-building and character introductions to plot intrigues and action. I am looking forward to the next books in the series!
I don't always want an action-packed adventure, but when I do, I want a good one. This is a good one.
There are pirates. There's court intrigue. Secret passages, magic, assassins, rooftop chases, sword fights, it's all here.
I listened to the author's excellent reading via Podiobooks.com (and tipped him there, because it's worth some money), so I can't comment on the editing of the ebook version. I did spot a few very slightly misused words in the audio version.
My only other criticism is that the main character seems a bit innocent and nice for someone who's been sailing round with pirates for ten years, and the assassin/swordfighter likewise. They're delightful characters, though, and I forgive it.
I've started listening to the second book, and I'm glad to hear that a third and fourth are on the way.
I have decided that I don't need to listen to the news on my drive to and from work. Too sad. So I started listening to TOTLH.
I found myself taking an extra trip around the block, sitting in the driveway, or hoping for traffic to listen to just a little bit more. What a fun series! One I can listen to with my 10yo son, and have us both engrossed. Definitely excited now that book three is started, but the wait for each weeks chapter to come out is painful!
A nice, original-feeling fantasy adventure. The audiobook is well-narrated by the book's author, with good production values. The author has built a nicely complex fantasy world, with intriguing characters and interesting problems. I'll be checking out the second book in the series.
Outstanding! Castle intrigue in a tropical pirate culture, The Kohaya Quad and The Frees are a wonderful playground; Kohayne is the best city to avoid since Ankh-Morpork. Mr. Meagher's reading is a treat too, it doesn't take long to forget you're listening to one person.
This was... disappointing. It's hard to be all that mad at a free audiobook, but here we are. It was very clear to me that this was John Meagher's first book as I was listening. There's a very "rookie" quality to the prose that's sometimes very hard to ignore. Most of my issues with this come in spots where the narration focuses in on thoughts, feelings, and dialogue. I felt like there was more telling than showing, that all of the characters were more inclined to speak honestly aloud with each other than real people are for the sake of moving the plot along, and that character motivations were often arbitrary. I also felt that this did not feel like the first book in a series, but the first act in one book (granted, in need of editing to cut it down). Not enough happens for this to have been a real arcing story, though it could have been a solid introduction to a single story if it had been edited that way. It ended up being a lot of smaller, technical aspects of the story that I felt resulted from inexperience that ended up grating on me and taking away from a solid plot and potentially interesting characters.
That being said, it was also hard to ignore some pretty racist threads in the story. In a poorly done show/tell scenario, we are told that the Empire is nuanced and sophisticated, and I'll admit that the Argument and the Retort is a wonderful idea and detail, but they also fall into a dark skinned aggressor trope with their focus on war and that duel with Tesca is particularly...yucky. Tesca becomes a bit of an Iron Fist character with all the problematic baggage that comes with that. Plus, if your book says "those black bastards" over and over again (and this one does), there's probably something racist at its heart.
All this being said, there's a chance I'll still be going back for the second book in this series. There's precious little tropical fantasy out there, and even fewer with audiobooks (much less free audiobooks). I'll do it grudgingly, but I might still do it.
It started off bland and the left hands character seemed to shift but it remained entertaining and fun. I greatly enjoyed it and for anyone this would turn away. Please listen or read it. By the second book these problems are no more. By the end of the second book I did something I hadn't done since I was in 7th grade. I teared up and even shouted in triumph at one point celebrating the characters victory. Shocked me. Lol I sat there alone in my car cheeks in the middle of the night cheeks feeling very warm as I looking around at the empty streets being so grateful no one was there to hear. So please read our listen to these books. They are very much worth your time.
A great novel! Intriguing world, great plot twists and believable characters. I loved everything about the book, especially the author's voice talents! The only criticism is at times the pace gets more detailed (I won't say slow) and I am waiting momentarily for the excitement to ramp up again - I guess I'm a fan of ending chapters on a high note or cliffhanger. I've read book 1 and 2. GREAT FUN!
I listened to the audio book that the author himself had read. He's got a good voice and I'm very persnickety about that. There are so few readers I can stand to listen to.
It's a light hearted romp with magic and pirates and some greater conspiracy that I have not yet gotten to (having only made it through book one). I like the world building and some of the cultural complexity at work (the Argument and Retort being my favorite small detail). There was a bit too much exposition sometimes, but as I enjoy extensive fake-world-history I was kinda all about it. I'm hoping to get time soon to kick off Book #2.
I really liked this book. The writing wasn't as strong as I would like but it was still good and the narration is was great. The world that Meagher created certainly kept me interested and I can't wait to start the next one.
For a hobby project that started out so the author could send samples of his voice acting to audiobook producers, well, let's just say John Meagher put the cart before the horse. And then somehow got that cart up to 60mph, with the horse holding on for dear life.
Not only is the storytelling top notch, but Meagher is one of the most talented narrators I've ever heard, voicing dozens of characters without ever leaving you uncertain who is speaking. I'm always excited when I hear him narrating one of my favorite fiction podcasts, but not as excited as when I hear a new chapter of TotLH is coming out. I can't wait to find out what happens next!
Great, lighthearted but very creative fantasy set in a world of minor states caught in a background of global intrigue. Interesting characters with mysterious backstories, mad fundamentalist religions, vicious pirates and magic slowly seeping back into the world. Very highly recommended either as a read or as the audio version as read by the author.
This book was awesome in more ways than 1. Loved the writing and the historical view point. Loved the characters (most of them) and the traveling! Found on podiobooks.com. Read all in quick succession and am eargerly awaiting any more :)