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On the Matter of the Red Hand

(Judicar's Oath #1)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  120 ratings  ·  31 reviews
All Thom wants is to drink a few rounds with his friend and play some bar games, or maybe make friends with that new serving girl- but that's not in the cards. No, Thom has a problem- a problem that may get him killed.

Or worse.

Tonight, it is raining. Thom stands in the shadows as strange visions run through his head like molten silver- visions that show dark injustices, hi
Published (first published September 10th 2012)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  120 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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The Shayne-Train
Why in the HELL did I sit on this for so long?? I picked it up a while back as a Kindle Freebie just based on the cool cover. And then it kinda sat there. It sat there knowing it would blow me away. It was patient. It waited for me.

And there finally came a day where none of my other 'e-shelved' books called to me, and I said to myself, "Self," I sez, "Why not try the one with the cool cover and the dude with his birdie?"

Hot damn am I glad I did! This book has an epic-fantasy-trilogy's worth of w
Sep 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not really having any expectations going in, I was pleasantly surprised by On the Matter of the Red Hand (Judicar's Oath). This was a gritty, intriguing fantasy that managed to establish the rough boundaries of a new fantasy world, while telling a self-contained tale within it. Clearly, there is far more to the story than is being told in this slender volume, but it certainly serves to whet the reader's appetite for more.

Thom is a fantastic character, part fantasy hero, and part pulp/noir detect
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Excellent story. The main character has all the trappings of an action hero, yet we see his human side; his sidekick is unique and fits the story well.

The world is dark, gritty, and ominous, which really lends to the atmosphere of danger throughout. There is enough unique detail to really paint a picture without becoming overbearing and tedious, which isn't always an easy balance to find with any created world.

By the end of the story, I got the impression that the true evil is only beginning t
Karen Donhue
Sep 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It's short but great fun. A hero with a suitably offbeat approach and whispers of Harry Dresden and John Taylor while occupying his own space. A truly unique 'heroine', at least in my reading, who answers back and kicks butt. Assorted side-kicks and bit players of more or less degrees of shady. And a world-build that hints at vast but, for the purposes of this tale, is remarkably cosy and contained. Add to that a villain who peeps around the edges of the story but is ...more
I received one of the funniest darn author newsletters a few days ago, the kind you get when you download a freebie offer. This one struck a nerve, and I told myself the next book I would read would be J.M. Guillen's.

I was not disappointed.

On the Matter of the Red Hand is a gritty horror mystery set in a grim fantasy world. It's well written and sharp and left me drooling for more. And, I'm very very happy to have found a new author. Can't wait to read more of his work.
Grace Troxel
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review originally appeared on my blog, Books Without Any Pictures:

Over the past few months, I’ve been raving about a series called The Paean of Sundered Dreams, which spans a multitude of genres and tells the story of a Lovecraftian apocalypse as it impacts different worlds within a shared universe. And within The Paean of Sundered Dreams there are a number of mini-series (micro-series? mini-series sounds too made-for-tv, which is the wrong vibe entir
Robert Defrank
More like three-and-a-half stars, still a highly recommended free read

An interesting mix of fantasy, dystopian fiction and detective noir that sucked me in from the first pages. The tale is set some six hundred years after then apocalyptic happenings chronicled in The Wormwood Event, and poor humanity isn’t doing too well. Holed up in the last remaining city and settlement, with wastelands beyond and the abominations that take shape and prey on the sane.

Readers are introduced to Thomas and his
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I picked up On the Matter of the Red Hand immediately (and I do mean immediately) after loving another novella by J.M. Guillen called The Herald of Autumn. I was not disappointed.

The novella, written in first person, is narrated by Thom, a detective known as a judicar. Guided by an alchemical serum that gives prophetic visions and waking nightmares, Thom must inject himself into the search for the sister of a dangerous guild master, knowing that he may not emerge alive.

The novella is as much a
Jeannie Walker
Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting mystery. The main character is a policeman who uses unusual methods to catch predators and wrongdoers. Who would think magic could be a tool to trip up a madman?
This story is like climbing a rope with a monster behind you. I liked going down the twisted trail into the out of the ordinary story with the setting of a mystical town beside the sea.
I hope you read this extraordinary journey into the dark shadows that is narrated by a detective known as a judicar. I don't think
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a longer edition of this work to beta from the author. (Facebook: Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans). It was 324 pages long in my Word Online doc.

When his raven Scoundrel comes to him with a vial of a secret serum known only to the judicar, Thom knows he and his girl have three days to solve what the strange visions from the serum have shown him. Or else the effects of the serum and what visions they show him will be only memories and no help.

Thom knows that Teredon is a strange ci
M.J. Moore
Oct 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
In a word, JEALOUS. Why? Because as a writer I would love to be able to achieve what Guillen has managed to achieve with this book: merge two seemingly incompatible genres, in this case fantasy and noir fiction, and create a story that is truly mesmerizing in its own right. Judicar Thom, along with his unique offsider, is on a mission to find a missing girl, and the twists and turns he encounters along the way had me thoroughly entranced to the very end. Guillen is a man who, thank god, understa ...more
Anne Skinner
Sep 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Super quick read, in the very best sense. The story moves quickly, never feels rushed, never lags. Smooth and utterly engrossing. The reader is given an excellent idea of the world without the point being belabored. I'm usually great at guessing the end - but this one kept me guessing. Buy it and devour it. ...more
Cherie Lee
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book combines horror, steampunk, and fantasy to create a wonderful ride! Wish it went on forever, I want to see more of Thom and his raven, Scoundrel.
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting blend of genres, and the author does a fantastic job of setting up this world and bringing it to life in this novella. I am drawn to the main character and would love to read more.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a somewhat dystopian novel set in a future that is reminiscent of the middle ages and the modern world. There are also hints that humanity has held together and developed new social structures, rules, and laws. Yes, there are moral codes and professional ethics that seem to survive the present age.

The author (Guillen) does an amazing job of world-building. His use of language, reminiscent of Portuguese) is very interesting in helping illustrate the evolved culture and society. The main
Miranda Nading
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Noir with ravens and hallucinogens

There is a dark feel that continues throughout the book that makes me think of the old noir novels complete with world weary detective and dangerous crime boss. I love that the main character isn't perfect in either vice or action. Though there is an undertone of magic in this dark world, it's understated and only amplifies the obstacles the guild investigator faces rather than being the main thread. The world Guillen created could easily be something apart from
Matt Braymiller
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very dense and meaty book. It is an amalgam of noir detective fiction and grimdark fantasy. The world it is set in is a character in its own right. It reminded me of the setting for Brent Weeks Night Angel trilogy.
The characters are well drawn and the story moves along at a good pace. Thom, the main character, follows leads and makes progress slowly, usually getting the stuffing knocked out of him in the process.
There is a lot of snarky humor in the book, which helps alleviate the he
Laura Ruetz
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is fantasy done right. An entirely new world, and it has a great feel. I did not want to put this down. We meet a Judicar, and his raven, and just by description alone, we are able to pick up on the nuances of this world and it's people. The characters are complex and well developed and the mixture of narrative, action and dialogue is well balanced. The pace is fast and the story itself is absolutely riveting. I will definitely read more in this series.

I received a free copy of this book.
Jacqueline Jackson
Another Great Story!

If you haven't read any of JM Guillen's books you need to start now. His ability to create characters and worlds is astounding! And his storylines are creative enough to keep you awake reading through the night. Please tell us more about the Judicars.
Frances Cecilio
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Different! I liked it. Thom and his good girl.💙📕
Pop Bop
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
You Talkin' To Me?

I would second everything positive that the reviewers have written about the virtues of this book. The hero, the secondary characters, the noir atmosphere, the plot, the fantasy elements. I would emphasize the quality of the writing - it's evocative and compelling and energetic when it needs to be and moody when that's what called for, but never once was I jarred by a false note of overreaching or excess.

But, you know, there are lots of urban fantasies, supernatural westerns, n
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four and a Half Stars!

This was the first book I read by JM Guillen and am SO happy I did! It kept me intrigued from start to finish. I truly thought I was going to read a book that was familiar, something I read many times before in other books, but it kept surprising me; it never went where I thought it was going to go. I really enjoyed Thom's relationship with his 'partner', Scoundrel, who happens to be a raven. There is enough of the 'supernatural' to keep me wondering, "Is it magic? Is it sc
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are new to this series/author then it might be a bit hard to get into the book due to the terminology but for those that have read a book or two of his it will not be that hard.

The book is about Thom, a Judicar, and his trained raven, Scoundrel. I loved the way the two interacted. A Judicar is a police officer basically in an apocalyptic world. He is tasked with keeping his area (warrens) safe, or at least as safe as possible. In this book he is tasked with dealing with some of the dark p
Feb 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
I wanted to love this book but I had a hard time getting into it. I wasn't sure who was talking to whom and the landscape was so slowly and painfully revealed that I didn't have a clear picture of where we were until halfway through.
After I finished the book and took a day to digest what I had read, I decided that I did like the story and I was comfortable with the world that was built. I did come away with more questions than was revealed about the mystery involved in the story.
I will continue
Matt Ward
Feb 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up, because I saw it was on sale and I absolutely loved The Herald of Autumn. I'm not sure why I didn't just get it full price, because The Herald of Autumn was one of the most inventive, poetic works of [insert genre here: modern mythology?] literature I've read in a long time.

I enjoyed the richly imagined universe of On the Matter of the Red Hand, but it didn't have the same beautiful use of language as the aforementioned book (granted, this was intentional since it was narrated
Martin Baker
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Familiar themes, unique points of reference

A fascinating blend of parallel worlds fantasy, and allegorical storytelling. It is almost impossible to judge this book without reading the sequel, which is not available yet. It needs sequential context, in order that we may analyze a.nd u.understand the judiciary.
T Jacob
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book!! Thom Havenkin is a really believable character. You find yourself rooting for Thom's success. He is a truly genuine person and a times slightly vulnerable. These characteristics make you like him all the more. I'm looking forward to the next book in this story. ...more
Brian Niemeier
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Highly creative and atmospheric fantasy-noir storytelling.
Erick Pruitt
Great introduction

Looking forward to revisiting the world of the Judicars, and their Ravens. This story was a great taste of what is still to come.
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved reading this one! it was a fantastic mystery read. look forward to reading the other books associated with this one!
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Not a lot, really. Yes, I tried to take over parts of Australia before I was 18, but then I realized no one wanted that part of Australia. I have patented 15 different alterations to the human genome, and am the copyright holder for Mind-Control Diapers. (TM) I am the first person on record to attempt to weaponize Chinchillas.

I also write. If you're up for FREE copies of my work, check out www.i

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