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A Conspiracy of Truths

(A Conspiracy of Truths #1)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  940 ratings  ·  253 reviews
In a bleak, far-northern land, a wandering storyteller is arrested on charges of witchcraft. Though Chant protests his innocence, he is condemned not only as a witch, but a spy. His only chance to save himself rests with the skills he has honed for decades – tell a good story, catch and hold their attention, or die.

But the attention he catches is that of the five elected r
Hardcover, 456 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Saga Press
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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Jessica Betts
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For me, Character is the single most essential element of creating a binge-worthy and fandom-ready story.
I will follow a well-made character into any setting.
So, when Alexandra Rowland posted an excerpt from her novel A Conspiracy of Truths and I found Chant to be a whole, flawed and clever and opinionated, character I was willing to let him take me anywhere.
And oh, boy did he ever!
The structure of ACOT is such that you’re really getting several stories for the price of one. Each of them is co
A Conspiracy of Truths is a story about people and what makes them tick. And it's a story about stories. And it's a story about stories that tell you what makes people tick. And if you love stories (I mean, you're reading this, aren't you?) Rowland's debut is one you should not miss out on.

Admittedly, the book wasn't quite what I was expecting. I went into it anticipating something similar to 1001 Nights and In the Night Garden--something whimsical and fantastical--and it took me a while to adju
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ll be honest: A Conspiracy of Truths first came on my radar because of its gorgeous cover. And because of that gorgeous cover, I waited nine months after release date to actually get it — I wanted the paperback specifically. I’m glad I waited so long, because boy is the outside gorgeous; but I’m sad I waited so long because boy is the inside even better.

A Conspiracy of Truths is about… well, lies, mostly. Or rather, truths that seem like lies and lies that seem like truths, and the man who spi
Rebecca McNutt
A Conspiracy of Truths was initially appealing to me due to its beautiful cover design. I bought a hardcover copy just over that, because I thought it would double as a nice decoration. The story inside was equally as wonderful, though. While at times a bit vulgar, it combines elements of epic fantasy, science fiction, art and contemporary comedy to create an excellent story (containing even more stories), about a man accused of something he never did, and the clever way in which he finds out of ...more
Nov 17, 2018 added it

The book didn't start becoming engrossing for me until about page 200, almost halfway through, and then I finished the rest in three days. Ugh.

I kept expecting the story to be different than what it ended up being. It has touches in its world-building that begs for the story to be an world-sweeping epic, but aside from the different stories Chant tells, the book stays in one country and its politics and quirks the entire time, and I kept waiting
Mar 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-read
3.5 stars

This is a well written and mostly well executed book. The story moves along nicely and there are a host of engaging characters. That said, it wasn't completely to my personal taste.

I'm not generally of books written with a humourous undertone; I don't mind occasional humour, but I'm not a fan of the low level continuous humour in the form of flippancy or sarcasm by the characters. I also found the generous use of f bombs just a little jarring. I'm not bothered by profanity generally, bu
Freya Marske
Oct 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I got to sink my teeth into an ARC of this one courtesy of (disclaimer) MY DEAR FRIEND ALEX, who has written a joyfully layered and frequently hilarious story about stories. And about storytellers. And about the power of narrative to alter reality, and what happens when one person wielding that power out of sheer survival instinct sets off a chain of events that takes apart a nation.

The sheer amount of imagination and attention to worldbuilding detail in this made me want to weep with jealousy,
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt, fantasy
In a huge and interesting secondary world fantasy, a wandering storyteller and his apprentice find themselves in trouble in a far northern country with corrupt courts and even more corrupt politicians. Worse, the people of Nuryevet seem to be singularly lacking in imagination and appreciation of stories, putting Chant (a title, not a name, but the only name he gives) in a difficult situation as the book starts with him in prison, on trial for witchcraft.

The closest parallel I can draw here is th
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2018
will update with THOUGHTS when i am not INCONSOLABLE over there being NO MORE OF THIS BOOK to put STRAIGHT INTO MY EYEBALLS
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq, new-adult, fantasy
I won a copy of A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland in a giveaway and for two months it sat unread while I scrambled around reading other things. Now, having finished it, I wish I had cracked open the book sooner.

A Conspiracy of Truths is told in a first person POV of an old man called Chant. Chant, from the very first page, is in trouble with the law and is relating to us - the Reader/the Listener - his story. I won’t tell you anything beyond that because discovering where Chant is and
Jennifer Mace
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, fantasy, div-gay
Take one desperate, curmudgeonly old storyteller on trial for witchcraft. Add one undermotivated and deeply unimpressed lawyer who just wants to go home to her wives and husband. Pepper with a sprinkling of paranoid, trigger-happy nominally-elected fantasy despots and stir vigorously with the aide of some, shall we say, 'creative' storytelling. Garnish with the softest, most precious apprentice to never deserve the disaster about to befall him and everyone he cares about - and now you have A Con ...more
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chant wanders from country to country, collecting stories. He lacks weapons, save his voice and the huge number of tales in his head. While travelling through Nuryevan with his apprentice Ylfling, Chant (not his name, but his title/job description) is apprehended and charged with witchcraft. This is a serious charge, and though cleared, Chant is subsequently charged with a greater offence, treason, and awaits execution. Meanwhile, the political situation and already existing corruption worsens a ...more
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Arrested on false accusations of witchcraft and spycraft, Chant finds himself lost in a corrupt and decayed bureaucratic nightmare, with the threat of death (or freezing in his cell) growing more likely with every day. But Chant is from a long time of storytellers and senses an opportunity... Ambitious and intricate, Rowland acknowledges the deeply unreliable narrator Chant but it still a fascinating and interesting story. Loved the worldbuilding (my old weakness) and the red herrings at the ver ...more
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
4 stars--I really liked it.

What incredible characterization! Chant is both stupid and genius, canny and foolish, oblivious and aware. He's fascinating in the way the best unreliable narrators are. And my god does he make a mess of everything! I adored both Ylfing and Consanza too--really, all the characters were well rounded and interesting.

And the stories! There are several stories within the framing tale--Chant is a storyteller, after all.

My only small quibble with this book is, since most of
Lauren James
An old man is trapped in prison, accused of witchcraft. An old man who has spent his life learning how to tell stories, and manipulate perceptions. An old man who will do anything to get free. An old man, who single-handedley manages to take down an entire government from a prison cell.....
Aug 08, 2019 rated it liked it
What I liked:
- The worldbuilding in general. I appreciated the uniqueness of it, and I truly felt I understood the country as if it were a real place.
- The relationship between Chant and Ylfing. I love asshat characters who try to talk their way out of trouble, and I also love it when they're paired with ray of sunshine characters. Their reunion was easily my favorite part of the book. (I also have a soft spot for fake fortune telling.)

What I disliked:
- The pace. I've enjoyed long books before,
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is not often that I come across a fantasy book that is so original, yet so well written.

I aplaud the author for the choices she made in her narrative and world-building, and in the developement of her characters. All of them, even the ones who only come up for a shorter time, are three dimensional, interesting and engaging.

The background on which Rowland built her world is well researched, and takes as a point of origin one of my favourite mythological archetypes ever - the trickster - comb
Nicholas Kotar
DNF. Not enough to keep me interested. Initially, both main characters were interesting. But there's simply not enough going on to keep me engaged.
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book. I can't get over how sharp the characterizations are. It's a long book because a lot happens, but this author conveys just incredible amounts of info in a few words.

I'm sure this has been compared to Pratchett, because it's socially conscious fantasy written in non-flowery language, with a decent amount of humor, and an unlikely hero. I liked it better than anything I've read by him.

There wasn't anything I didn't like, but I didn't always sympathize with the main character. I don't
Emma (howlsmovinglibrary)
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Conspiracy of Truths was definitely a fantasy book that doesn’t really feel like fantasy. In the opening third of the book I wasn’t entirely sure why I kept reading, because nothing seemed to be happening – but I guess that’s kind of the point. Chant, the protagonist, is a storyteller by trade, and his voice is crafted in such a way that you want to keep reading and listening to what he has to say even when you’re not quite sure where it’s going to lead.

A political intrigue fantasy that is bas
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: tfn, fantasy, sff, tough-guide
Perhaps I'm being a bit hard on this book, only giving it three stars, because after a rocky beginning it was pretty enjoyable: well-written, well-paced, with reasonably engaging characters, a narrator who turned out to be not as irritating as he at first appeared, and moderately interesting themes. It's certainly much better on a technical level (on any technical level you like) than most other speculative fiction being published right now.

Moderately interesting themes -- the power of stories,
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: galley
4.0 out of 5 stars

Based on the book cover and description alone, I was expecting this to be a deadly serious high fantasy tale. What greeted me instead was an unexpectedly delightful story featuring a wonderfully eccentric narrator named Chant.

Chant is an irascible traveling raconteur with a sharp tongue who tells stories to anyone who lends a year (and some who don’t). These stories are presented as interludes interspersed throughout the book — most come from Chant’s voice, but some are tales t
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
*A Kristobelle's Top Tenner of 2018*

Is it weird to want to hug a book? There's something about this book that reminds a lot of folk tales from in and around the motherlands (Eastern Europe), and it may have made me a little more enamoured with it than I usually would be about an inanimate object..

Not sure what to say about it honestly, as it's exactly what the description says it is.. Great characters, interesting villains, superb folk like short stories intertwined throughout.

I was a little wo
Doctor Science
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A complex and audacious first novel. The protagonist is an admitted asshole, but it's not (as I at first feared) because the author thinks assholes are especially interesting. It's because she's writing him as an unreliable (though highly-skilled) narrator, which is a REALLY hard sell. Making the protagonist off-putting is necessary to get us, the readers, enough distance to accept the unreliability.

Excellent and thought-provoking.
Mar 20, 2018 marked it as anti-library  ·  review of another edition
Damn, this sounds awesome! A storyteller as the main character, love it and that coverrrr 😍
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, books-owned
How To Limbo Your Way Out Of A Witchcraft Accusation In Twelve Easy Steps*

*Social Revolution And Total Governmental Upheaval Optional, But Highly Recommended
Steve Westenra
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's taken me a while to review this one, though I absolutely adored it and tore through it. Part of that was due to general business, but it was also because this book was so thoughtful, so deliberate, and so subtly complex, that I felt it deserved a proper consideration of its themes rather than me simply rambling about how much I loved it (retrospectively, this review is still pretty rambly).

The story, which is rather many stories within one, concerns a deceptively simple premise: an itineran
“There’s a story in anything, if you know what to look for and how to frame it. If you can find the person who needs to hear it. That is my sacred calling—collecting stories and passing them along—but it’s not just myths and tall tales. It’s people, and the way people are.”

I feel like this book wanted to do more than it was ready for. All in all there’s everything in this book in terms of potential: political intrigue, a bitter old storyteller, the recurrent theme about the power of stories, peo
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-f
3,8 stars
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc-edelweiss
This book is just a sheer delight. As I told Alex Can Read who steered me to this book, I laughed so often that it was a tonic in these dark times.

A Conspiracy of Truths is about a storyteller and his stories within his larger story, like the famed Arabian Nights or Catherynne Valente's The Orphan's Tales. We have a cantankerous old storyteller who we can call Chant (a title, not a name, and you're not getting a name because for religious reasons he won't tell you so don't bother asking, you in
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Alexandra Rowland is the author of A CONSPIRACY OF TRUTHS and, occasionally, a bespoke seamstress under the stern supervision of her feline quality control manager. She holds a degree in world literature, mythology, and folklore from Truman State University, and she is one of three hosts of the literary podcast, Be the Serpent. Find her at, on Twitter as @_alexrowland, or ...more

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A Conspiracy of Truths (2 books)
  • A Choir of Lies (A Conspiracy of Truths, #2)

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35 likes · 21 comments
“Nuryevet wasn't a real thing--it was a story that people told one another. An idea they constructed in fantasy and then in stone and mortar, in lines of ink in labyrinthine law books, in cities and roads. It was a map, if you will, drawn on a one-to-one scale and laid out over the whole landscape like so much smothering cloth. So when I say there was nothing in Nuryevet worth saving, that's what I mean: the story wasn't worth saving, and none of its monstrous whelps were either--the government, their methods, the idea that they could feed their poor to the story like cattle to a sea monster so the wealthy could eat its leavings.” 1 likes
“It's messy, lad, it's all messy." I waved my hand airily. "You just question everything that anyone tells you and assume they don't really know what they're talking about, even when they sound like they do, and you remember that everybody has a reason for telling you something in the way that they do and that most reasons are selfish.” 1 likes
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