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A Conspiracy of Truths

(A Conspiracy of Truths #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  486 ratings  ·  147 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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4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  486 ratings  ·  147 reviews

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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
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,
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
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, new-adult, lgbtq
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
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, favorites
will update with THOUGHTS when i am not INCONSOLABLE over there being NO MORE OF THIS BOOK to put STRAIGHT INTO MY EYEBALLS
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.....
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
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.
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,
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
Felicia Davin
This is a fantasy novel about the power of storytelling--the main character, Chant, is a wandering storyteller who gets wrongfully arrested and then sets about bringing down the government of the entire country from inside his prison cell. The narration is wry and engaging, the characters are complex and real, and I loved all of the embedded tales. The worldbuilding in this book is absolutely superb.

Also, one of the embedded tales has a central plot point about historical phonology, and that won
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-owned, fantasy
How To Limbo Your Way Out Of A Witchcraft Accusation In Twelve Easy Steps*

*Social Revolution And Total Governmental Upheaval Optional, But Highly Recommended
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it
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,
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This book is such a gem!

If you like your fantasy with loads of battles and ridiculous magic, this might not be the book for you. But if you're willing to be eased into a fantasy world where the magic is not quite so bombastic, but instead is quiet and menacing, and the stories and legends of the world are rich and amazing? Go read this right now. The characters are unique; I can't remember the last book I read that's from the perspective of an old man like this one. His young apprentice is a ge
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.
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
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I picked up this book because I have recently fallen in love with a podcast co-hosted by the author (Be The Serpent). I had heard her describe bits and pieces of what the story was about, and I was intrigued. It's quite different than any other fantasy novel I've read before, in a way that only really sunk in after I had finished it. The main character is Chant (that's his name and his job), a man past middle age who wanders through many countries collecting and telling stories. When we meet Cha ...more
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
First preface, I started it in February but it wasn't the right book at the moment - this is not the book you read when you want fast-paced action. So it was lying on my night stand until I picked it up again in August, where I couldn't stop reading and only my tram stop or the judging display of my night stand clock were able to get me to put it down.
First of all, this is one of the prettiest books I own. When I read it in public I could see people turn their head to check it out, not even tryi
Abi Walton
What a wonderful book. I have wanted to read this Novel for ages and was so excited when it arrived on my doorstep. This book is beautiful! It's about the power of storytelling and how magical tales are. Our protagonist, Chant, is an old travelling storyteller who earns his way through his knowledge of people, myth and legend.
I read Rowland's "In The End" and instantly knew I was going to adore "A Conspiracy of Truths. Rowland's writing style is lyrical, fascinating and driven by characterisati
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
An incredibly original story from a very talented author. I picked up this book without knowing much about it and was pleasantly surprised. A story of spies, politics, storytelling and more. Even though I found it laboring at times, the book came to a satisfactory ending. I really enjoyed the 15 or so 'tales' within the book.
Aster Marks
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a political adventure with less real-world implications
Shelves: absolute-favs
OH MAN! This book is so freaking good. Like, edge of your seat, yelling at the main character, worrying out lout to your friends good. This book grabs you by the collar from the very first page and proceeds to drag you on an adventure through political intrigue, amazing stories, and a very sweet boy who deserves the best.

Things I Love About This Book:
- Chant. Everything about him as a narrator pushes this book forward. The whole story is being told orally, which can be distracting in some cases,
A good read! As always, I love stories about stories! That said, the claustrophobic setting and increasingly frequent references to the way things end definitely slowed the pace and lowered the stakes, which left me feeling a bit less engaged; still, very original concept and narrative style!
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
Ok. This book.

You know when you are tootling along, enjoying a book, appreciating the craft and the snarkiness when all of a sudden you realize that this book has worked it’s way inside of you to be written on your bones? It happens slowly, without noticing, and then you just have to stop for a minute and take a breath and appreciate how this book is now just a part of you.

That is A Conspiracy of Truth for me.

The stories Chant (and others!) tell are amazing. We get a feel for the whole wide wo
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
Amelia L. Kinch
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing

From the first line of the book, Chant takes your hand and guides you into a world unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It stops being a thing-you-are-reading and starts being an active experience. It feels like you get to live this book in real time alongside Chant. There’s no excruciating slow build, no dry exposition. You take one step in and it’s like you’ve come home to an old friend.

On a more literary note, A Conspiracy of Truths takes a look at classic storytelling elements and chall
May 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
I did some hardcore skimming of this book. Did not care about the characters or even how it ended. Nothing about this 400+ page book of rambling pulled me in.

The characters are so well described and realized that I can't hate the villains. I can't even be sure who the villains are. Rowland crafts an incredible vast world filled with colliding cultures and ideologies, most of which the main character only recounts or experiences from one confined location after another. It's jaw-dropping how this book pulls me along without effort despite a POV character that is confined for so much of the book.

Sometimes Chant feels like a sage, o
Lulu (the library leopard)
okay, it took me a little time to get into this, but then i really liked it!

full review on my blog!
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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

Other books in the series

A Conspiracy of Truths (2 books)
  • A Choir of Lies (A Conspiracy of Truths, #2)
“What does that mean, the way people are?” “Customs! Manners! Languages! The ten thousand gods of ten thousand nations! The tales they tell their children when they wake from nightmares, the tales they tell their sons and daughters when they send them off to war, the tales a midwife tells a laboring mother, the tales old men tell each other in the twilight of their lives.” “So you are a spy—sort of.” 1 likes
“Sometimes as a Chant you can sense the shape of the things that people are carrying around in their hearts. A Chant spends so much of their life learning about how groups of people are in one place or another that they naturally come into a familiarity with the way individual people are. And the way that Consanza was? There was something big and tangled and complicated under her surface, something to do with Arjuneh, and her grandparents, and her daughter. There are many stories that aren’t mine to tell. And, more important, there are some that aren’t even mine to hear. Consanza carried a story in her heart that I would never have a hope of reaching, or even understanding if I did reach it, not in the way it deserved to be understood. But it was there and I could see the outlines of it, like the shadow of whale below a boat. If she wanted me to talk to Inga, then I would. And I did. But I can’t tell you about what we said. That’s not a story for you to hear.” 0 likes
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