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Gnochi Gleeman is not like other entertainers. Because of his expansive knowledge of pre-apocalyptic Earth, the stories he tells are valued well beyond the flashes of an illuminator, or the spheres of a juggler. Gnochi spent the first decade of his career telling stories while traveling between taverns, inns, and any hole-in-the-wall which would feed him.

Cleo, a young teen from across the ocean, flees from her chaperone into the woods of an unknown land. During her first months journeying through eastern Lyrinth, she discovers something life-changing about herself. With that discovery comes the knowledge that her life is in grave danger.

Despite a love for the open road and a thrill for telling new audiences about the lost age, Gnochi chooses to retire and focus on curating his family’s hidden library of first-age texts. But the fates would not grant Gnochi the boon of a peaceful retirement. Not long after settling down, he learns that his sister and niece have been kidnapped, and in order to free them, he must assassinate the land’s ruling monarch.

On the path to murder, Gnochi runs into Cleo and the unlikely duo seek safe passage to Lyrinth’s capital among the dilapidated tents of a traveling menagerie.

All the while, people across the world are beginning to prepare for the once-in-a-decade winteryear. These winteryears, one of the echoes of the first age still present in the current world, have been ravaging the Earth since it awoke from its eternal winter and recovered from its near destruction thousands of years ago. Will proper preparations be taken before the Earth is blanketed in its yearlong snow?

411 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 6, 2020

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Matthew Travagline

2 books15 followers

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Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 reviews
Profile Image for Whitney Theresa June.
69 reviews3 followers
June 6, 2020
We find ourselves in a world vastly different than the one we currently inhabit whose lost age is a slightly altered version of our current world. Through the eyes of a multitude of characters but especially through the stories of Gnochi Gleeman, and Travagline's amazing stories within a story writing, the characters and we the reader are provided with insights that have an important bearing on their present and future.

I was completely drawn into Travagline's ability to weave fact and fiction with tweaks to key past historical events allowing for the present which Gleeman and the other characters live within the pages of this book.

I felt an instant connection to the characters, whose names I loved (perhaps a literary name inspired post will come of this review) even if we only met for a moment or a chapter. (I'm looking at you Oo - I hope we would be friends enough for me to call you by your nickname.) Travagline has a brilliant way of creating characters the reader can't help but champion.

The story ebbs and flows with enough action to keep you connected as well as enough heart to leave the reader wanting more. Thank goodness it is a duology although I feel like there is enough story here to allow for even more books.

I do have to mention for those readers out there who do not like drop off endings, that book one does leave us hanging... slightly. So prepare yourself emotionally to race to your nearest bookseller for the second installment or guard your heart for the wait in between (which doesn't have to be very long as book two The Harbinger of Change should be available immediately if you are reading this June 2020).

*** Copy received from the author in exchange for an honest review ***
Profile Image for Gina  Mitchell.
865 reviews53 followers
October 12, 2020
Gleeman’s Tales by Matthew Travagline is book one of the Gleeman’s Duology. Remember this vital fact.

Mr. Travagline displays his superior skills in penning this story. He builds a post-apocalyptic world with intricate detail. Gnocchi Gleeman tells the story of how this world came to be through his many bard’s tales. You would expect to be confused by stories within stories, but it all makes exquisite sense.

Cleo endears herself to the reader by showing glimpses of the young girl while pretending to be a male apprentice. There is so much more to her story yet to be revealed.

A multitude of players round out the cast of book one. No matter how small their part, you know they are intricate to the plot.

The book was a little slow to start, but I believe that’s on me, as I was distracted. Once my attention focused on the story, I became more and more captivated. I ended up reading far into the night, as I simply could not stop turning the pages.

You find bits of dialogue popping to the forefront of your mind at the oddest times, begging for more in-depth thought. Will the author’s dystopian world come to pass if we don’t change our ways? I hope not!

Gleeman’s Tales is a fantastic story that is so in-depth it requires a second book to finish telling the tale. Readers of all ages and genres will enjoy this book. I highly recommend it to lovers of fantasy, apocalyptic fiction, and just darned good storytelling.

Profile Image for AnnaScott.
365 reviews42 followers
August 12, 2020
This was a fascinating book. I almost didn't accept the review request based on the quantity of books already on my to-read list, but the author wrote me such a nice message I had to accept it. And I wasn't disappointed.

Let's start with the genre. It's listed as urban fantasy and post-apocalyptic, and I wasn't sure what to expect. So imagine a world where our world is so old that and all of the history and cultural phenomena that we take for granted is forgotten except by a select few. Now take away everything you would typically expect from a dystopian novel (corrupt overbearing government, fancy technology, urban environments, etc.) and add in elements like a wildly different schedule for the seasons (winter is a year long thing that comes every few years), a wolf deity, and people with special abilities (known as echoes). All set in what you would probably imagine for a fantasy novel. I've never read anything close to this combination, but I liked it. The dystopian element made Gnochi's stories from the Civil War up to current times interesting, and added a level of subtle commentary to what most of us take for granted in our American History class. The fantasy element, though, kept it interesting and made me curious to keep reading.

Moving on to the characters, they were phenomenal. I loved Gnochi and Cleo and basically everyone, even the ones who were closer to being antagonists. The relationships were so genuine and caring, while still a bit playful and teasing. There wasn't anything more than the barest hint of romance, but it was refreshing to see characters just care about each other outside of the romantic context.

The only complaint I have is that I wish it had a more clearly defined story arc. Even at the half-way point I wasn't entirely clear on what the overarching goal of the story was or who the 'bad guys' really were or what Gnochi and Cleo were working towards. However, this could totally be because this a duology and I've only read the first one. Another thing I would have liked to see more of is Cleo's back story. Not much information is given about her in this book, though I'm sure her plot is filled out more in the second part.

As far as content goes, there was infrequent use of language throughout the book. To me, it came across as intentional (e.g. representing a character type accurately) rather than being flagrant or careless, so I wasn't really bothered by it overall. The only other element to point out is religion. While most of the book addresses religion more as spirituality (a wolf deity appearing rather than a structured belief system, moral code, etc.), it did have parts that alluded to the religions in the First Age (read: our time) and gave the idea that they were all equally valid. Again, in the context of the fantasy genre, it didn't bother me.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I love it when I find stories that go outside of the cliches of their genres and keep me guessing as to what is coming next, which was definitely the case here.

I received a copy of this book from the author for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

Profile Image for Courtney Lake.
124 reviews4 followers
January 5, 2021
I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway.

This is such a fun book! This is a unique amalgamation of fantasy/alternate history/post apocalyptical/intrigue/adventure that never stops.

There's a hint to mutations all throughout the first part of the book, references to "Echoers" but you don't really see much of it until the second half. But then it is revealed that the part of the world the story is set in has spent a lot of effort murdering all of them they can find.

Fans of The Witcher on Netflix will really enjoy this story.

The setting, a couple hundred years after what was apparently a major collapse of society. Close enough that people still vaguely remember what it was like, and some well maintained relics are still functioning. Most of the detailed knowledge has been lost, and there are some groups who actively try to keep it that way, believing that knowledge was what caused the downfall. I felt that the portrayal of society was wholly accurate to what I think would occur.

Our protagonist, Gnochi (which is such a fun name!) is a keeper of knowledge from before. His family had built a bunker stocked with books and knowledge before the fall. And they have kept it and added to it stories that were gathered over the years.

The supporting cast is all fun, I especially loved the two best friends from the circus and their arc. Dorothea is a intriguing character, as are the other characters from the circus and that we meet along the way.

Honestly Cleo fell a little flat for me. She comes across as spoiled, used to getting her way (for reasons we find out later) and no real understanding of others as well, people. She seems to see them as tools to get what she wants, or obstacles in her way. Even if she doesn't think of them consciously as such, I don't feel she really connects with others in the story. Even with Gnochi, she attaches to his usefulness to her, not to him as a friend or mentor. She does grow as a character throughout the book, but I still wasn't as invested in her as I was some of the others.

Profile Image for Liliyana Shadowlyn.
2,039 reviews54 followers
August 7, 2020
The Gleeman weaves a captivating tale. Gnochi isn't your typical gleeman, and this story isn't your typical post-apocalyptic tale. The world unfolded slowly but at the perfect pace for the reader to absorb each new detail and character as they arrived. I loved the "mini stories" that Gnochi tells of the previous world (one similar to our own). Full of adventure and characters that you'll love or love to hate, this book is a must-read for anyone craving a different kind of post-apocalyptic story.
Profile Image for Nicholas Adams.
Author 6 books319 followers
November 19, 2020
When everything's been forgotten, those who remember are vital.

What I liked:
The world-building is fantastic.

What I didn't like:
The first time Gnochi "told a story" I was pulled out of the book. I expected to hear the Gleeman's tales from the POV of the audience, but it was like someone literally inserted a chapter from another book which (at the time) seemed unrelated to the post-apocalyptic storyteller's world.

I gave Gleeman's Tales by Matthew Travagline for world-building and imagination.
Profile Image for Matthew.
Author 2 books15 followers
February 24, 2020
If you have any questions, feel free to use the Goodreads 'ask a question' feature, and I will respond to the best of my ability. Don't worry, I won't give anything away if it would spoil the duology's end.

You can also find me across other social platforms, including my website.

Thank you for your time, and happy reading!


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