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Hollow Road (The Maer Cycle #1)

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  33 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Legends describe the Maer as savage man-beasts haunting the mountains, their bodies and faces covered with hair. Creatures of unimaginable strength, cunning, and cruelty. Bedtime stories to keep children indoors at night. Soldiers’ tales to frighten new recruits.

It is said the Maer once ruled the Silver Hills, but they have long since passed into oblivion.

This is the sto
Published September 17th 2020 by Shadow Spark Publishing
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Nick Borrelli
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
HOLLOW ROAD was a really enjoyable read for me. I'm a sucker for a bit of quest fantasy and although this isn't what you would classify as standard quest fantasy, the journey that these three friends undertake and their subsequent investigation of the fabled Maer hidden in the mountains around their village, provide for some truly cool moments that remind me of some of the best quest reads that I've come across in my reading life. It's also not especially heavy-handed when it comes to magic, whi ...more
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
3.5 stars

Hollow Road is such an ominous title. If you let it linger in your mind for a bit, you could imagine all kinds of ways a story along its path might go. The optimistic reader of adventures I am, I was open to let it take me anywhere.

Opening this novel with a map of the continent of Gheil and its surrounding islands, the story tells of three friends traveling to bring the body of another deceased friend back home. Carl, the main protagonist, is the methodical planner of this journey and T
Paul English-Wolfe
A great deal of fantasy these days is epic in scope, where whole worlds are dissected in the first book and revolve around vast labyrinthine plots. While I enjoy these books, I frequently yearn for a story that is more earthly and character-driven, where I can share the adventure with well written and engaging people rather than feeling like a distant observer.

Hollow Road is such a book. A story where as you read you feel the spongy loam beneath your feet, creeping trepidly towards a haunted tom
Cassidee Lanstra
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Slow burning but full of heart! I love stories like this. Though our tale unwinds slowly, our three main characters keep us on track. There were plenty of fights to keep the battle-hungry readers satisfied while weaving the web of storytelling around us. We are submersed in lore about the Maer (which sound a bit like Bigfoot or a Werewolf when folktales are uttered throughout the novel). There is more than meets the eyes to these supposedly savage and mythic brings.

I found it funny that while o
Marian Thorpe
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Three friends on a journey together: what a classic start to a fantasy story! Two men: an apprentice mage and a soldier; one woman, a skilled archer. They’ve been hired (and well paid) to take the dead body of a friend back home for burial. Too well paid, in truth. Why?

Danger lies on the road home; danger that comes from legend and story: the Maer, a humanoid people reputed to be cruel, fierce fighters. But as Finn, Sinnie and Carl discover, the perceived danger from the Maer is mostly that: a p
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to the author for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now.

Full of excellent, deep character-growth, The Hollow Road perfectly explains the term, “the joy is in the journey.” Three childhood friends have the somber task of returning their dead friend’s body to his home. At the same time, the friends take it upon themselves to figure out the truth behind some troubling rumors. In essence, most of the book takes place during that journey,
Sue Bavey
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book revolves around the friendship and journey of a group of three childhood human friends, now adult, who have been commissioned to take the body of their friend, Theo, back to their home village of Brocland for burial. It is a character-driven low fantasy and the main characters have very distinct personalities and are from different backgrounds. I liked Sinni and Finn equally, but Carl was a little too serious and brooding a lot of the time.

The descriptive detail and world building in t
Sep 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you miss the good old classic DnD games but haven't gotten around to gather the group in a while, Hollow Road will evoke that same feeling.

A serene quest adventure that doesn't fail to call on danger when needed, it'll hit just like a beloved tabletop game.

Hollow Road takes its greater force from a tight-knit band of three, one a bodily-magic apprentice, another a soldier, and the third a skilled archer. Two of them just happen to be ace and gay, and you'll love getting to know them all.

Rowena Andrews
Mar 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Lately, I have been in the mood for those more classic quests and adventuring party stories. I blame it on the fact that D&D is slowly taking over my life (not that I am complaining), and Hollow Road definitely falls into that category although it is not defined by that alone. Firstly, I have to say – and will surprise no one by doing so – that there is a map, which always makes me happy to see, especially in a story like this that involves a journey because I like having that reference point.

Denise Ruttan
May 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This review also on

A fast-paced buddy fantasy quest adventure; multidimensional female characters; and an intriguing species called the Maer that throws the traditional high-fantasy villain on its head. These were a few of the highlights that brought me to give “Hollow Road” by Dan Fitzgerald, published by Shadow Spark, high marks.

In Book One of the Maer Cycle, we meet Carl, a soldier who lands a well-paid job to bring a body back to Brocland, Carl’s hometown, for burial. It
Dini - dinipandareads
This cover kept making me think that I had chosen to read a supernatural horror so it was a wonderful surprise to find (and eventually remember) that this was actually a fantasy with supernatural elements! I didn’t have any expectations going into this but I’m glad to say that I ended up enjoying it.

I do read a lot of YA fantasy so this was already different to my regular reads, but I liked the plot, world building and characters and was quickly pulled into the story. That said, the pace was rat
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
A soldier, a mage, and a circus archer are sent to deliver the body of their best friend for burial, but discover so-called monsters of legend along Hollow Road as they head back home. Does it sound like a joke? Well, that is exactly the fate of Carl, Finn, and Sinnie as they deliver their old friends’ Theo body back home for burial. When they encounter the Maer, creatures of legend that are said to be ruthless and bloodthirsty, they soon uncover that the Maer are more than they seem. But what d ...more
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Dan Fitzgerald has brought us a fantasy world that, before the story opens, is much like our Medieval times, plus a little magic. Humans believe they had chased out most of the other creatures, with sightings of dragons and others very rare. Yet, we quickly learn, though out of sight is out of mind, that does not mean the monsters do not exist.

Three friends are tasked with taking a friend home for burial, a seemingly simple job that leads them to battle beings thought of as monsters, yet turn ou
James Kemp
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, fantasy, fiction
Hollow Road is the start of a heroes' journey. We meet three protagonists, Carl, Sinnie and Finn. They've been tasked with returning the body of one of their peers to their hometown. Each of the three has been away following their chosen profession, soldiering for Carl, circus entertainment for Sinnie, and learning to be a mage for Finn.

They're given the task of taking Theo's body to their hometown by their friend's father, a rich man who pays them handsomely, and hints at trouble on their thre
May 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I'm following the author on Twitter and have been hearing a lot about his Maer cycle (as well as his other works!) As such, I was very much looking forward to reading this first book in the [Maer] series and I wasn't disappointed by it! Hollow Road follows the adventures of three friends embarking on a journey to escort their dead friend home for burial. The three friends, Carl (a soldier), Finn (a mage) and Sinnie (an archer) discover more than they bargained for on the road back to Brocland (i ...more
Jake is Reading
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hollow Road can be described as low fantasy, but that doesn’t mean the book lacks for pacing or action; there wasn’t a single moment that I didn’t feel engaged with the characters and the story. Nor did I want to speed my way to the end, instead naturally getting lost in the journey.

The magic system is not overly complicated, instead, feeling organic and believable, without detracting from the narrative which is ultimately about people.

Hollow Road is rather short for a fantasy book, but the leng
Jonathan Harries
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What struck me most about Hollow Road (The Maer Cycle Book 1) by Dan Fitzgerald is not the story – though it’s a terrific story in itself – but the depth and development of the three main characters, Sinnie, Carl and Finn. All three hail from, Brocland, a small village in The Realm, and each has chosen a very different profession. Sinnie works in a circus, Carl is a warrior and Finn a trainee Mage. They’re sent on a mission by a wealthy and mysterious man, Gerald Leavitt, ostensibly to return th ...more
Oct 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Hollow Road tells the story of the journey of 3 childhood friends who, after growing up and making their lives around the world, get together again to transport the body of another friend back to their homeland.
The adventures they live during their trip and stay in the village inevitably leads to the need to look for a tribe of supposed mythological beings whose stories, told to children as horror tales, make them feared and hated. What they discover turns out to be an admirable surprise and thi
Susan Hancock
May 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a mature and compelling book. Initially I was drawn into the story by Carl, Finn and Sinnie, three friends, who are imaginatively created as individually believable characters for readers to care about. I expected that they would be the focus of the entire Maer cycle. But the books offer so much more, as access to differing POVs enables readers to learn more about the Maer culture, opening up new perspectives which change apparent enemies into individuals who have the potential to become ...more
Feb 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
As the author describes his own books, "not so epic fantasy", which is a great description for a story that involves personal connections and saving-the-day for friends and family more.than saving the world. I also appreciate the use of differences in cultural viewpoints being explored. If you like fantasy on a more personal level, you'll enjoy this. If you play fantasy tabletop RPGs, this is like a well-run adventure with characters created for roleplaying rather than stats. ...more
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Fantasy author of The Maer Cycle trilogy: Hollow Road, The Archive, and The Place Below.

I write non-epic fantasy books in which you will find:

Mystery. Darkness. Wonder. Action. Romance. Otherness examined and deconstructed. Queer and straight characters living and fighting side by side. Imaginary creatures and magic with a realistic touch.

What you won’t find in my books:

Wholesale slaughter. Se

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