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We Men of Ash and Shadow

(The Vanguard Chronicles #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  278 ratings  ·  94 reviews
Amidst the gas lamp shadows former soldier-turned-mercenary John Vanguard hunts criminals at the behest of his corrupt employer, Captain Felix Sanquain. Shamed by his deserter past and seeking to make amends for his many misdeeds, a chance encounter with Tarryn Leersac – a skilled young would-be-assassin fallen from the graces of high society – leads Vanguard to become an ...more
Kindle Edition, 296 pages
Published October 1st 2020 by Independently published
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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Jan 18, 2022 rated it really liked it
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷 Support me

Read this as a guest judge (With FanFiAddict) for SPFBO 7. This reflects my personal rating and opinion and not the final score for the blog!

“We are men of ash and shadow. We endure the darkness so that others might see the dawn.”

This story follows John Vanguard, a mercenary who hunts criminals to atone for his past. We follow him as he tries to investigate the killer of two guards whose bodies are left awash on the banks o
May 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing

Every once in a while I come across a book that makes me so excited, I want to pick it up and throw it at every person who reads speculative fiction, “HERE, READ THIS.” The book doesn’t have to be perfect to achieve this level of excitement from me. What it needs to do, is show such finesse, such skill, I can instantly see the author is going to be a rock star, and I want to get in on the ground floor before things really take off. I get excited when I see
Andrews  WizardlyReads
Apr 30, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I won and audiobook copy from the author!!! First of all RJ Bayley is a fantastic narrator. I immersion read a portion of the book. I must say Bayley’s voice just brought the seedy underbelly of this world to life!!!

This book was absolutely FANTASTIC. It’s Gaslamp Dexter and it just works. Where this book shines is the ambiance it’s perfect the characters BELONG in this setting. It all fits perfectly and has a beautiful pace.

For as short as the book is it’s rich, fleshed out and a satisfying re
Kitty G Books
Nov 10, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: spfbo-2021
I read this as it’s a finalist in the SPFBO 7. I’m not a judge this year but still interested in following along so I was super excited to learn this one had an audiobook and I do think that it has a good flow and narrator :)

This is a grim dark low fantasy world which is fairly typical, but our main character is a little bit different from the norm. John Vanguard is employed by a corrupt man who runs the town. Vanguard is hired to do his dirty work, taking out anyone he’s ordered to. He’s a lik

Review now live, at Grimdark Magazine

We’ve all heard the phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” and I’d have to say this is good advice. The best artwork in the world won’t make a story engage the reader. What a great cover can do is catch the eye and stand out in an unending sea of books. We Men of Ash and Shadow did this for me, as one evening I was scrolling through social media and my attention was caught by the wonderful book cover. This got my attention enough to re
4.5/5.0 stars for this thrilling gas lamp fantasy. It had a little bit of everything- great and varying characters, intrigue, a grim and realistic world and a good storyline that really kept me engaged. My only complaint, which is a common one from the other reviews I read, is that I wanted more time with our main character, maybe get more background. Otherwise, definitely recommend this one.
I reviewed this last year when it first came out: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

But after winning a copy of the audiobook, I had to give that a shot as well. It didn't disappoint.

A great audiobook is a nice way to revisit a series book before the next volume comes out, acting as a refresher and a different perspective as we can immerse ourselves in the world again from a different angle. R.J. Bayley was excellent and carries the story nicely.

We Men of Ash and Shadow is also a finalist
Zack Argyle
Dec 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"We are men of ash and shadow. We endure the darkness so that others might see the dawn."
*** I always get a bit of a squealish giggle when I read the title of a book in the text ***

Let's first talk about the characters. What I loved most about the characters was that, despite having a collection of stereotypes (vigilante, whores, mob boss, pit fighter, etc.), each of them breaks out of their role and shows a new dynamic. I thought the people in this world were done very well, especially the smal
Lena (Sufficiently Advanced Lena)
Another year, another SPFBO finalist to read!
Video review in here

I was drawn to this one because I knew that it is dark fantasy, so I had to give it a try.

This is a low fantasy book, with little to no magic, where the important things are going to be the ambiance, the characters and the gangster feeling.

We are going to follow mainly Vanguard, he does the dirty work for Captain Felix Sanquain, killing criminals on the street. But for being a MC in a dark fantasy book, damn, Vanguard was likeabl
ash |
Jan 23, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook-22
I read 'We Men of Ash and Shadow' for the SPFBO7 contest as part of the last batch of remaining finalists (10!) My review will be part of FanFiAddict's. This reflects only my personal rating and opinion and is not the final score for FFA.

"We are men of ash and shadow. We endure the darkness so that others might see the dawn.”

7.0/10 - Overall, I liked it and I am very much looking forward to continuing with the series!

I think there is a really great story here with good bones. The beginning immed
Julia Sarene
This was weird - but in an addictive way!

The setting feels mostly like an medievalish city, but every now and then there's a little bit of modern things like guns or photographs. I kept forgetting those as most of the story was knifes and guts and politics, but the reminders never actually annoyed me, but rather made it feel yet a little bit more unique.

The main character is... Different... He has a talent to go about unseen. He's an ex soldier, and he kills for a living. He does have a consciou
Apr 05, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
“𝘞𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘮𝘦𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘢𝘴𝘩 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘥𝘰𝘸. 𝘞𝘦 𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘢𝘳𝘬𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘴𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘮𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘴𝘦𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘢𝘸𝘯."

We Men of Ash and Shadow would have been a 5-star read had it not been for one specific character choice that I just could not get behind. The book carries with it a gritty dark atmosphere you can feel and a tense undercurrent that runs throughout the story. With compact storytelling and a compelling central character, the book balances a personal story of redemption with the gore and violence of a burgeonin
S A M | The Book in Hand
As always this along with all of my other reviews can be found on my blog The Book in Hand Blog


Hey Bookish Folk and happy Tuesday!

Today I am reviewing Holly Tinsley’s debut book ‘We Men of Ash and Shadow’.

Here are a few things you can expect from We Men of Ash and Shadow:

- Serious Gangs of New York Vibes;
- An utterly fascinating world/city;
- A unique and refreshing writing style;
- Brilliant characters carved by a sinister world; and
- A great start to this series.

On to the full review…

“We are
Sep 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks, spfbo7
This was an easy book to get into, and I liked Vanguard as a character. It wasn’t hard to cheer for him, because while he does bad things, he does have morals, and he tends to stick to them. He lives in a brothel, and protects everyone who lives there when he can. Things like that. I never really warmed up to Tarryn too much, but Vanguard pretty much runs the show in this book, so that was no big deal. There were minor characters I also liked, like some of the prostitutes that live in the brothe ...more
Mar 10, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indie
Holy crap, what a cracking read. This noir fantasy hit me right in the face.

This is certainly not a terry cloth bathrobe. Really dark with plenty of violence and murder in it.
The characters are not a happy lot either, rather broken people doing dark deeds.
But the character work is absolutely brilliant, main and side characters alike.

I have only one complaint.
The perspectives of the characters are interwoven in a weird way.
Many times the PoVs switches from one character to another from one senten
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it

It is an unfortunate truth of the world that people will always want to soil beautiful things. They cannot simply let them be. It is why there will always be footprints in the freshly fallen snow. Flowers will grow from the earth and somebody will always want to pluck off the petals.

Change drifts on the wings of revolution in We Men of Ash and Shadow, HL Tinsley's gritty and captivating Dark Fantasy debut. With flavors of mystery noir, this book tells of a city firmly crushed under the boot
Sep 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
We Men of Ash and Shadow is a grimdark Gaslamp novel by H.L. Tinsley set in the shadowy underworld of D’orsee.
John Vanguard, the main character, is a grizzled veteran who hires his services out to the powers that be to remove anyone that they see as being ‘undesirable’, which mainly involves the scum of society. However, John Vanguard is not like your average assassin, he has the power to be undetectable, and this gives him an advantage in his chosen profession.

In addition to Vanguard, the ot
Dec 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Read full review over at Fantasy Book Critic

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: We Men Of Ash And Shadow is a debut that showcased Holly Tinsley writing skills. As my fellow Bloggers have so eloquently highlighted the spectacular facets of this book. I really enjoyed this dark story set in a city on the simmer. This city is a character in itself and Holly Tinsley does her best to showcase all of its goriness and the people struggling within.

In this regards, this SPFBO finalist shares a particular similarity with
Jonathan Pembroke
We Men concerns the intertwined stories of John Vanguard, a veteran with PTSD who works as an unwilling assassin, and Tarryn Leersac, a young nobleman in a failing noble house and stuck caring for a mentally disturbed mother. Each of the two men thinks they alone have a special ability: to fade from sight and attention from anyone watching. When they learn of the other, their lives take unexpected turn.

It's a grim book, with a grim setting, though the writing plays up to that. The city of D'Orse
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
Read this book entry finalist for the SPFBO7 contest as part of the last remaining ten novels for phase two to be read.

My review will be part of the judges panel when we post it on THE FANTASY HIVE in a few weeks.
Jun 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
A grimdark debut that I enjoyed quite a bit. It’s in a low magic type setting, a grim and repressed city ruled with an iron fist by a Captain Sanquain, who quelled a rebellion as he came to power. Now, there is another revolution brewing and John Vanguard may be caught in the middle.

Vanguard is a well drawn character, an older soldier who does dirty work for Sanquain. He takes out anyone his boss deena undesirable, and John gets to ease his troubled conscience by doing what he sees as necess
Jul 14, 2021 rated it liked it

Longer review to come, I think.
Kerstin Rosero
Nov 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
We Men of Ash and Shadow is a great example of gas lamp grimdark fantasy, a genre I didn't even know I liked. I really enjoyed the melody of the writing, the profound moments shrouded in sharp, action-packed sentences. There's a rhythm to the language that made it unique and fun to read. The bluntness of the prose very much matched the grit and grime of D'Orsee, a city that sleeps with a knife under its pillow.

I like how the author begins with common character portraits—like the rugged mercenary
Angela Boord
Dec 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: indie, fantasy
3.5 stars

Liked the story and the setting, and would recommend to any grimdark fan wanting a quick read. I just had trouble with the sudden POV shifts and how they often switched the reader away from the character experiencing the action. Because I wanted more of the story and the characters, I think I would have liked the book to be longer, with more relationship development. But there were some brilliant turns of phrase, and I found the gritty French-ish setting intriguing. I’m interested in
May 04, 2022 rated it really liked it
We Men of Ash and Shadow // by H. L. Tinsley

I have to be honest, it took me a little while to get into this one. I struggled to see why I should care at first and found the story a bit slow. Eventually though I saw the different threads that pulled all the characters towards each other in a way that was very intriguing. I went from being somewhat distracted while listening to stopping what I was doing and just sitting there, enthralled by the story. The characters were really well written in a w
Feb 04, 2022 rated it it was amazing
great book.....although it's not a long book it packs a big punch. I love rebellion stories and this one sets up what I am sure will be a great series. the characters are unique and the world is a dark place. I cannot wait to continue reading this series ...more
James Harwood-Jones
Apr 30, 2022 rated it really liked it
A former soldier begins training a deadly young protege. Mercenaries working in a city of corruption and lies. Through it all his haunted past may yet find redemption. Absolutely loved the dark sleazy tale. Gritty and absorbing.
Jennifer (bunnyreads)
I read this for SPFBO. My review only. More about the contest and links at the bottom.

We Men of Ash and Shadow is a Gaslight fantasy that takes place in The city of D‘orsee. The city, which is locked down tight and hugely divided by class, is run with the iron fist of one Captain Felix Sanquain and his squad of Red Badges.

The story mostly centers around John Vanguard, with whom in the employment of Sanquain, quietly takes care of any of the problems that Sanquain needs removed, and also Tarryn
Jacob Sannox
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I’ll begin by saying that HL Tinsley writes beautifully. Her descriptions and characterisation are first rate, and she pays attention to details, which bring scenes to life in unexpected ways. But she is brutal too.
The structure and style of the book is a talking point in itself, with an omniscient narrator who initially paints the city in what feels like a series of vignettes. I finished the book this morning, and I am still reflecting on it, remembering little moments and realising the symboli
David Turko
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was ok
This was a tough one for me to stop but I had to. It had everything I wanted. It was practically Sin City meets Assassin's Creed with a few dystopian themes running in it. The story is about a hardened assassin who uncovers a mystery that could unravel this gaslight city. The writing and descriptions are done very well and I could envision myself there.

However, the main flaw is that every chapter is filled with giant info dumps. There would be pages upon pages of description with little dial
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