The Archer’s Heart by Astrid Amara.

archers1Reading The Archers Heart was truly a pleasure. This beautiful fantasy novel draws on elements from the Mahābhārata and is set in a land, not dissimilar to India, called Marhavad. It is a tale of caste, magic, betrayal, adventure, war and love. I spent a week sloping off to bed early just so I could read more!

I think the first thing that appealed was the setting. The Indian influence that saturated Marhavad was delightful and with most of what I’ve read in fantasy set in more European influenced worlds, an enjoyable change. It made me remember reading The Far Pavilions (incredible, beautiful story) and sneaking out to watch The Jewel in the Crown when I was younger. I cannot express how nice it is to read about somewhere a little different and loose some of the Anglo-European centric feel that many fantasy novels have. No LOTR template here and no singing hobbits either! 

The world building was tight with magical elements blending seamlessly within the historical feel of the novel. It was also well paced with nothing glossed over or rushed despite the book covering a period of several years. There were the odd bits that lagged, but for the most part I was kept well entertained. 

I liked the character of Keshan Adaru, who is a man with change at the forefront of everything he does. He is determined to see a society where all men and women are treated equally and the caste system removed. He is charismatic and beautiful. The romance that blossoms between him and Prince Jandu Paran kept me up way past my bedtime. I think, of the two characters, the depth and growth of Jandu was what really captured my interest. He begins the story a brash young boy and grows into a man worthy of his title. And yeah, all serious waffle aside it was kinda hot. heh.

The inclusion of Tarek Amia, whose story runs along side that of Keshan and Jandu, was very poignant at times. I enjoyed his stoic, soldier like nature and unrequited love for his Prince. Such an honorable man, I wanted someone to ruffle his hair occasionally. 

If I have any whinges it’s that I did find Jandu’s curse a little odd in the scheme of things. While it did move the story along it was a little different and unexpected. I also felt a bit uncomfortable at the unsympathetic portrayal of Keshan’s wife and wondered if this could have been handled a little differently.

I think the most charming thing about this book is its uniqueness. I don’t think I’ve really read anything quite like it before and this was probably its most appealing quality. Beautifully presented and a distinctively different read that is well worth reading. Liked it lots!

Paperback from Blind Eye Books and from Amazon.

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10 thoughts on “The Archer’s Heart by Astrid Amara.

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  1. I really want to read this. I just wish it were in ebook format. But I totally love your review and will get around to reading it at some point. I loved Intimate Traitors and it seems like this one also has that different, exotic kind of feel to it.

  2. I really enjoyed it. Can you tell??? hehe. It is a tome of a book Leah, would probably be a squillion pages in ebook. Kinda weird to be reading an actual paperback, but nice.

  3. Hi Sarah,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to review this one. We at Blind Eye Books really appreciate it!

    You know, a couple of reviewers have talked about the Keshan’s wife and about the Jandu’s curse. I don’t know if you know much about the grueling editorial process here at BEB, but if you don’t let me say that the author and I literally discussed every page and every aspect of this book, so I thought you might be interested to hear how we arrived at the book that we did. (You can still not be all about those two aspects of the story, but since you wondered aloud about them, and I have some authority on the subject of the making of this book, I thought I’d share a little of the process.)

    I can’t go into great detail about the curse without writing a colossal spoiler, but lets just say that I looked at the curse in terms of the progression of Jandu’s education about the humanity of all people. I felt that Jandu’s story arc had a very strong element of a “walk a mile in another man’s moccasins before you judge him” sort of thing and the curse seemed the next logical step in that progression, even though it fell strongly outside the normal template of romance. The author and I talked about the fact that some readers might be completely alienated by this part of the story, but in the end she decided that pushing the boundaries of the epic romance story (and of the perception of the “alpha male”) were worth that risk. And I agreed that no Astrid Amara book would be complete without at least a brief foray into some uncomfortable area, so we went ahead with it.

    As for Keshan’s wife: you know, if readers hadn’t pointed this out, I would have never noticed it. I felt that the character acted well within his own historical period and culture and had no problem with it. But when the issue was first raised I went through and reread the passages with the wife and… I liked the book even more, because characters like Keshan always run the risk of degenerating into saccharine do-gooders who, if they have faults at all are faults such as “too beautiful” or “too noble.” So I liked that Amara gave Keshan a genuine and realistic character fault. I think this one comes down to personal taste, though. I like flawed characters a lot, so of course I would like it, but I get that that there are many, many other readers in the world with different taste than me.

    Cheers!

    NK

    PS- MB: I once sent an electronic ARC of “The Archer’s Heart” to a reviewer and he wrote me back asking for a paper copy of the book because, on account of it’s length, he found reading it on a laptop difficult. If “The Archer’s Heart” were ever to be an ebook I think it would definitely have to be broken up into at least 3 books to ease reading because it would be “a squillion pages long.” And 3 ebooks at 4.99 would actually end up costing more than a paper copy, I think. 🙂

  4. Hey Nikki, your thoughts as always are interesting and provide much food for thought. 🙂 And, I have to agree that if a character is too squeaky clean they’re not accessible to humble folk like me! Liked your blog about It’s my baby by the way. http://kimnik.livejournal.com/44414.html

    LB, this is good and a tome! As for Shirtlifter, it is interesting and very different from my usual comic fare. Am writing a review, needs work though-doing some pondering. 😀

    Hey Josh, I thought the cover was cool. The whole presentation of the book was gorgeous. I love my pulp covers, they’re wicked cool. Found them a few weeks ago and I so covet them! I have scoured the 2nd hand book shops here in NZ to no avail. I’d love a couple, apparently they’re collectors items and super expensive. I am such a bibliophile and keep imagining how they’d look on my shelves. It’s a sickness. heh.

  5. Dammit Sarah. You are such an AA pimp. I’ve read everything of hers, bar this, and it’s all your fault! LOL. Now I want this book too.

    Great review!

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