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Tomkin Thornhewn, youngest son of the Duke of Marshwell, is a lateral thinker. Fast on his metaphorical feet, he's as capable as his soldiering brother, just in different ways. Although, if he was speaking truthfully, his brother's many adventures seem to contain a great deal more fortune than those of Tomkin. In fact, the latest success his father and brother's company of soldiers achieved is largely owed to Tomkin's planning, regardless of whether Tomkin could've pulled them off with as much grace. Tomkin's retelling of events in his life show a significant writer's flair, as he recaps the events he hears and the rather mundane events he himself partakes of.
It is to Tomkin's thinking that if events were more interesting in his part of the world, that he'd be a very successful storyteller and the hero of many tales. As Tomkin receives his father's reply from a messenger of a neighbouring duchy, he reads that Duke's agreement to the proposed marriage his father suggests between himself and the Duke's daughter; a woman roughly his age with well known rumours of her fiery temper and bitter tongue. Although, if he were to only listen to the rumours concerning Tomkin Thornhewn, he'd hear only of cowardice and a boy who tried to fight a raging man with only his quill to defend him. Knowing only that an increase in perceived worth might save him from his terrible fate, a manservant enters his father's study, with the serendipitous word he needed to stave off such a fate; dragon.
From the weight of his great-uncle's sword he'll never be able to wield, to the near plummet to a death by drowning before he ever made a single step on the keep of the dragon's lair, its blatantly apparent that Tomkin's aspirations far outstrip his capabilities. The comedy of errors start before he even sets out, but the hero worship seen in the eyes of the shepherd reporting the dragon, stirs an imagination best left for a strenous workout with his quill. Indeed the only apparent capabilities are found in the young woman Tomkin names Mags, and her kobold called Wink. Fellow travellers with the dragon called Vorath.
If he were to pay better attention he'd quickly learn Mags is an intrepid soul. Not only is she fleeing a family with plans for her that don't match her own, her recounting has a flair as significant as his own. But neither young lord or lady truly knew what they were walking into. Vorath's memory, significantly larger than their own, created the plans a long time ago; even he's only now begun to set them in motion. Of the three companions not including the dragon, only two serve a longer goal, whilst one would be an example.
Comical and sentimental, the plot nonetheless includes revenge and retribution. Vorath's actions seek to show the strength and intelligence dragons are renowned for. Whilst the novella is A Keeper's Tale its essentially separate to A Threat of Shadows. You could read either of the books in any order and there'd be no cost from which comes first. I imagine this will hold true for any other Keepers Chronicles that might follow A Threat of Shadows too. I rated and reviewed book one of the chronicles and scored it five of five for the consistency of events that played out constantly.
Indeed there was barely a paragraph or two when something significant wasn't going on. Whilst I'm not suggesting any disappointment, and may be leaning toward an unfair evaluation based on a comparison between the two, the slight change in pace does tend to shift my rating back to a four. Its important to remember that depending on the story there are many reasons why events play out at differing paces; and therefore not all stories can jump from action to action in consecutive sequences throughout the full breadth of the story.
The novella's title gets a mention in A Threat of Shadows (The Keepers Chronicles Book 1) but is otherwise a standalone story. Throughout book one of the chronicles there are roughly a handful of occasions when characters talk of telling a story; and whilst it is never elaborated upon, it is nonetheless The Story of Tomkin and the Dragon that said characters want the Keepers to tell. The other link is that it is told via various Keeper retellings of Keepers named in A Threat of Shadows.
The Story of Tomkin and the Dragon is a very entertaining and enjoyable tale. With its lighthearted and meaningful components it is suitable for most ages. Its very fair pricing, like A Threat of Shadows too, makes for an even better score for it's downloading. I've certainly come across many examples where either the book is significantly shorter for the same price: or the price is significantly higher for the same length of a story. J.A. Andrews is an author worthy of following, and whilst there's a significant bunch of attributes readers of fantasy desire, there's also a number of hidden meanings for each reader to take away. This book had more humour than the other, with a slightly slower pace; but I'd be very surprised to see that any readers couldn't find a number of things that they liked. A recommended tale by a recommended author.
This is a wonderful story. It’s filled with difficult situations and the ingenious ways that the characters figure their way out of them...and utterly soaked through with witty banter between the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
A while ago I read this author’s high fantasy novel A Threat of Shadows, which is one of my favorite indie fantasy novels. A Keeper’s Tale is presented as a fable told and retold by people in the world where A Threat of Shadows takes place, and consequently is a little more like a fairy tale than a high fantasy novel. Our protagonist is Tomkin, the younger and less-favored son of a duke in a dull kingdom called Marshwell. Tomkin is a teenage dork, peevish, too weak to lift a sword, hardly the heroic archetype. He is sent on a quest through two coinciding events: learning that he’s been betrothed to a reputedly shrewish woman, and learning that a dragon has allegedly been devouring local livestock. Before long our brave hero finds himself trapped in a ruined castle alongside a moody dragon named Vorath, a longsuffering kobold named Wink, and a sarcastic young woman whom he calls Mags. The primary plot involves Tomkin’s attempt to escape his predicament, with the supporting characters helping and hindering him in various ways. Tomkin and Mags are fairly well developed as characters. Thy both have some gaps in their backstories, but they think and act in pretty credible ways. Vorath initially seems like a pretty stereotypical Smaug-esque dragon, but he gets some good development as well. I would have liked to see more development in Wink the kobold, as I was left with a few questions about his personality, motives, and background. That being said, I think it’s to the story’s benefit that there are so few characters. We’re able to get to know those characters without being distracted by keeping track of a wide cast of side characters. Overall I thought characterization was done very well. For the first half of the novel, everything is pretty light and comedic, and there are notable nods to other mostly light-hearted fantasy works like The Hobbit and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Around the halfway point there is a pretty significant mood shift. Learning more about how Mags and Vorath have come to be in the castle raises the stakes in the story, and it gets to be a little less light-hearted and a little more serious. That being said, the story and Andrews’s writing in general are proudly noblebright fantasy, and the menace stays PG and never quite reaches PG-13 or R. Fantasy fans who favor heavier, grimmer stories might dismiss this more positive fantasy as infantile or pointless, but I appreciate a wide variety of fantasy and thoroughly enjoyed the book. I suppose the target audience might be teenagers and kids rather than adults, but as an adult I liked it, and I think many other fans of the genre would too.
This is a fine read, a fairy tale style adventure featuring an interesting villain and some turning of tropes on their heads. Andrews’ writing is superb and I knew from nearly the first page that this was going to be a book I’d enjoy. Perhaps the best way to describe the tale is that it’s a fun jaunt in a fairy tale world. If you’re looking for epic battles and empires hanging in the balance, this likely isn’t for you. However, this perfectly scratched the “I need something light between epics” itch I was feeling.
A Keeper’s Tale is a quick read, but the pacing is spot on. Each chapter moves things along nicely, with never a feeling of filler or much downtime. Andrews has an excellent feel for keeping things moving, and it’s something I especially appreciate in a quick read of this nature. Well done. Although the book is not advertised as YA, I think it would be a great read for those who are looking for something different from typical YA fare. I loved the way Andrews turned the knight-after-a-damsel trope on its head.
The novel does have some weaknesses. I thought the characterization of the main character was somewhat juvenile. He is twenty but behaves more like a teenager. In addition, the first several chapters make him seem like a somewhat out-of-the-box thinker, but he quickly becomes a very in-the-box thinker, unable to see things from a different viewpoint. There is one point toward the end of the book where he suddenly snaps back into his out-of-the-box negotiator persona—and that works. I would have liked to have seen more stability in the characterization of the MC and less high school-ish behavior between the male and female leads. Correcting this would have taken the book from a solid, enjoyable read to something extraordinary.
While the characterization for the main character was weak, in my opinion, the rest of the book is strong enough that it certainly still deserves a read. Don’t let that single criticism keep you from enjoying a wonderful take on the dragon-slaying-knight-meets-damsel-in-distress trope.
Choosing an exact rating was a hard decision and Amazon and Goodreads allowing only “whole star” ratings made it even more difficult. In the end, I’ve given it 3.8/5 stars, though I don’t think this rating fully captures the enjoyment I received from the story.
Although I have read the first 3 keeper books, I don't feel that it is necessary for someone to read this book and enjoy it. As it says, it is a tale told by a keeper, but it's the story he tells that is important. A young man Tompkin, who is not overly brave, strong, or a warrior, but is good at helping to manage his father's estate. He hears of a dragon in their area and goes to see about it and from there the fun starts. I don't want to spoil it for you, but he learns a lot and finds out that sometimes the things you fear may just be what you want and need. I highly recommend this book. It is a great introduction in J.A. Andrews work.
A Keeper’s Tale is the first book I’ve read by JA Andrews and one of the best I’ve read in a while.
The book is a story within a story. The tale of Tomkin and the Dragon is told throughout the kingdom for generations and is a favorite of many. There is good reason for that. Tomkin and the Dragon is witty and fun. I found myself laughing often at the snarky banter between the main characters.
The hero, Tomkin, sets off to kill a dragon that has come into the territory held by his family. He isn’t very good at dragon hunting and quickly things go wrong. Trapped with a woman he calls Mags, they constantly spar verbally with one another about getting out or helping the dragon.
Mags is sassy and full of spunk and a woot to read.
Tomkin and Mags can’t agree on anything and their constant, engaging, head-butting is a welcome reprieve from the insta-love in so many books now. The characters are smart, thoughtful, and learn to accept one another.
The story had enough twists and turns to keep me turning the pages. I look forward to reading more of JA Andrews’ work.
If you’d like to know more about JA check out her site.
Enjoyed reading this one, in between book 1 and 2 of “The Keeper Chronicles” series. It could’ve easily have been expanded on, and especially as a stand-alone, but no one seems to write stand-alones, particularly in this genre anymore. The one thing I don’t care for was it showing 20 pages, and 5% of the book left, only for it to be taken up with chapter 1 from book 1 of the series, along with acknowledgments, author bio, etc.