Review – The Hero Always Wins by Robert Eaton

(Note: I read The Hero Always Wins in the Smashwords ePub format. It is available at Smashwords and Kindle, and also in paperback from Createspace, if that’s more your thing.)

Having entered the indie author scene a little over a month ago, I have begun reading more and more works by my fellow independent/self-published authors. I read several through the LibraryThing Member Giveaways, and though I’d found some very good work that I enjoyed immensely, I was beginning to despair that I would ever give an independent book five stars.

This is that book.

If anything, my biggest complaint with The Hero Always Wins is the title. It conveys a sort of irreverent tone; a snarky, ironic title that – given the intense, harrowing tale contained within – gives the impression that the reader is going to be picking up something like a Discworld novel.

This is not a Discworld novel.

No, this is a stunning, genuinely surprising and engaging work which is only revealed in its independent nature by the virtue of the occasional modern colloquialism in the otherwise medieval fantasy world – the kind of thing a professional editor likely would have scrubbed out.

The story itself – the tale of the knight Darcy, son of the Champion of Leorht, is riveting. I was pulled in by the sample, but the story continued to get better from there. When the first major plot twist happened, I had been lulled by the fantasy tropes, and then I got hit in the face with a real, honest-to-god surprise. The last time I was actually surprised by a book was Changes by Jim Butcher, and that is some high praise right there.

Robert Eaton is the kind of writer that, as an author, I would be genuinely honored to collaborate with in some way. He and I seem to think a lot alike, particularly in themes (the price of magic, the true measure of a hero) and even smaller details – like the fact that the magic wielded by his Knights of the Citadel seems to have a fair amount in common with the manna commanded by my Arbiters.

The story came to a satisfying conclusion, but left itself open for a sequel.

Honestly, I can say that I am really looking forward to it.

Pros: Riveting story, strong characters, delicious detail and satisfying ending
Cons: The occasional colloquialism; I wonder if the ironic title might be too snarky for the narrative

Final Score: FIVE OUT OF FIVE. If you like fantasy, you REALLY should read this book.

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4 thoughts on “Review – The Hero Always Wins by Robert Eaton

  1. I’m currently on my fourth ebook from Smashwords, trying likewise to support indie writers.
    I have been pleasantly suprised by the calibre of writing.

  2. Thanks for the reply, Emma! The biggest thing I’ve found on Smashwords is that there’s a lot of chaff to sort through, but I guess that’s the price to pay for freedom. If we can get more great authors like Mr. Eaton in the indie market, it will help lend a LOT of legitimacy to our cause!

    I’m really hoping that Holly Lisle’s move to independent publishing will help people understand that it’s not just a fad and it’s not just vanity publishing – it’s a real entrepreneurial business model for people who want to retain control over their own work, and not compromise their vision for someone’s strict definition of marketability. We’re getting there!

  3. Yes there’s lots of poorly written books alright but if you check the sample pages before you buy you’ll know after a page or 2 of reading if the quality of the writing is good.

  4. Pingback: Top 5 Books of 2011 | Eye of the Storm

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