‘The Tome of Haren’ by Damien Francis – Book Review



The nation of Narean is vulnerable.

There hasn’t been a Keeper to protect and defend its people for over 150 years.

As rumours of war grow, Narean needs a Keeper more than ever. Orphaned since birth, Aeidor has no expectations for life except surviving day to day, so when a legend from old stories claims that he is to be the next Keeper, the powerful champions entrusted with defending Narean, Aeidor must journey farther than he ever imagined in search of an artefact long thought lost, the Tome of Haren.

Now Aeidor must contend with elite mercenaries, called Blooders, hired to retrieve the Tome for their mysterious dark master.

As the challenges mount and time draws nearer to the war to come, Aeidor questions whether he can live up to the legacy of the Keepers and save the nation of Narean…

Title – The Tome of Haren [The Keeper Chronicles #1]

Author – Damien Francis

Publisher – Shawline Publishing Group

Genre – Fantasy/Action/Adventure [Adult Fiction]

Chapters – 80 [alongside a prologue]

Pages – 1,003 [Kindle Edition] (Yes, this is a chonky boi!)

Cover – 9.5/10! [Cover Design by Shawline Publishing Group Pty Ltd] (LOVE IT! The vibe it gives off is too good!)

Release Date – 15 April, 2022

I have been hearing some pretty high praise for ‘The Tome of Haren’ by Damien Francis since quite a while now. So, when the wonderful folks at indiebooktours announced that the epic, dark fantasy debut was going on a book tour of its own, I wasn’t going to miss out on signing up! And hence, I would like to sincerely thank the organizers, alongside the author, for giving me the opportunity to review it by providing a digital copy.

Here’s a quick summary of what unfolds:

“… War is rumbling, the wheels are in motion, and what you see around are only the beginnings of something far worse. This war will be like nothing Narean has ever seen before.”

The nation of Narean is on the brink of a dangerous and costly war with its southern neighbor of Lar Brennon. The latter’s King, to achieve his goal of invading and capturing Narean, has hired the help of two of the most feared, dangerous, and deadly organizations known in the lands… The assassins of Halrom – experts in the crafts of poison, magic, and blades. And the elite mercenary unit known as the Blooders – cannibalistic individuals crazy for blood-lust. To make matters worse, Lar Brennon’s forces have already crossed the borders, and war is anything but inevitable…

Meanwhile at the center of Narean, where sits the nation’s largest city and the capital itself – Demres, the pieces have already started their respective moves in what is a much bigger and badder game…

Aeidor is an orphan struggling to make a living for himself in the poorer parts of Demres along with his close friends from the orphanage – Hessa, Lylla, and Tal. But unbeknownst to all four, their lives are about to take a massive turn, flip completely upside down, and change in more ways than one… forever.

Princess Eiylin is living a normal, quite boring life under the rule of her father King Donovan, until certain chain of events disrupt the peace of the entire nation, and shatter her own perception of what it actually means to be a royal…

Iacor – a young, fierce, bold, and courageous lieutenant from the second incursion force that have infiltrated the borders of Narean from Lar Brennon, is determined to carry out his part in the grand scheme of things, hoping to prove a point…

All of their paths – whether knowingly or otherwise, and whether by fate or by design, will cross with each other sooner rather than later… with everything revolving around one thing, and one thing only… the fabled Tome of Haren. A powerful book made of magic. A mystical item said to contain and store an immeasurable quantity of magical, spiritual, and mundane knowledge within its covers, all of which could be easily accessible to anyone who had a hold of it…

The powerful and the dangerous walk the same line, and it can be hard to tell them apart.

And thus begins a desperate, do-or-die race against time for a group of rag-tag companions who must embark on a journey quite unlike any other… Through the Vale of Onofor – a place of horror and nightmares; a place of evil and darkness… To the sanctuary of The Ravens… And finally into the depths of the City of the Dead… They all will have to brave each and every one of the odds if they are to find the Tome… for it is going to be anything but easy. With the Blooders hot on their trail, and with tensions boiling over between the two nations, the group’s success is of paramount importance… for if the Tome falls into the wrong hands, there will be nothing but chaos…

What did I well and truly enjoy about it?

  • To begin with, this really is epic fantasy at its finest. Of that, I have no doubt whatsoever!
  • The characters were superbly written, and each has a certain amount of depth, background, and growth present throughout.
  • The plot was really engaging, and although it does feel that the book maybe a bit “too long” at times, everything was nicely tied up by the end which makes it worth.
  • The world/lore was excellently put forth, and I found myself fully immersed in it. The world building in general was really nicely done.
  • The writing was pretty good too altogether. The group’s journey through the Vale was among some of the best and the most thrilling sequences that I’ve read in recent times.
  • The third person, multi-POV aspect is a major highlight in my opinion, and is very nicely written too.
  • The prologue set up the tone very well with its intrigue, and the ending was very satisfactory as well.

What didn’t quite hit the mark?

In all honesty and seriousness, I really can’t point a finger with respect to the “negatives”. The only thing which pops into my mind is the actual length of the book itself, and it does feel a little bit slow at certain times. But, as I’ve mentioned above, all that is really worth it once you finish the book.

Other info.

  • Two maps are present at the start.
  • A pronunciation guide, along with a glossary, is also present at the end.
  • Note: – Mature themes are present throughout (blood/gore; violence; death).

Final thoughts

A quite INCREDIBLE dark, epic fantasy debut which impressively honors the various tropes of the genre, and lives up to its name in more ways than one. And although it is quite the chunk boi in itself, the characters, the plot, the world – everything was excellently done and equally well written. There’s tons of action, tons of politics, tons of drama, and tons of thrills throughout. What more can you ask for? I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you go check it out, and add it to your TBR asap!

Grab your copy atAmazon