The Tales of Conor Archer, Vol. I

Fiction - Fantasy - General
545 Pages
Reviewed on 06/03/2013
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

E. R. Barr spent his youth wandering around "Conor Country" known better as the southwest corner of the state of Wisconsin. The Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers and the lands around them, dotted with Indian mounds and filled with stories and legends, fueled his imagination. Not till he started traveling world-wide did he truly begin to see connections between Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the lands where he was born. His forebears came from those ancient nations and settled there in Wisconsin. Always wondering why, he kept searching for answers. A writer on all things Celtic, a follower of Lewis and Tolkien, and a popular speaker on these issues, E. R. Barr makes his home in northwest Illinois.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite

Conor Archer's life in Chicago has been a simple one. He has been home-schooled by his mother, Finola, and he spends his evenings playing music at a local pub. All that changes one night when he meets a strange, leather-clad man at that pub who gives him a strange liquor to drink and then savagely bites his hand, and later encounters a strangely beautiful woman who binds that wound with a cloth and pin. All the weirdness of these events is compounded by the death of his mother, who had been ill for some time. Her final instructions are for him to travel to a small town, Tinker's Grove, in Wisconsin, where his aunt Emily would care for him and continue his education. As he is travelling on the bus, his wounded hand festers, and he arrives at his destination more dead than alive.

"Roan" is not a book you should consider spending a long evening reading. It is not a fast and easy read, quickly absorbed and then forgotten. E.R. Barr's urban-epic fantasy is much more than that, and it should be savored. I quickly found myself enthralled by the characters and the plot, and became reluctant to hasten my adventure through this book. It is an amazing mix of urban and epic fantasy, shot through with Native American, Irish and Welsh mythology, people with characters who are both filled with human frailties and are larger-than-life. If you are like me and have become somewhat jaded by epic fantasy, you are in for an awesome treat. This is the real deal.

Ruffina Oserio

Roan: The Tales of Conor Archer by E.R. Barr is a well-written story with supernatural undertones. Conor Archer is playing in a Celtic band in an Irish pub in downtown Chicago when a biker pulls him out, bites him, and says “Welcome to the family,” before disappearing. Conor returns home to hold his mother who passes away after instructing him to visit an old Celtic town called Tinker’s Grove. Gravely ill, he arrives there to find out that strange happenings are taking place and that the people act strangely, too. While all he wants is to get well, the people see him as a hero who will lead them in a struggle to oust evil from their land. Is he the leader they are looking for or could this be a grave mistake?

I am reviewing the audio version of this story, which is wonderfully delivered. The reading is clear and is delivered in a tone that respects the voice of the narrator. The pace is just right for any listener and the alternating tones will help the listener to understand and note the changes in points of view, the punctuation, dialogues, and stay engaged with the characters as the story spirals into a climax. E.R. Barr’s writing is smooth and the prose sounds excellent. I loved the diction, which many readers will find familiar. The story is fast-paced and gripping. I had a lot of fun listening while driving through the rush hour traffic. Roan: The Tales of Conor Archer is a compelling story that will delight readers and have them wanting more. It was a pleasurable listening experience for me.

Katelyn Hensel

Connor Archer’s world is falling down around him. His mother is dying, and he is soon going to be on his own, a teenager alone in the dark streets of Chicago. Playing his whistle at a local Irish bar is his only escape, until one night, a dark stranger opens up his eyes to a history he has never known, and a world that he thought only existed in his imagination. After making his way to the town of his birth, Connor is forced to contend with great evil, but makes some interesting and powerful friends along the way. Through the eyes of the citizens of the town, both the dark and the good, a mystery unfolds within the town that threatens great evil. The story is a combination of history, mystery, and mythology.

You thought Percy Jackson had problems? Wait until you see what Connor Archer has in store. The mythology that E.R. Barr has created for this story is wonderful. I am a big fan of myths of all flavors, and "Roan" blends together Celtic and Native American mythology in a believable and interesting way. Barr has created a full-fledged adventure story that blends the boundaries between this world and the next. The writing style is quite believable for a young adult story. There are witty banter, dark foreshadowing, and lots of adventure, but it still maintains that innocent and slightly confused tone of a youth trying to figure everything out. The story itself has moments of pure horror in addition to little bits of romance and lots of mystery. This is a book for people who love blended genres and enjoy a good mystery.

Tania Staley

"Roan: The Tales of Conor Archer, Vol.1" by E.R. Barr is a fabulous tale of Celtic myth and legend. Barr truly understands the complexities of Celtic myth and wields his knowledge expertly. "Roan" is an exciting blend of traditional myth with current fantasy writing trends that create a refreshing new world for readers to explore. This is a real page-turner that is easy to get immersed in. If you are a fan of epic fantasies like those of J.R.R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, or Terry Brooks, then you are sure to love this modern fairy tale.

"Roan" tells the story of seventeen-year-old musician Conor Archer, whose life is radically changed when a mysterious stranger arrives at his gig and beckons him to follow. Spurred by an intoxicating drink from the stranger’s flask, Conor follows against his better judgment and is pulled into a world he never knew existed. That same night his mother succumbs to the cancer that has been ravaging her, but before she dies she tells her son that the things he has witnessed that night are portents of danger to come; therefore, he must return home to Tinker’s Grove, Wisconsin, to an aunt he never knew existed. Soon Conor is surrounded by tales of a distant past in which his name is whispered, a town that refuses to see the truth, creatures that defy reality, and an evil intent upon destroying the peace that has been carefully maintained for hundreds of years. It will take strength and courage for Conor to claim his rightful place and wield the power that is his birthright. If he fails to do so, Tinker’s Grove will fall, and soon the world will know darkness as it has never seen before.

Kathryn Bennett

"Roan: The Tales of Conor Archer" by E. R. Barr introduces us to a myth and legend and the Tinkers who have exiled themselves and gone sailing west of Ireland. The main character is Conor Archer who arrived in Tinker's Grove, Wisconsin, just after his mother died and after a strange man saw his webbed hands and declared him kin. Conor finds out that it is to become a life and death struggle to get to Tinkers Grove and to find out what was happening to him. we learn about the old Celtic myths from him.

E.R Barr has here created a complex and captivating story. It brings forward Celtic myths that are not as commonly known as Greek, Roman or Nordic mythology. This story has a little bit of everything in it: the myth, the magic, science, and an enemy to go with the hero-like Caithness McNabb. For me there are parts of the book that are just a little to cluttered with a bit too much to take on board at one time. Other than that, I couldn't find anything I didn't like. Conor is a character that you well root for and you can put yourself in his shoes as he finds out things that he never knew before while he has also to butt up against Caithness McNabb. The villain is one you will love to hate; for me that is the perfect villain because if I cannot feel the dislike of the bad guy then what is the point of them being there? If you are ready for taking on myths in a modern land and diving into a complex well-written story, this is the book for you.

Maria Beltran

On the night his mother dies in Chicago, 17-year-old Conor discovers that he is among the children called ‘the dark ones,’ born when the men of The Tinkers consorted with the shape shifting Roan long ago. He encounters a man who bites off a part of his webbed hand and stumbles about bleeding when he meets a woman, who wraps his hand and tells him he has only 24 hours left. When he returns to his dying mother, he is told to go to Tinker’s Grove, Wisconsin, for salvation. He is healed with the help of the abbot Malachy and a disfigured being, residing in an old Indian Mound by the river. The story develops as he encounters enemies in the character of Caithness McNabb, a landowner, who dreams of power at the urgings of an Indian demon named Piasa. Caithness works with bio-geneticist Dr. Nicholas Drake to discover what secrets the dark ones hold. So when children go missing, people are afraid their secrets may be revealed. Meanwhile, Conor tries to evade his true nature, while the rest of the future lies in whether or not he accepts his fate.

If fans of fantasy fiction who have not read "Roan" explore it, they will not be disappointed with its complex characters and a strong plot. The prose is superb and its many vivid scenes are painted with foreboding, action and suspense. It is amazing how E.R. Barr seamlessly intertwines the magic of Celtic and American Indian legends in one story, and then sets it in modern times. Moreover, it is a story of self-discovery and the age-old fight between good and evil. This is a narrative that is told in a re-imagination of lore and science, and life and its lessons, and the result is an extremely riveting tale. Filled with many interesting characters and with a plot that can leave the reader breathless, this novel is difficult to put down.