“Their lives are brought together as the threat of war looms in the neighbouring city state of Kandarah. However, Dojan and Nimsah share a secret, one that will set in motion a chain of events leading to vengeance.”
I received a free copy of this book from the author. This did not influence my review.
It’s difficult to write a book with dual timelines and two narrators, but you wouldn’t guess that from the ease with which Hardie’s book reads. Nimsah is a child of the street… and, years later, a mysterious high-ranked representative of the Bank that effectively owns kingdoms. How did Dojan, the Crown Prince of Bengarath get involved with her back when her livelihood depended on how much she could steal or overhear for a glorified thug? Who were they to each other back then, and who are they now? Out of the two, the Crown Prince is the simpleton… perhaps I am doing him slight disservice, like many others in the book… and Nimsah – fit to be a queen, if not for the fact that a mere throne is below her. Nimsah’s power and influence reach far beyond those Dojan hopes for, and so does her sometimes ruthless understanding of reality Dojan is merely aware of.
The worldbuilding is vast, which some authors struggle with, because (I know from experience) finding the balance between info-dumping and confusion is very hard. Apart from a few (really a few) “as you will know” paragraphs in the beginning, A Quiet Vengeance eased me in at just the right pace. Speaking of pace, I prefer my books slower, character-based, with a plot, rather than rollercoaster-paced action-action-action. I got exactly what I hoped for. The characters, even secondary ones, felt fully fleshed-out. The Middle-Eastern/African-inspired world is glorious, too – customs, cultures, food, architecture so real in my imagination that filming the book might harm it.
I am enamoured with Nimsah and her evolution. Dojan, hmmm, let’s say he needs a bit more, ah, schooling – some of it provided by Nimsah herself. The true mastery and my favourite thing about A Quiet Vengeance is the skill with which Hardie alternates between the timelines and narrators, never disappointing, always keeping me on the edge of the seat without letting me either fall or doze off. Okay, I have two favourite things, the other being unpredictability of the plot. Towards the end, I guessed that *mhmmhm hmhmmm* would happen, yet I was still surprised by how it did. I shouldn’t have been. In retrospect, it was obvious. But Nimsah doesn’t just outsmart Dojan, she outsmarted me, too. Reader, I loved it. Can you tell?
I swore an oath to myself not to rate books written by authors I have a personal relationship with and I will not sway. I’m just going to say this – it might only be end of March, but A Quiet Vengeance is bound to rank among my favourite books of 2023. It’s simultaneously dark, escapist, fascinating, elegant, visceral, and entertaining. I read wide, to put it mildly. A Quiet Vengeance was a delightfully satisfying dish I dreaded finishing. Indie fantasy at its finest. Now guess how I would have rated it.