The Fire in His Hands (The Dread Empire: A Fortress in Shadow #1) ★★★☆ ½

firehands (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Librarything & Tumblr by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Fire in His Hands
Series: The Dread Empire: A Fortress in Shadow #1
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 212
Format: Digital Edition




Micah * insert really long family moniker that nobody cares about * is visited by an “Angel” riding a winged horse carrying a cornucopiea. Micah changes his name to El Murid and begins proselytizing all the tribes that have fallen away from the True Faith. This of course sets him on a collision course with the powers that be. He marries a girl and her brother becomes his general. The powers that be don’t take him seriously and so things progress to the point where the whole area is torn apart.

The powers that be end up hiring mercenaries. In one of those mercenary troops is a guy named Braki Ragnarson. We met him in the previous trilogy. We find out how he left his land and joined the mercenaries.

More fighting, El Murid appears to have won the day and Haroun, a younger son, inherits the Crown and begins a guerilla warfare to take back the kindgom.


My Thoughts:

El Murid and Haroun were both mentioned in the previous trilogy but weren’t a big part. So I wasn’t sure how to place them at first. But with the introduction of Ragnarson, it all clicked. This A Fortress in Shadow sub-series is a prequel to A Cruel Wind trilogy. What confused me right off was that there didn’t appear to be anything to do with the Dread Empire. I am wondering if perhaps the Dread Empire is the empire that fell hundreds of years ago and not the Eastern Empire we are introduced to in A Cruel Wind. But that contradicts everything I know from those books. Whatever.

I knew things were going to be bad once that blasted Star Rider gave Micah a mission. That guy is bad news and I hate him even more now. What an illegitimate offspring of a donkey’s backside!

The overall story took years and we’d skip years or months inbetween paragraphs. It wasn’t always clear that time had elapsed or it felt very rough. I just held on for the ride. This was as much political machinations and maneuvering between factions as it was about actual battles.

The story ends with Haroun taking up the Invisible Crown and becoming the King without a Kingdom that we know. We actually are introduced to his son in the A Cruel Wind series so we already know that Haroun has a lifetime of fighting ahead of him with no success. Not sure how the next book, or two, will deal with that. I don’t actually know how many books are in the A Fortress in Shadow series. I just don’t care enough to go look for it. 

★★★☆ ½


  1. All Darkness Met (Book 3)
  2. October’s Baby (Book 2)
  3. A Shadow of All Night Falling (Book 1)


10 thoughts on “The Fire in His Hands (The Dread Empire: A Fortress in Shadow #1) ★★★☆ ½

  1. This Star Rider sounds like one unlikeable dude. But these guys make novels fun, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      There is a lot of info revealed about Star Rider in the Cruel Winds series and he’s not a good guy.

      I’m not sure if “fun” is the word I think of, but it certainly propels the plot on at a breakneck speed 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. OlaG says:

    Haven’t read that trilogy yet, but I’m a huge fan of Black Company books. I heard that the Dread Empire is much weaker series and your review indicates that is the case…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      Dread Empire was written before BC and it shows. A lot of the same anti-hero ideas and hidden agendas and great powers. But he hadn’t matured or developed the skill yet.

      On a different note, Ola, your avatar takes one to a website: which comes up as private, instead of taking one to your reenchantment of the world site. If deliberate, then no worries. But I’ve run into enough people who had something wrong with their gravatar address to know it is more common than not.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “What an illegitimate offspring of a donkey’s backside!”- hahahaha!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. For a pretty short book, it does seem heavy and a bit unexciting. But man… that donkey insult though.. hahahah

    Liked by 1 person

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