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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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid 5 Star Rating. Excellent storytelling. Enjoyable read., July 12, 2016
By vermont reviewer
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This review is from: Roan: The Tales of Conor Archer (Kindle Edition)
Wow, I can not remember the last really great book that I did read. But this one by E.R. Barr titled Roan: The Tales of Conor Archer are at the top of my list. The author knows how to build characters who come to life and are able to share their story with the reader. Impressive descriptions throughout and page turning excitement. One of my favorite lines from the book. “This land and the waters around it hold secrets, and us poor humans that walk and swim barely know the stories they can tell, or the mysteries they still hide.” Heroes, demons, mystery, fantasy, and the characters who bring excitement to each and every page. Well written, held my interest from start to finish. I am so glad to have read this book. I am sure I will re-read it. Yes, it was that good. Will definitely recommend it to friends and family. Piasa is the granddaddy of snakes and vermin and all things that go bump in the night challenges the main characters Conor Archer and his friends to an outcome that will bring you to the edge of your chair. Rory Nalan push-starts Conor Archer on his life changing journey. Conor’s friends Jace and Beth Michaels and Troubles the dog find adventure on just about each and every page. The author knows how to build a story and characters. Fantasy is one of my favorite stories to read. This one rates a solid 5 Stars. I can’t wait for the next installment in the series. E.R. Barr a name to add to your favorites list.
The official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Roan: The Tales Of Conor Archer" by E. R. Barr.
Review by jacnthabox
Roan: The Tales of Conor Archer, by debut author E.R. Barr, is classified as an Urban Fantasy. While I agree with that notion, I contend that the novel is so much more. This tale is epic in scope, destined to become a saga. Despite the story’s magnitude, however, it takes the life of a classic campfire story. Barr’s writing style is at once fast-paced, richly complex, and intensely engaging. Not to play my hand too quickly, but I thoroughly enjoyed Roan. If the author made a mistake with this novel, it can only be that he set an extremely high bar for his future writing. This book is a perfect read for Urban Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, and Dark Fantasy enthusiasts alike.
Roan centers on Conor Archer, a Chicago teen who learns of his mysterious Celtic ancestry in the midst of a family tragedy. Whisked away to a rural village in Wisconsin, Conor begins to unravel the puzzle of his bloodline even as he learns that some of the residents of Tinker’s Grove share a common heritage and even darker secrets. Moreover, Conor soon realizes that his new home is a convergence of Christian tradition, Celtic myth, and Native American folklore. In Tinker’s Grove, legends are not only a reality, but Conor Archer is actually a part of the town's mythology! The prophecies aren’t complete, however, and if Conor can’t accept his place as a warrior of Light, then he is destined to be the harbinger of Darkness. An engrossing novel that deluges the present day with the legends of a time before time, once Roan has you in its clutches, it will refuse to let go, even long after the last page has been read.
I award Roan 4 out of 4 Stars. There’s honestly no other rating to bestow upon this novel, as E.R. Barr delivered so much more than I was expecting. Because of the genre’s ever deepening talent pool, Urban Fantasy is simply not an easy genre to break into; direct competitors include Jim Butcher, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, and Lilith Saintcrow, just to name a few. Barr, however, jumps in feet first with this novel and doesn’t look back. The world of Conor Archer is carefully crafted to include real history and incorporate cross-cultural legends and lore in a manner that allows the book to be complex and multi-faceted yet easy to follow. World-building is such a crucial element to fantasy fiction, and the failure of authors to define real rules for supernatural beings or powers often leads poor storytelling. E.R. Barr does not make this mistake; as a result, the story is allowed to grow and build upon itself in a reasonable manner.
In addition to world-building, the author performs superlatively in character development. A character is but a useless plot element if the reader feels no emotion toward it. There are no useless plot elements to be found here, though. The sordid history of the town’s outcasts, the dark ones, is painful to uncover. Conor’s passion to make his own destiny is real in all of us. The reader can’t help but feel the evil dripping from the veins of the McNabb boys and their mother, Cate. It’s impossible not to have a vested interest in the people of Tinker’s Grove as the story progresses.
Finally, the story itself is original and compelling. On the surface, Roan is a coming-of-age tale about a boy caught between making his own way and evolving into a destiny that was spoken over him thousands of years before his birth. However, it is also a tale of the battle between Good and Evil, both in flesh and spirit. Mythical heroes and legendary creatures are given a little insight as to what it means to be human. What is the ultimate Good, service or sacrifice? What is the ultimate Evil, the devil you see or the devil in your mind? Every character, from the wicked water beast Piasa to the great Roan Prince Madoc, will have to answer these questions before the final chapter is concluded.
There’s not much negative to say about this first work from E.R. Barr. He has his own narrative style, which was sometimes off-putting as he likes to begin his sentences with verbs, but it’s easy to get used to. Roan is one of the better books I’ve read this year, and I’m highly anticipating a sequel. E.R. Barr has definitely made an impact on me as a reader. This is a book you need to read.
Barr excels at world-building, using existing Native American and Celtic lore to create a rich mythic heritage all his own...Barr also shines at characterization, making Conor and those around him well-rounded and easy to empathize with...The use of lyrical refrains combined with the author's own Celtic-inspired verses throughout the book gives the story a larger-than-life, legendary quality similar to Homeric epics. This beautiful stylistic choice lends a certain gravitas and suspense to the story...This book is strongly recommended for lovers of Tolkien, Pratchett, and George R. R. Martin.
From debut author Barr comes an urban-fantasy novel about an adolescent boy on the cusp of mysterious change and the strange town within which he seeks refuge...Full of folklore and charm, the story is an inviting mix of the fantastic, the innocent, and the altogether sinister...The book avoids the clichés of the genre while providing a swift, spiraling journey. A novel entry into the world of teenage fantasy that ultimately unfolds into a truly epic saga.
From the fantastical to the emotional, this is one book that hits on all cylinders. In fact, not since Potter has there been such a large story with so many intricate characters; except this one also gives the Celtic twist that all lovers of Irish knowledge, history and beauty will absolutely adore.
---Feathered Quill Book Reviews
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: June 6, 2014
From the fantastical to the emotional, this is one book that hits on all cylinders. In fact, not since Potter has there been such a large story with so many intricate characters; except this one also gives the Celtic twist that all lovers of Irish knowledge, history and beauty will absolutely adore.
The Tinkers are a group that went through a great deal back in their homeland. Their story involves a mystical plot: Upon exiling themselves, they headed out to find a new place to live. However, the Tinkers men folk actually fought with shapeshifters called Roan, which come from the depths of Celtic mythology. The wives returned as seals, but their pups transformed into human children. These 'human' children were granted the name 'Dark Ones' by the Tinkers who accepted them as family.
Upon reaching the New World, this group settled in a beautiful spot where actual legends came to life; and there they sat, while the townspeople around them kept the Celtic secrets and made sure no one was ever aware of the 'Dark Ones.'
This is the myth; this is the legend; and this is exactly what main character, Conor Archer, learns about after landing in Tinker’s Grove, Wisconsin. Conor came to the state with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Sent by his mother, who’s dying words told him that he must head straight for the location, Conor actually arrives in the small town succumbing to an illness that he does not understand; a type of sickness that makes Conor more than just a human.
Conor’s health improves with the help of an abbot, but he soon finds himself locked in a struggle between myth and reality. The Roan, the 'Dark Ones' - all of the mystical characters are there to join him in his battle between good and evil in order to save humanity as a whole.
The suspense and action intensify as Conor begins to change. Not only does he gaze at a river demon, but his visions of beings that could not possibly be real grow in number. On top of all this, Conor must wage war with a rich landowner who has no interest in anything but money and establishing absolute power.
Add in a bio-geneticist, an immortal Welsh prince by the name of Madoc, and a town that has literally gone crazy with panic believing that their long silence may just come back to harm them, and you have a book that brings all manner of hero and villain to life.
Although some may refer to the book as a bit 'wordy' in spots, the words are riveting. The scenes are larger than life, leading the reader to actually feel as if they are standing by the side of Conor, just waiting to see what happens next.
Quill says: Well done for a debut novel. Readers, however, will need to amp up their patience as they beg to know, 'what happens next?'
Review by hiwriters -- Roan by E. R. Barr
22 Mar 2017
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. Although it was a lengthy story it was very enjoyable. I felt immersed as if I were watching it from an up close view. It's difficult to put together legends, myths, and folklore in a real time setting, but it has been done quite well by E.R. Barr. Picturing today's society accepting such fantasies would be impossible because those who believed it would be locked away and called crazy. This is the problem that our hero faces in ROAN: The Tales of Conor Archer Volume 1.
Conor Archer is in a place we can relate to in terms of modern time, Chicago-present day, but after a grave loss he follows his loved one's wishes to go to the only family he has, but has never known in Tinker's Grove in Wisconsin. He has been wounded by a biker who arrived in Chicago just before his mother's passing. After the mysterious man bit him he ended their odd meeting by exclaiming that Conor was in for a change. The boy who had barely gotten over boyhood was being rushed into manhood very quickly while taking on the burden of the fate of the world.
Although an old story line, an new approach has been taken in this new world, known as Tinker's Grove. Those around him are trying to accept his presence in this new place seeing that everything is going from normalcy to chaos and much is left unexplained. He has two friends and others who try to guide and mentor him. Among those are a priest who is more than just a man and his only family left, his aunt, who he was told to seek out by his mother. Her wisdom is unmatched and her courage a pillar he hangs on to tightly in the days to come as he learns who he is and what's to come. The townspeople are quite relateable and real to life from the barkeep to the banker each with their own lives to live. The people are aware of the "Dark Ones" in their mist, and their history obligates them to protect them even though they do not understand or know why.
Conor Archer is a character, easily remembered, but not easily understood. E.R. Barr used great care in withholding information and dropping bite size teasers that made every moment of wondering how was it going to end worth it. In this tale mixed with Celtic Folklore, Native American myths, and a little faith, Conor and his friends meet Otherworld characters who we would usually judge upon meeting as good or evil on sight, instead he makes us step back and allow for gray areas where its not so cut and dry. Love is strong, but can it really conquer all? Wisdom is needed, but only given when the giver deems a recipient is ready in body, mind, and soul. This story takes all three into account and makes us believe in what you cannot see. It makes you question how we weigh ourselves and others when good and evil are not the only scales that determine the fate of the world and all who reside in it.
A good mixture that can be compared to Lord of the Rings and Hunger Games. The age group it's targeted for is a bit low, stating 12-18 year olds, but it would be more appropriate for ages 16 and up. I would recommend this for anyone who loves Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre mixed with legends. This is the first work of the author, E. R. Barr, who states he grew up on Native American Tales and found ways they weaved into folklore and myths from around the world when he began traveling which revealed connection that he used to piece together this delightful story. I look forward to the next installment.
Onlinebookclub Volunteer Review by dosenron877 23 Feb 2017
Roan: The Tales of Conor Archer by E. R. Barr is Volume One in a series of epic fantasy. Barr has created several worlds to populate this story. There are the worlds of good and evil; each of these worlds is split into two parts. The world of evil, the dark powers, has Piasa, a monster that is evil. But this same world has Madoc, the father of Conor, representing a despairing and resigned good element in a world predominantly evil.
Characters drive this novel. The characters will reveal themselves and their parts in the overall story only gradually; the reader will peel the parts of the story as if peeling an onion. Part of the fun of this novel is the discoveries the reader will make as the reader puts the story together. It is not a linear story where the reader can predict what comes next. The characters change directions and goals as they evolve.
The main protagonist Conor Archer drives the book and establishes a central theme. Conor has a destiny and he doesn't know what it is. Other characters either reveal parts of it to him or give him subtle hints as to what his role in life is. No one gives him a clear and complete explanation. This irritates Conor. He wants to lead his own life, especially after falling in love with Beth. But all the hints he gets about his ultimate purpose in life lead to a conclusion that he must first suffer horribly before arriving at a point of self-realization and fulfillment. The central theme of the novel centers around the answers to several questions. Can he take control of his destiny or is everything in his life predetermined by a higher power? If he can take control of his destiny, why should he sacrifice anything for the enrichment of someone else or some other group? Throughout the entire novel, Conor struggles and vacillates between the ideals of sacrificing for others or withdrawing from all society and living a self-centered life targeted at immediate gratification. All other characters in the novel push and pull him in different directions. Conor changes his behavior in response and in turn influences the behavior and character development of others.
Subordinate characters go through similar conflicts. Rory is one of the “supernatural” characters. The reader first meets Rory as an unnamed stranger when Rory meets Conor just prior to the death of Conor's mother. Rory seems to be no friend of Conor as he bites Conor on the web that exists between the fingers of Conor's hand. This eventually puts Conor into some sort of trance which he must emerge from in order to claim his destiny. Is Rory Conor's ally or enemy? At various times in the story he will aid Conor, at other times he will obstruct. His purpose in biting Conor was to speed Conor's journey into a transformation that will make him one of the “Dark People.” Not all Dark People are bad. Rory seems to be some sort of broker between the forces of evil and the forces of good. His character changes to meet his role at the time.
Another interesting subordinate character is Caithness McNabb. She is the matriarch and ruler of a rich family that controls most of Tinker's Grove. She became the absolute family boss after killing her husband. Caithness has three sons, all very despicable and flawed. Although completely human, she longs to serve Piasa, a completely evil leader of the dark powers. She will sacrifice anything to include her sons. In this way, she is a mirror of the situation Conor finds himself in. Conor's father, Madoc, is quite willing to sacrifice Conor in a battle to defeat Piasa.
I gave this book a 4 out of 4 rating for several reasons. The novel has depth due to character development. There are few one-dimensional characters. Even Walter Johnson, a fisherman who appears briefly at least twice in the novel has important functions and a well-developed character. Then the novel has a linear breadth as it spans large amounts of time from the past through the present and into the future. Aunt Emily has been around for a long time and while she doesn't travel into the future, she offers glimpses of it to Conor. These time jumps are seamless and do not feel strange to the reader.
Finally, this book re-introduced me to the fantasy genre. I abandoned the genre years ago after getting mired down in the length of works like Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series. Based on experience with this novel, I recommend this to other readers who may have similarly given up on lengthier works. Try this one and you will come back to fantasy.
Onlinebookclub Volunteer Review by CZCampbell 02 May, 2017
When the bus dropped him off in Tinker's Grove, Conor Archer did not understand why the townsfolk stared at him and whispered behind his back. He was only there because with his mother's dying breath, she told him to go home to Tinker's Grove, Wisconsin where Aunt Emily, who he has never heard of, lives. The townsfolk there live and thrive off of the myths and legends surrounding their little town relating back almost a thousand years to a Welsh Prince who brought the offspring of the Selchies, dark ones as they were called, with him to settle the land. But this quiet town is not as peaceful as it appears. With science and technology clashing with the mythological and religious, can the ultimate battle of good versus evil come to fruition in this backwoods town of Tinker's Grove?
A debut novel for author E.R. Barr, Roan: The Tales of Conor Archer is a fantastical and fast-paced journey with many twists and turns. With an ever expanding plot and increasingly deep characters and relationships, this story is both complex but also entertaining. Barr embraces the language and thought-processes you would expect to find in characters living in a backwoods town such as Tinker's Grove, without over-dramatics or theatrical dialogue distracting from the storyline.
This novel covers a multitude of timelines, but blends them seamlessly so as not to confuse the reader or dilute the main plot lines. I especially appreciated how Barr weaved in the legend of Madoc ab Gwynedd, an actual Welsh Prince of times past, into the story. By including a real historical figure, it grounded an otherwise fantastical story into something a bit more real. I also appreciated that Barr offers an explanation behind most of the more magical and mythical moments in the story. As a reader, when I can understand why something exists, no matter how unbelievable it seems, it further draws me into the realities of the characters.
Roan: The Tales of Conor Archer is an original and creative epic of a tale. Once you read the epilogue, you get a feel that we have not yet even scratched the surface as to what Barr has in store for Conor Archer and his fellow followers of the Light. Overall, I give the story 4 out of 4 stars.
If you enjoy George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones saga, I would recommend reading E.R. Barr's Roan:
The Tales of Conor Archer. Similar to Martin, Barr's writing style brings life to these deeply complex characters and their multi-dimensional relationships. While the stories are both fantastical and unbelievable, both authors string the various worlds and timelines together to create a cohesiveness while still maintaining a distance between the various plot points and story lines. Also, in both stories I felt, as a reader, a little betrayed by certain character deaths and could never truly figure out where everyone would be by the end of the story. I cannot wait for the next book in both series.