After people polluted the planet beyond recognition, the sky rocks came and reduced the world to rubble. Yet mankind refused to die, and the world was reborn. Welcome to the New West, where the Nature Laws rule.
1. Procreation is necessary, not optional
2. Women are a precious commodity
3. Harm the earth, lose your life
4. If it can eat you, it will
Welcome to the New West, where the Nature Laws dictate who lives and dies by the way they treat the land, carnivorous horses and blood trees are accepted mutations courtesy of the sky rocks, and the Impact Zone separates the earth-friendly territories of the West from a more sophisticated, steam-powered East. Women are rare commodities, living in extended families with more than one husband, and children are a necessity in a world where sterility is often the norm, not the exception. Life is full of challenge, romance and adventure. Something one courageous, wounded Amazon will find out first-hand.
Thais (Tay-iss) lost her mother, her queen, and most of her tribe at the hands of brutal foreigners, all while she enjoyed a respite from duty. But the young Amazon with vengeance in her heart refuses to lose anything else. She’ll bring back the queen’s stolen crown or die trying. Life in the Territories has its perils: the Nature Laws, carnivorous beasts, and treacherous men who survived the Time of Dying. One man in particular, a warrior in his own right, has an odd effect on her senses. She comes to desire him, to trust him, and she doesn’t like it. Men are good for war and breeding, neither of which Thais has time for, not when she’s so close to finding those responsible for the crown’s theft. In the course of her quest, Thais finds much more than atonement for her troubled past, but a pure and lasting love, if only she has the courage to accept it.
This blurb came from Goodreads.
**Possible trigger warning – violence towards women**
I am a long time Western fan and I also enjoy reading apocalyptic or post apocalyptic romances so when I read the partial blurb included in the review request and it involved words like Amazon Western and new world I had to accept the request. I have read several of Harte’s stories before in a variety of genres so I was very curious to see how this combination would play out. Once again I am glad that following my curiosity led me down a very interesting path.
Harte has created a setting that reminds me of some elements of C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy world, an alternate history earth, and a touch of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar. I happen to really enjoy both Friedman and Lackey so those hints were certainly enjoyed. This story takes place in the New West with some mentions of South America, back East, and countries beyond the ocean. The west is very nature-centric with strict rules regarding what technology, occupations, and lifestyles are acceptable. At least within registered towns that are administered by the United Territorial Offices. The Territorials are supposed to enforce the Nature Laws listed in the blurb above along with good order and discipline. Hinto is a bounty hunter trying to earn enough gold to pay for a trip back east so his ailing father has the possibility of finding a cure. He rides a carnivorous horse and has a few special qualities of his own that would make him a target of the Territorials if word ever got out. He is also a rather blunt man who does not hide from his desires but at the same time would never force himself on a woman because he respects them and their wishes. He first encountered Thais when she had a run-in with the targets of his latest hunt leaving him one person short on the overall bounty. They end up meeting again back in town so Hinto starts hitting on Thais thinking that she is familiar with the laws of the land and therefore agreeing to spend time with him in the local brothel. Thais is looking for someone and not for a sexual encounter. She thinks that the brothel madam will have some information so she agrees to head to the brothel with Hinto. I about died laughing with Hinto’s bewilderment and disappointment when Thais heads back to the madam leaving Hinto to do as he will, without her. The next morning their adventure really began.
Hinto was a lot of fun to get to know. He tended to be the strong silent Alpha type who struggled to understand Thais and her frame of reference. He is physically attracted to her but demonstrates over and over again that she can trust him regardless of the situation. I thought he hunted her quite effectively while tying himself up in the same snare. One of the things I loved about Hinto is that he was confident enough to trust Thais to handle what she said she could instead of rushing to protect the “little woman.” He also remained loyal to his friends and family doing what he could to improve their circumstances without compromising his moral standards. Hinto wasn’t perfect but his character grew as the story continued which just added to my enjoyment.
Thais was also entertaining. Early in her adventure with Hinto I was slightly worried that combination of her perpetual innocence and naivety was going to get on my nerves. Thankfully as Harte unfolded Thais’ back-story I understood how she just did not have a “western” frame of reference when it came to innuendoes or sexual knowledge beyond the extremely basic. Watching her discover that not all men were evil, greedy, and untrustworthy along with the enjoyment that can come with a man and a woman was very refreshing. She had very definite views but was also willing to learn about the New West. Even before Hinto gained her trust, she was willing to work with him and not strike off on her own avoiding the TSTL syndrome. Thais also did some serious emotional growth and recovery from the events of her past so she could enjoy her future.
Watching Hinto and Thais interact gave me several laughs as well as some touching moments. They both slowly came to trust each other and to shift from reluctant co-workers to friends/lovers to more. It took time for that relationship to develop which I loved because I was able to get to know them both individually and as a partnership, which added to the depth of the story. The trust between them was absolutely critical as they dealt with the combination of villains that Harte provided. I really liked that the evilness was spread through more than one person instead of being concentrated in a single individual because that kept the story complex. Speaking of complexity, I also enjoyed how things were resolved, at least the immediate issues for this story because I did not feel cheated with too easy a solution.
Harte has created a very interesting world with some complex rules. A few things seemed contradictory for example mining is a violation of the Nature Laws punishable by death yet the currency of choice is gold. I am still curious about all of the changes caused by the sky rocks and their impact on humans and earth. I am also interested in why some technology just disintegrates in the New West and not others. Hopefully Harte will continue to provide details about this world as the series continues. Even with my quibbles about things that seemed to not quite fit I enjoyed reading Tip of the Spear and I look forward to reading the next one.
I give Tip of the Spear a B.
Links to purchase
Kindle (Will be available on other platforms in a few months)