My name is Zabdas: once a slave; now a warrior, grandfather and servant. I call Syria home. I shall tell you the story of my Zenobia: Warrior Queen of Palmyra, Protector of the East, Conqueror of Desert Lands ...
The Roman Empire is close to collapse. Odenathus of Palmyra holds the Syrian frontier and its vital trade routes against Persian invasion. A client king in a forgotten land, starved of reinforcements, Odenathus calls upon an old friend, Julius, to face an older enemy: the Tanukh.
Julius believes Syria should break free of Rome and declare independence. But his daughter's beliefs are stronger still. Zenobia is determined to realise her father's dream.
And turn traitor to Rome ...
©2014 JD Smith (P)2014 JD Smith
Loyalty, courage, character
Zabdas - his older and younger selves are both equally well drawn. And Bamdad because he has a rough manner but a soft heart. And Zenobia, of course, for her wit and passion. And Julius, for his noble mission.
The distinct but not exaggerated way he represented each character and paced the battle scenes so well
When Zabdas first met Julius.
The book, the story, the voice transported me far away from a frosty drive through a snow-covered forest and into the ancient deserts of Syria. So much so, I parked up round the corner from my destination and listened till the end.
I've only recently started listening to more historical fiction on audio, and have to say I think the genre benefits from some brilliant narrators who transport you to a far flung world. Definitely in my top three.
Zabdas's whole story from the slums of the docks and his dramatic rescue - to his position beside Zenobia. I love how the author has given us two perspectives on his story - retelling it to his granddaughter, Samira, as an older man and also allowing us to relive the key scenes for ourselves. Although this story is about the rise of Zenobia, I love seeing it through Zabdas's eyes.
Perfect characterisation. The voices are authentic and natural and fit the characters. I particularly liked his interpretation of Bamdad who is a brilliant creation!
I loved all of the battle scenes, the terror and passion and fear of the people came through. There were some wonderfully amusing moments too - Bamdad in particular has a brilliant dry wit. To be honest, I loved it all, and it ended far too soon.
Audio really takes this novel to another level for me. A talented author + a talented narrator is a match made in heaven and I can't wait to hear the next in the series.
"Bringing the past to life through audio"
I have read and loved the print version of this book also, and have to say the audio adaptation really took the story to another level. I think the narrator did a brilliant job with the characters. The voices were just as I had imagined them in my head. And listening to the book, rather than reading it, seemed to transport me to the location.
Bamdad! The voice was wonderful, and although he was probably my favourite character when I read the book, I was delighted with the narrator's handling of him. Brilliant!
I think because for me you listen to longer spells of the story - maybe in the car or on a train journey - than I would if I read - you become much more involved and immersed in the story. The characters become real. I do feel with this kind of historical fiction, audio is a fantastic choice.
I laughed at a lot of Bamdad's parts!
Can't recommend this highly enough, the marriage of a talented writer and equally talented narrator has resulted in a real joy here.
"PALMYRA !!!! and Rome….. and even the Persians..."
This is marvelous historical fiction. Highly recommended for history buffs, not to mention those of us who never got to see Palmyra before ISIS reduced her ruins to total rubble. I must add that in addition to loving the writing, I enjoyed the narrator very much, and the only reason he didn't get a 5 instead of a 4 is because of the Scottish accent he used for a Syrian. Otherwise, a truly grand listen.
"Fascinating, entertaining, & educational!"
Zabdas tells us his story, that which is closely entwined with his relative, Zenobia. Palmyra, the jewel of Syria, is ruled by Odenanthus, a client king of the Roman empire. While he guards the frontier from the Persians, Rome refuses to send additional aid. Zenobia and her father, Julius Zenobius, feel it is time for Syria to stand on it’s own.
This is an exceptionally engaging historical fiction. Zabdas’s story was exciting, full of his own plight (going from slave to warrior), strained family relations, and the politics between Rome and Palmyra. His tale is told in a back and forth manner, his present day where he is a grandfather and a respected, aged warrior, and his past told through a memoir he is writing and his granddaughter is reading. I found it fascinating to see the young, unsure Zabdas versus the confident, aged warrior.
Before reading this book, I knew little of the Palmyrene Empire (I could spell it and I knew Palmyra was Syrian) and even less about Zenobia. I had no problems getting caught up in the story and learning as I went. The reader does not have to be versed in the times or area to follow this tale. It was delightfully educational.
Zabdas’s uncle, Julius is an interesting figure, being polite and gentile but also knowing when to be a bit cutthroat. He also has his fair share of secrets. So does his daughter, Zenobia. She is regal in her bearing, but also strong-willed. Various male leaders have a hard time tossing her out of meetings without looking the fool. She keeps her personal political agenda close to her chest until near the end of the book. Since we don’t get to spend time in her head, we must guess her motives, as Zabdas does.
I enjoyed every minute of this book and had a hard time putting it down, like for a few hours of necessary sleep. I am very much hoping Book 2 comes to audio.
The Narration: Paul Hodgson was the perfect fit for Zabdas. He did a great job switching back and forth from the unsure youthful Zabdas to the seasoned war veteran Zabdas. There are only a handful of female characters in this book, it being of a small cast. Hodgson had a nice female voice, but I found that all the ladies sounded alike. If two were talking together, I had to pay close attention most of the time to follow who was talking. Hodgson had a variety of accents that added to the over all flavor of the book.
really good story but the transition between characters was dificult to follow at the begining. looking forward to the second book.
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