Raised and trained in seclusion at a secret fortress on the edge of the northern wilds of the Kingdom of Ashai, a young warrior called Rezkin is unexpectedly thrust into the outworld when a terrible battle destroys all that he knows. With no understanding of his life's purpose and armed with masterful weapons mysteriously bestowed upon him by a dead king, Rezkin must travel across Ashai to find the one man who may hold the clues to his very existence.
Determined to adhere to his last orders, Rezkin extends his protection to an unlikely assortment of individuals he meets along the way, often leading to humorous and poignant incidents.
As if pursuing an elite warrior across a kingdom, figuring out who he is and why everyone he knows is dead, and attempting to find these so-called friends and protect them is not enough, strange things are happening in the kingdom. New dangers begin to arise that threaten not only Rezkin and his friends, but possibly everyone in Ashai.
This is the first installment of an ongoing series. This book is intended for adult readers. It contains graphic violence, creative language, and sexual innuendo. This book does not contain explicit sexual content.
©2015 Kel Kade (P)2016 Podium Publishing
I've read reviews for other stories, were the reviewer will complain that the protagonist is too string and perfect, but in this case it's the whole point of the story and is so blatant, it's brilliant.
Many books in this genre have a very similar story line; young man suffers tragedy, then goes to train with masters, comes back to kick some butt. This one has a refreshing angle; our guy is already kicking butt by hour number 3-ish.
The pace of the book is excellent there are no points where the story drifts into nothingness for a while, but keeps going on string with action around every corner. There is however only one story line, making the book easier to follow if you're the type to be listening to books while engaged doing this else.
I think if you're into books that world build for hours with incredibly well drawn out characters (a-la Joe Abercrombie), this isn't it; but it is well written and has (so far) an excellent story with an original twist.
It's seems to be getting more difficult to find good books in this genre; of course it's all personal preference, but similar-ish stories that I consider good recently are (hopefuly can help someone also looking);
Dawn of Wonder
Cycle of Arawn/Galande
Not particularly. It's okay as a teenage boy fantasy of wanting to be a demi-god in a world populated by whiny voiced females, but unlike the intended character of the main protagonist, definitely not dark and deeply satisfying.
A long wait for not very much.
Average. Reasonable male voice characterisation badly let down by female. Even stronger female characters had an air-head whine to them.
Well, I thought about Rezkin but went off to get some coffee as it did a better job of raising my pulse rate.
It's an okay background listen and probably more suitable in the young-adult genre.
This book did entertain me, but it comes with some big flaws. A big mystery the author dangles in front of our noses is a strong incentive to keep on reading, and who doesn't like a person who gets things done?
However, if the protagonist is perfect, things can grow too unrealistic even for a fantasy book. Rezkin, despite having grown up in seclusion, takes over significant parts of society within days of becoming part of it. He is, however, surprisingly dimwitted when dealing with his 'friends'. This is a useful comic counter-balance to his otherwise perfect appearance at first, but it does grow tedious after a while.
Oh yes, and perhaps crucial in a modern fantasy novel that really should overcome traditional stereotypes of the genre: all women are stark stupid - eager to jump into bed with the protagonist and willing to fight one another over it. Literally. Bechdel test? -Failed big time.
To be perfectly honest I expected a lot more of this book after reading some of the glowing reviews.
It’s very well read and the characterisation is definitely well above average but the story just seems to plod along at steady pace with the occasional Americanism (a pet hate of mine) thrown in (is ‘jerk’ an acceptable term in a land of sorcery and fantasy?) to bring a cringe worthy brake to the flow of the story as well.
I have already bought the second volume (bought both at the same time) and I can only hope it’s a better story than this first outing.
If like me you were hopefully expecting something remotely close to ‘Dawn of Wonder’ or ‘The Name of The Wind’ you will most likely be a tad disappointed.
This is a very strange book. Normally a fantasy story follows the premise of a hero overcoming difficult enemies or obstacles. Not here, here the main character(Rezkin) is effectively a god, capable of inhuman feats on a regular basis and without much effort. This is unusual because author could be in danger of making a boring story as there is no risk to any of his actions nor does the author impose any restrictions on the character. The story is purely driven of the fact that Rezkin does not know who or what he is . And while there is enough clues that allow you to have a good idea it did manage to keep me engaged all the way through .
The great appeal of this book for me is that it is very easy to listen to, which I found a refreshing turn of pace considering the shift in fantasy to a more dark and bleak style over the last 7-8 years in particular. If you are able to disconnect yourself from the ubsurd premise and enjoy the well paced story ( really it's probably the best paced book I have read) it is really good fun. If you are unable to disconnect then I can freely accept that you may detest it.
As for the next book. It appears to be getting released in October of this year and I can't wait.
Fun, distinctive and covetous!
Rezkin - I really enjoyed his thought process about every day occurrences, which caused me on occasion to smile and laugh to myself. As a guy, I got pretty envious of his perfection, which is weird considering he's a fictional character, but that shows how much I enjoyed the book.
I believe it's the first time I've listened to Nick's narration, and believe he is stellar in his performance of the various characters.
Pretty much, and that's a rarity. I was staying up later than usual and listening to it during every spare moment.
The only qualm I have is with Rezkin's love interest, which I can sometimes find a bit annoying and too much.
Other than that, buy it, read it, listen to it.
Excellent storyline, and the second book also did not disappoint.
Some other reviewers question the feasibility of the skills of the main character due to his sheltered upbringing. However it is fiction and I personally enjoy the fact he is successful in just about anything he does. I feel it gives a feel good factor. He is much more enjoyable than some characters in other books where nothing ever goes right for them.
This audiobook is an easy and very enjoyable listen. Well done.
I couldn't stop listening. There was absolutely nothing I didn't like. The narrator is outstanding by adapting the voice to the character.
The story it is well explained, the build up to it really good. The attention to details exceptional. There was not a single moment I felt it was boring. If you like fantasy, warriors and martial arts this is a must read. I cant wait to start the 2nd book.
The story is filled with ridiculous, unrealistic characters. The premise; a perfect, beautiful man trained in every skill imaginable under mysterious conditions is clichéd but on the surface I didn't mind - it's a bit of "blockbuster" fun. What ruins the story is that the vehicle for it is a ridiculous friend and girlfriend drama which plays out like Twilight.The women are the most offensive; every one of them is a whiny, dramatic, jealous, fawning simpleton. A considerable part of the book is about silly dramas and gawking at rippling muscles. Rezkin decides to attach himself to the most abhorrent one of these individuals and they somehow become girlfriend/boyfriend despite a lack of chemistry, depth, sex etc. And there is a painful drama with her disapproving uncle, which descends into out-of-character bickering between the two.The most fun in the book are the occasions where Rezkin goes on escapades and deals with thieves and assassins - his asperges nature comes out and the juxtaposition of his calm demeanour, violence, and awesome skills are fun when coming into contact with "normal" people.The story would have been a lot more enjoyable if it played out more like the film The Accountant, rather than trying to develop his human side in a sexless Pride and Prejudice, wince-worthy drama.
Frankly the voice acting is too over the top for me, a lot of the characters sound like dramatic, impetuous children, and the women sound like whiny transvestites. Admittedly part of this is the ridiculous characters and terrible dialogue. The english/scottish accents weren't too bad for an American, by no means perfect but that didn't bother me much.
A superb story which centres upon Rezkin, a child with no surname brought up in a Fortress and trained in all the arts of fighting by a mysterious cult like society.
As he reaches adulthood he faces the outside world for the first time.
For me, this is the books most interesting aspect. The clash of his strictly adhered to code versus the perceived vagaries of the 'out landers' behaviour. In many ways he is like an alien thrust amongst the human race, and is repeatedly confused by their thought processes & choices.
I will say no more on the plot as I do not wish to be a 'spoiler'.
One last thing, the narrator is American but quite superbly grasps various British dialects. A massive rarity in itself!
One of his characters did make me think 'Mish Moneypenny' rather a lot though. Listen to it& see if you recognise what I'm talking about!
Overall, a classic of this genre & highly recommended (by me anyway).
"great narration, frustrating writing"
The main character is essentially perfect. He has been trained so he can do everything and do it better than everyone else. He never does anything wrong. He has no flaws except being un-used to common society but even then is still perfect in all of his interactions. Every man wants to be him, and every woman wants to be with him. It's the literary equivalent of playing a videogame with "god mode" on and unfortunately makes for a very boring read after a while.The writing is repetitive. I honestly lost count how many times the main character is called "The young ______ " with some added descriptor like "warrior" "man" "assassin". In addition, the main character "easily does ______" with almost every action. An example of this would be a scenario like "The young warrior EASILY disarmed the man", which once in a while wouldn't be so bad but I feel like I heard it almost once every 5 minutes.
I think the premise and overall plot is somewhat interesting and will consider giving the author another try later.
He does ALL of them exceptionally well.
"Started strong, went nowhere"
The narrator is the best in the business; Nick Podehl's narration can strengthen and breathe life into an otherwise weak story, and this book is a great illustration of that part of his skill.
The main character Rezkin is pretty much a composite of Wesley from The Princess Bride mixed with a Chuck Norris joke. Rezkin knows everything, he's more powerful than twenty men combined, he sweats justice, his tears cure cancer/but he never cries. When the author wanted him to be socially naive (about women) he was. When the author wanted him to be a keenly discerning judge of human character and social situations, he was that instead. All the women in the story were charmless, dimwitted, sobbing helpless victims who needed Rezkin's protection and every single woman (and some of the men) immediately fell in love with him from their first glance. All the men in the story were similarly dimwitted weaklings who were jealous of him and bowed down to him if their job in the story wasn't to be killed by him.
In the beginning it was kind of funny - Nick Podehl's narration almost made it sound like at some point we'd get a wink and a laugh about this, but it never happens. At once point Our Hero had broken his leg and the narration went something like, "The river was far too dangerous and impossible to swim across - so Rezkin swam across it anyway with his broken leg trailing behind him" It goes like that a lot.
The story starts out interesting, gets ridiculous but is still enjoyable, gets even more absurdly overblown but is still enjoyable because of all the action, and then stalls out 2/3 through when we get to the house of the Uncle of one of the side characters. (Nick Podehl narrates the character of the Uncle as a pitch perfect Sean Connery!!! This kept me listening to it when I really, really wanted to fast forward the story line.) The characters stay there forever, nothing happens, descriptions abound of various characters drinking tea and feeling socially uncomfortable (except Rezkin, who is never uncomfortable) in the formal living room. Hours of this. It's like listening to music on hold.
Anyway, it finishes in line with a set-up for Book 2. I bought both at the same time and regretted buying the second while listening to the first, but I'll give Book 2 a go because Nick Podehl could make my shopping list interesting, and I hate skipping a book he's got so many good character voices in. I wish he had better characters to work with, but his performance is exceptional.
"Reader Beware: Worn Out Tropes Abound"
I was a bit surprised with what I found, given the many glowing reviews of this book. I listened to the whole thing, which is rare for books I don't like much, so I thought I'd offer a different perspective. This review contains some minor spoilers.
The protagonist of this book is the complete Mary Sue package. At 19 years old, he can fight better than anyone, is a master of stealth and subterfuge, is a brilliant scholar in history, a doctor, and has a detailed knowledge of all intrigue and current events. Oh, and nearly every woman he meets is so smitten with his impossibly good looks, they find it very difficult to function. Despite this, the Macguffin used to drive the plot is the fact that he can't figure out what the word "friend" means. Not in a metaphorical sense, but literally.
The author's female characters are something you'd expect out of speculative fiction written 50 years ago. In one scene, two of the main characters get into a catfight (over who gets to woo the protagonist, naturally). The author tells us that possibly due to their "basic female nature", they fail to remember any of their training and just brawl it out (naked while bathing, of course). Female characters who aren't taken in by the protagonist's charms are usually cast as fallen women or Jezebels. The protagonist elevates them or puts them in their place accordingly.
The pacing in the book is good, and Nick Podehl is a great narrator.
The cover art, taken along with some of the reviews, may lead you to believe this book is gritty fantasy like Abercrombie, Lynch, or Martin. It's not. It's much closer in tone to someone like Scott Meyer, albeit with a bit more violence. If that sounds appealing to you, and you don't mind some of the well-worn tropes, you may enjoy it.
"Wow!! This book..."
I really want to write a review to do it justice. I can't express how much I love Rezkin and his adventures in the 'outworld'. Watching Rez shift from being totally isolated all his life in brutal training to being thrust into the populous is touching and often times comical. There is tons of action, a minor magic system and a bit of romance on the side.
I am a huge fan of Anthony Ryan, Michael J. Sullivan and Patrick Rothfuss. If you like these authors, you should really give this book a try. It is a great addition to the genre of epic fantasy.
Nick as narrator, as usual, is brilliant and truly brings the characters to life.
"Nick Podehl kicks this great book up a notch!"
I read this book shortly after it came out and greedily jumped into book 2 afterwards. It is a great book! Funny, smart and an all around great read.
I have followed Nick Podehl's narrating for some time now. He has a great voice and a strong grasp of the characters in anything he reads.
This book, with Nick's voice-overs and timing, really kicks it up to the next level of enjoyment! Nick seems to have only improved and increased his repertoire of voices and it makes the listening to this wonderful story enjoyable beyond anything I have heard before.
"Perfect Hero Worship Does Not a Perfect Story Make"
The hero of this story is far too flawless to make this story interesting. There cannot be tension if your protagonist has already met any and all challenges, and this protagonist has done just that. Even decent narration could not salvage this mess.
"Enjoyable performance yet juvenile plot"
I can't say that I managed to create much of a bond to the protagonist of this story. As while he is perfect in every way, he somehow lacks the ability to interact with others in some of the most simple of ways.
The contrast is too polarised in my opinion and leaves me feeling more like an observer of the story's events than someone actually rooting for character in particular.
The writing was juvenile. The author uses every fantasy cliche. The women characters are idiotic and annoying. The lead character is invincible and very handsome and ultimately stupidly can't figure out what friends are.
"My god this book is bad"
I am apparently one of the few who disliked this book! A poorly written romance novel, set in the fantasy genre...
The story arc for the series is as subtle as a bus hiring you. Hmm he couldn't be a lost son of the former king who will take the kingdom of evil hands could he? (Not a spoiler.. this book doesn't go that far... It's just so blatant by what the baseball-bat-to-the-head-subtle "hints" the author leaves everywhere).
The main character, Rezkin, is a super-human "ninja" with chiseled muscles and dashing good looks. He has the intelligence to form "brilliant" arguments solving history's lost mysteries from thousand-year-old texts, psychologically manipulate criminal organizations in multiple cities on a whim, and has mastery over every skill imaginable. His one failing? He... cannot ...grasp... the... complexities... of... the... word "friend" or "girlfriend" (I did mention he has a mastery of psychology and psychological manipulation right)? I understand the attempt at humor... But it makes no sense! My other issue with Rezkin, besides having the interpersonal skills of a mental midget...he is PERFECT. He literally doesn't fail, struggle or even break a sweat doing a single thing throughout the entire book! How do you build suspense with your readers if every outcome is a foregone conclusion?
All other characters have personalities that are flat as a board. Let's see there is the smitten girl who's internal dialogue is pretty much "she flushed with embarrassment after fantasizing about Rezkin's rippling muscles". Her puppy dog friend who has no opinions, the jealous female companion, the angry uncle. There is literally no depth to any character.
It's not worth going further... Book done, cross this author/series off any future download and move on.
"Played safe and too typical"
No, but it shows that the writers are aiming at a particular demographic for sales
Nick Podehl is flawless. Of 2 dozen favorite narrators, he breaks the top 5.
I wanted to like it but it just wasn't risky enough. Everything has been done before in this book elsewhere, it was also at times aimed at a younger female audience which stole from the main protagonist's badass character.
This could have been a great assassin story with vivid imagery but the characters are forgettable and loathsome at times. The cringe factor is too real as an adult reader/listener. Nick Podehl carried this book along for me, and without him narrating I would have put it down alot sooner.
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