Arriving in the royal city of Cynegil just after the good king's death, Liam and his traveling troupe face arrest for entertaining during a time of mourning. The new king, Riordan, offers them a choice: play for the court as he demands or be punished for the crime. With little recourse, they acquiesce. While the troupe entertains within the hall, Liam witnesses the dissension between the king and his twin brother, Shamus. When Shamus enlists Liam to record the kingdom's history from his own viewpoint, the king becomes suspicious. And when Liam becomes involved with Molly, the mysterious redheaded washerwoman, and Tristan, the royal soldier with a deadly secret and a skill for causing unfortunate accidents, his life becomes even more complicated. As the kingdom staggers beneath drought, famine, and conflict, Liam and Shamus must flee Cynegil with prices on their heads. Will they survive their journey or will they become just another ballad to be sung?
©2013 Marissa Ames (P)2014 Marissa Ames
It has everything you could possible want in a tale : Love, mystery, betrayal, heart stopping action sequences. Everyone should own this.
The world created by Marissa Ames contains characters that are multi-dimensional, in a world that is totally believable and it was easy for me to loose all sense of time whilst listening.
Matt brought the characters to life, his accents matching the visuals in my head perfectly. His voice had a soothing quality, and the subtle way he built tension allowed me to appreciate the story so much more than if I had only read it.
I can't pinpoint any one moment in the book that moved me as there are way too many to say, you'll just have to listen to it and find your own moments.
That would be impossible. The story, which I loved already from the ebook, is given such life by Matt Thurston that this listener experienced a myriad of emotions. Three words for such a resonating read? Can't be done.
It rather reminded me of Karen Maitland's 'Company of Liars', not because of any plot similarities, but rather due to a beautiful evocation of the worlds and the finely-drawn characters that inhabit it.
Molly. Truly remarkable work from Mr. Thurston in bringing to life quite a difficult, complex character.
No (although I did read the eBook in one massive go). Taken in one chunk, the exquisite nuance of Mr. Thurston's delivery would be dulled. It is far better to take a leisurely pace, and savour a voice that, according to my mother, caresses the ears.
Roll on Vassal, the next in the series!
"A Well Wrought Tapestry"
A gorgeously rendered tale of blackmail, intrigue, divided loyalties, gut instinct and hard-earned love. No shallow, swoony period piece this: Minstrel is a finely crafted story with complex, sympathetic characters who are as endearing as they are beautifully flawed. Their moral dilemmas, prejudices, shortcomings, inherent talents, and temperaments knit the plot into a solid, character-driven story that fascinates and entertains. The narration is also extraordinarily well done - I am a sucker for audiobooks where the narrator does all the voices, believably and clearly, with distinct tones for each; and this one most certainly delivers. All in all a well told tale. Would heartily recommend.
I adore the main character, Liam. Just simply adore him.
"A Ballad Well Worth Hearing"
Yes. The story is engaging, and the performance is top notch.
The characters. Ames does a wonderful job of creating complex and sympathetic people.
The narration is solid and the character work is excellent.
I laughed quite a bit. I will also admit to getting a bit misty at a couple of points.
This is a delightful novel, well written and performed. I fully recommend letting yourself get lost in Tir Athair for twelve hours or so.
"Quite a lovely experience"
They are both excellent. The audio edition had all of the flair that I could have asked for without the strain on my eyes though. Matt Thurston really sells these artfully written characters in a delightful way.
Definitely Fergal. Matt's female characters always bring a special something to the party. Tristan was my favorite male voice.
This book definitely kept me on my toes. I simply couldn't press pause. It was about as frustrating as watching the cringe-worthy struggles of Ross and Rachel without being able to do anything about it.
It is this sense of realistic character traits that make this tale an amazing one for me.
"Tired of bad fantasy? This will make you love it!"
I don't tend to like to many audiobooks. The narration is usually bland and flavorless and I find myself painting more vivid pictures of scenes and characters within my own mind. Narrators also trip over sentences that sound better in your head than they do when spoken. This is NOT the case with Minstrel. Extremely well-written and expertly narrated this title quickly reached the top of my audio library. The story is more than sound and the character portrayals are spot-on to what was in my head. Both elements come together beautifully.
This is Matt's best performance to date. I have followed him in other media; videos, narration, and podcasts where his well-intonated and enunciated speech clearly stood out from others. Finally something comes along where you can hear his voices and characters, and he can put personality to dialogue in his unique way.
At first I intended to listen to this in segments, during off times where I might have some free time. However, by the end of the first chapter you are caught in story and narration, and you just don't want to stop. It's long, but that didn't stop me.
This is only a sample of what is capable from independent authors and voice actors. Marissa Ames and Matt Thurston raise the bar and should inspire all of those who wish to create their own amazing stories.
"Great Audio Experience"
Minstrel was my first audible audio book and the opening music caught my attention. The story opens with street performers trying to capture an audience. Well, mine was captured by their witty rapport and lovable characters. I wasn't sure what to expect since this was my first Ames book, but my attention was captured by the gradual build of suspense and the authenticity of the setting. The suspense built so subtly and artistically that I didn't even realize how invested I was in the characters until I found myself craving time to get back to the book. When it was over (such a satisfying ending, though not what I expected) I craved more. Marissa Ames has a new reader and Thurston has a new fan. Me!
Ames' rich textures remind me of Anne McCaffrey's Pern series.
The narrator did such a fine job with his accents, I knew exactly who was speaking without a need for dialogue tags.
I was particularly moved by the relationship between the prince and the minstrel, and the fine line that was danced on by each one.
"Engaging Story in a Realistic Setting"
The narrator's ability to give personality to the various characters was believable and true to life. The interactions among the people were what I imagine life to be like at that time. The separation of class, the levels of power and abuse of that power, and the political nature of life at court. The story itself was clearly researched well and a believable depiction of life during that time.
Without spoiling anything, the portrayal of the ruling family and the splendid "grey areas" of their interactions and treatments towards each other.
I have listened to Matt Thurston before and he is very good at coaxing real life out of written word.
Yes! I found myself driving the long way to places so I would have more time to listen to it in the car.
After listening to this book, I am excited about the other books in this series and can't wait to see what Marissa Ames writes in the future.
"A Riveting Story"
A narrator makes or breaks a book, and in this case Matt Thurston performs it well. He really brings the characters to life. I thoroughly enjoyed listening!
Though labeled as "fantasy", Minstrel is significantly more than that. If it weren't for the fact that Ames' Celtic-inspired country exists only in her head, I would claim it as a historical romance. The painstaking research and attention to detail make Tir Athair as believable and realistic as medieval Britain or Ireland and it is such a delicious world to discover! An epic tale worthy of competing with King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table.
Narrator was engaging and the story was excellent.
I read the book before I listened to the audio version, but Thurston brought the characters to life more than my mind could. I loved that he made them feel even more real.
Extremely cool story and unlike most fantasy I read (where there are wizards and evil deities and so forth). I really enjoyed all the twists and secrecy and "ooooh" moments.
The characters are fresh and engaging and Thruston does a great job bringing them into the real world. Ames's story-telling is fantastic and I can't wait to get listen to book 2.
"History buffs will enjoy the details of this yarn"
Matt Thurston's voice acting fits this finely crafted tale perfectly, and brings to life the characters Ames' so carefully constructed (even the female characters). Matt's mastery of European accents adds to the experience and keeps one from simply listening to a narration of a tale and makes it as if you are actually listening to a conversation between the characters themselves.
Ames' knowledge of the old world really shines. As one who prides himself as a history buff, I really enjoyed the attention to detail that she displayed in keeping the reader tied into a world anchored in the real world atmosphere of the Renaissance period.
You won't be disappointed in the either the listening or the reading of this fine story.
"Adventure and love without being fluffy!"
Adventure, love, depth.
I did read part of the book but I kept stumbling over the different names, with Matt Thurston's great reading it brought out the beauty of the words and made them live.
No but I was quite riveted during parts of the book...just ask my kids...
I love a book with some good adventure without being gruesome and gory. This fit the bill, historical accuracy, believable characters and descriptive writing filled it out and made it more than just a fluff read. It started off ok (not too griping) but then once you get attached to the characters and your emotionally involved as the real action starts it becomes very gripping (so the first part took me way longer to read than the latter). I like to read multiple books at a time and at one point I snuck away and grabbed my book and started reading only to be disappointed that it was the other story and not this one that had been spinning around in my head as I made dinner. The only bummer is the wait for the next in the series...
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