Two thousand years ago, the Born Queen defeated the Skasloi lords, freeing humans from the bitter yoke of slavery. But now monstrous creatures roam the land, and destinies become inextricably entangled in a drama of power and seduction. The king's woodsman, a rebellious girl, a young priest, a roguish adventurer, and a young man made suddenly into a knight all face malevolent forces that shake the foundations of the kingdom, even as the Briar King, legendary harbinger of death, awakens from his slumber.
At the heart of this many-layered tale is Anne Dare, youngest daughter of the royal family - upon whom the fate of her world may depend.
©2004 Gregory Keyes (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"Although The Briar King will suffer the inevitable comparison with George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, it should be said that Keyes's work is no mere rip-off. This is excellent world building, applied with a dark, powerful touch that should convince Martin fans to become Keyes fans, too." (Amazon.com review)
To be honest I expected more than the book managed to deliver. The title alone was enough to seduce me into purchasing The Briar King. But even with such a promising start it fell short. It took a good chunk of the first part to get the plot going and to be honest the first hundred pages felt like a really, really long prologue. After a while the plot and action picked up but it is difficult to care about an obnoxious character when you haven't been carried on by the momentum of the series of actions the said character makes, but rather feel like you are forced to read through a tedious introduction. The second part of the book redeems the snoozefest the first part is.
Overall, The Briar King has potential as a first book of series. Not quite original but not exactly a carbon copy of some previously published works of other authors
I would rate it 3,5 out of 5, mostly for the exquisitely worded paragraphs.
"Good Book One, But TERRIBLE SERIES!"
I almost gave this book 4 stars. It's not a bad book in itself, but when you take into account that it's a series of four total books; it's not a series worth starting. Trust me when I say that's it's not worth the trouble. I got sucked into a decent plot with intriguing characters, only to see the author throw them into a blender by book 3. I'm never much for giving detailed reviews, I just tell a little about what I thought about the book and the author. So I apologize if I'm not more detailed.
In short, I wouldn't recommend this book. Not because it's not a good single book. Because you'll want more and you'll get more with book two (the best out of the series) but then it's over with. It's like the author decided at the last minute to make a two book series into a four book series. And it shows. By the end of the series, your favorite characters change totally and become weird characters that you can no longer understand or relate to.
You might want to skip to first 40 minutes as too battle-gory and 2-dimensional, which is unfortunately part of the sample provided. Especially as you don't need it for the other 19 hours of story. After that, it gets good and follows several 3-dimensional characters, in an interesting plot with mystery, action, and humor. No graphic sex, graphic violence imagary is rare and you can actually follow the story after that first 40 min, good characterization and plot. I've listened to it twice and probably will again. They ought to drop the critic comment about ASOIF series because nothing compares to that and this is not at all trying to be a knock-off.
The narrator seemed well above average and not overly dramatic to me. He also manages to do female characters convincingly without sounding like a drag-queen and making my skin crawl, a mistake many male (and vice versa) narrators make. Most characters are given recognizable and voices matching their personality.
"Good Book, A Lot Going On"
This is a good story but slow to start. There are a lot of characters and lines of focus in the story. That is easy for me to follow when reading, took a little more in audiobook format. By the end of the book I was tied in and tracking.
The story does come together well, with several characters that I have become interested in. The knight guarding the queen, the priest, the scurvy swordsman. All were well done and made me interested in following them.
The narrator, Patrick Michael, does a wonderful job. He keeps the different characters believable and does a good job going between male and female voices. He also does a good job with the pace and inflection of the general narration of the story.
"Couldn't listen to more than 30 minutes."
This might be perectly fine to read in paper, but I found the narration of the audio version overly dramatic, sounding like very bad acting. It gave the feeling of listening to enthusiastic adolescents playing dungeons and dragons - it was impossible to suspend disbelief or to submerge into the story.
"Not a masterpiece"
The story is simple enough to follow even if you miss half of it. If you are planning to uncork a 50yo whisky, light a cuban cigar and sit down in your favorite chair to listen to a good book ... this is probably not for you. If you want something to listen to while commuting to work or doing tedious work at home this is perfect. It is like a McDonalds meal of fantasy.
"hi, I swallowed a thesaurus"
Its bad, couldnt get through it. The performance is way overdone and the writing is bad. I bought 3 of these and couldnt make it through 1. A more subtle reading might have got me further in, might have made it bareable, but the affected language together with the melodramatic performance was more than I could manage.
Hot tip of the day authors - good fantasy feels real when your in it. If you aint never heard someone say something like that - don't put those words in a character's mouth
After about 3 hours, I just couldn't take it any more. The narrator sounds like he's reading a children's book to a classroom of 3rd graders. Unfortunately, the story wasn't good enough to make up for it. The first 30 minutes or so were promising enough, despite the narrator, but it was just a prologue that didn't seem to have anything to do with the rest of the story. After that, it was boooorrring! In over 50 audiobooks, this is only the second one I couldn't finish.
"Well-meant, innocent butchery"
Greg Keyes has one of the freshest takes on a well-worn genre. His academic background provides a solid foundation for his exploration of the adventure epic, and it is nicely balanced by a deft talent for creating believable, sympathetic characters and engaging storylines, all delivered with a light, but most vivid touch. In print, his work is a delight.
So it is all the more disappointing then, when one is narrated so unsuccessfully. Patrick Michael is miscast here, and is simply not equal to the task of bringing the story to life. It begins with his tone, which is too light and airy, and fails to bring anything like the gravitas needed to convey the story's dark imagery.
Further, he clearly does not understand one of the novel's chief features, its exploration and play with the vagaries of language. The clearest example is his misreading the the Vitellian language as hispanic, when it is clearly Italianate in nature, and gives all those characters poorly rendered, uneven Spanish accents.
Finally, P. Michael mispronounces enough ordinary words that it's clear he has no idea what he's reading. The final impression is that he simply read through the novel and recorded it, without ever researching any unfamiliar terms.
If "golf is a good walk, spoiled," then this is a good story, butchered.
I had never heard of Greg Keyes before. Now I will never forget him. Great story and an outstanding performance by Patrick Michael. I sat in a parking lot, listening for the last hour because I could not pull myself away to complete my errands. The characters were very real and believable. Though I liked them all, I want very much to hang out with Cazio :)
I've enjoyed the story both ways but the audio version bring a different aspect to the story that reading does not give you.
Tad Williams, Memory Sorrow and Thorn. I think both series run a little under the radar and are overlooked, but each are amazing stories! I hope Tad's books will come to audiobook form soon.
Amazing story! Strong characters that have a lot of depth and personality. The books have interesting separate story lines that intertwine. Try it, I think you'll enjoy it!
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