Pope Benignus is dying, and the man who takes his throne will hold the reins of an empire.
Conspiracies swirl like shadows around Livia, the pope's daughter, who refuses to be anyone's pawn: chasing the whispers of a deadly coup, she vows to expose the truth and save her church from disaster. Livia has secrets of her own, though, and one wrong move could cost her life and her soul.
Felix is the scion of a dying merchant house, a man with just one chance to save his family and the woman he loves. His last hope lies in the snowbound hell of Winter's Reach, a former prison colony turned "free city" under a brutal tyrant's reign.
Livia and Felix have never crossed paths, but they've both been snared in a far greater web than they can imagine. They - along with a pair of veteran bounty hunters, an exiled politician, and a sadistic coven of witches - are cogs in one man's apocalyptic plan for revenge. A plan that, if it succeeds, will leave an entire nation in flames.
©2014, 2015 Demimonde Books (P)2015 Demimonde Books
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"A solid story"
Her voice was pleasant to listen to and was a backdrop the story, which is good as it makes the experience more about the story than about the narrator.
Note: This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBlast dot com.
This book has a fairly large cast of characters, which makes it slightly difficult to listen to as an audiobook versus reading in print. Although I enjoy listening to audiobooks, I am very much a visual learner, so it took me a while before I was able to fully place each of the characters and remember from scene to scene who was who and how their stories were interconnected. (I probably should listed to the beginning again just to get the clarification once I got to know all the characters.) Therefore, I found that I really needed to concentrate on listening to the book to keep everything straight and follow along with the story, so you might want to keep that in mind depending on your own audiobook preferences (this obviously will matter less if you are reading the book in print--I don't think it's very confusing, so keeping the characters and details straight shouldn't be too much of a challenge).
The plot has a lot of politics involved, with different families plotting to gain power for their families or themselves as individuals. The church is also very much involved within the political scheme. A couple of characters do stand out from this plotting: Felix, whose actions are shaped by him wanting to save his family from downfall yet at the same time wanting to be with the woman he loves (and of whom his family does not approve); Amadeo, who serves the pope and seems to make choices that are much less self-serving than others--he truly seems to be the only really religious person in the mix; and Livia, the pope's daughter who finds a book that offers possibilities and danger.
The story is gritty. If you're looking for something happy and light, this is not the book for you. With the multiple points of view and the very real stakes the characters are playing for (not all of them make it out alive or unscathed), in many ways it resembles the Game of Thrones series. With lots of twists and turns, and especially toward the end as the many plot threads started to come together, it is a gripping story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. But if you find yourself fully invested in the story, you'd better have the next book (The Instruments of Control) available because all of the characters have been set up, ready for their action in the next book; very few story arcs are resolved (which is typical of this genre).
As for me, I enjoyed the book and am glad that I gave it a chance. And I will probably move forward with the series at some point, but for now I have a few other books that are calling to me that I'd like to read first. So since I am able to put this story and these characters aside for a while, as much as I liked the book, that means I'll give it 4/5 stars.
Narration - Susannah Jones - Fabulous!
Really an exceptional job of narrating a really artistically complicated book. Tons of characters - Terrific male voices, Terrific variety of female voices. Just really an exceptional storyteller and wonderful to listen to.
The Story? Loved it! I wasn't initially captivated by this book. The book is a little complicated. In fact, I really started getting into it, and then went back and started the book over after listening to three chapters because by then, I'd realized I wasn't paying enough attention and I knew I'd missed some things. When I re-listened to those beginning chapters, I enjoyed them more because by then I realized there was more than one story going on here.
I really enjoy books that have parallel story lines and you're wondering what's going on until suddenly it all comes clear how all these different stories are related. Well, this one is different. it's almost like you're reading three different books. There are ties, but they are complicated. So, with that said, this is the kind of book that you have to pay attention to. There is a lot going on and a lot of characters but it's a really interesting story. Parts made me angry and sad - it's got a little romance, some magic, a lot of mystery and a lot of struggle. And, I think I have a bit of a book hangover now.
Can't wait for the next one to come out in audio, and I'll definitely listen to this one again!
I received a copy of this audiobook free of charge from audiobookblast in exchange for an unbiased review.
"Introduction to Interesting Fantasy World"
I would, if I didn't have so many audiobooks to listen to as it is. It was entertaining and high tension and opens a wealth of characters and areas for the author to revisit.
I liked the breadth of the story with all the characters and the parts they play, and how eventually stuff ends up in the right situation.
She gave the characters voices and emotion that go beyond the page.
No, but there were a few moments when I felt the tension raise, which is about as much as I can expect. I know this is the beginning of a series so it's hard to expect any catharsis as much as raising action. It's why I'd consider returning to this fantasy world.
I received this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.
"Everyone has an enemy, or one desiring their items"
conspiracies, dangerous, desires
The writing draws the visual world in a magnificent poetry, this caught my attention at the opening of the book. This is echoed throughout the book, usually at the beginning of a chapter.
Everyone has an enemy, or one desiring what another has. There is always someone after another or another's material possessions. The different plots in the city by different people start to cross paths and collide as each person works for their own results. It seems the strongest of will and cunning will survive.
As in epic fantasy fashion, I'm left anxious for what's to come. Craig has drawn the world and characters to bring them all to this moment. Some are in precarious places and don't know it. Others are heading into a wind storm and don't know it. Some are expecting to create the wind storm. Oh I want to hear more of this world to see what happens with them all! Will the make it?
I would. Susannah is a gentle voice to listen to. She's done a lovely job with voicing the emotional rise and falls of the characters in the book and telling the tale of this world beaming with conspiracies. She doesn't do different voices for the many characters present, but she does pose different attitudes for each one. But she has told the story with heart. By the end of the book I felt I was sitting around a fire listening to an old tale, and wanting to hear more.
I would have loved to have been able to do this, but the 11 hours is hard to do. There are many details to the world and characters I would have loved to focus a whole day to hearing and noting.
All of these families are dangerous. They have desires and needs that they will do anything to get or keep in their favor. The lives of different groups of people heading in the same direction, though for different reasons. The political pull in the world is evident. Those with enough money and connections can make anything go their way. Everyone has their own motivators for their goals - love, guilt, lose - all the emotions pushing people to do more. The world not only has the evils of mans desires but also dangerous creatures and weather.
I did find myself curious about the Empire here. We didn't get much in way of past details of coming to power, nor the relationship the throne of the church has with the Empire's king. I'm hoping this history and current feel will come to light in future books.
Winter's Reach: The Revanche Cycle Volume 1 by Craig Schaefer is a good beginning of a series that kind of get's me thinking Game of thrones! Saying that is never something bad! it is still not a perfect fantasy, but gosh this get's close! With many twists and turns, and especially when we come to the end. The many plot threads comes together, but the cliffhanger again keeps it from getting full score!
Susannah Jones makes a good book, good with her narration! She can sometimes make you think you skipped something, because she does not really change her voice during the book. But all 11 hrs and 24 mins feels safe when you are with her, and i think she does a good job, just maybe a bit plain. Still, 4,2 out of 5 is not bad in my book!
I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via AudiobookBlast dot com
"Good, but...where have I read this before?"
I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would- I didn't know what I was getting into at first. (Reviewer copy, so I just download and jump in without reading the summary again to refresh my memory.)
This is listed as 'epic' fantasy. I think historical paranormal fiction is more apt. It is fantasy, but when I hear 'high' or 'epic' fantasy, I expect a little more than a scary monster or two with some witchcraft thrown in. The witchcraft feels very contrived in some places, as the author just got lazy rather than finding a feasible way to have have a character accomplish something or gain knowledge.
There are some major similarities between this book and a lot of other historical fiction (and in some cases, non-fiction) that I've read. I think that it's a nice homage when there is just a 'touch' of the feeling of another book...but this feels like they ripped entire sections from other books and changed all names and locations.
Something I did like- the characters themselves. I It takes a bit of time to learn who's who, but worthwhile.
With all of this being said, if you can look past the similarities between this and other books as well as the use of devices to ease transition, I would highly recommend it. It's a fun book and I look forward to the next one in the series.
I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review.
"Maybe better than Faust!"
The intensity and humanity of the characters.
It manages to strike an excellent balance between complexity and comprehensibilty. That's not an easy thing to do.
Mari Renault or Livia Serafini maybe? Hard to say.
Winter is here.
Schafer has a reputation as an urban fantasy author and I was introduced to his work through the Daniel Faust books, but I think this series may actually be better. I should have gotten around to reading them sooner.
"Great new series"
This was an exciting read, full of intrigue, espionage and betrayal. It covers nearly everything a person will and will not do for love, power or revenge. The narrator did an excellent job bringing all the characters to life. Can't wait to listen to the next book in the series.
"This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBlast dot com."
Pope Benignus is dying, and the man who takes his throne will hold the reins of an empire. Conspiracies swirl like shadows around Livia, the pope's daughter, who refuses to be anyone's pawn: chasing the whispers of a deadly coup, she vows to expose the truth and save her church from disaster. Livia has secrets of her own, though, and one wrong move could cost her life and her soul. Felix is the scion of a dying merchant house, a man with just one chance to save his family and the woman he loves. His last hope lies in the snowbound hell of Winter's Reach, a former prison colony turned "free city" under a brutal tyrant's reign. Livia and Felix have never crossed paths, but they've both been snared in a far greater web than they can imagine. They - along with a pair of veteran bounty hunters, an exiled politician, and a sadistic coven of witches - are cogs in one man's apocalyptic plan for revenge. A plan that, if it succeeds, will leave an entire nation in flames.
Truly fine fantasy fiction requires many elements. World building is one of the most important, because in Fantasy fiction, the emphasis is as much on the Universe the author creates as it is on the story being told. Such authors as Stephen A. Donaldson, with is Land, George R. R. Martin with his intricate world in A Song of Ice and Fire, and Stephen King in his Dark Tower series have set the bar for our expectations of world building extremely high. It is no longer enough to take a historical period or a mythological work and simply reproduce it, with cosmetic changes. This reader, at least sees through them quickly, and shoddy world building can ruin any fantasy especially epic fantasy, no matter how good other elements are. The world building in this book is generic, derivative and lacking in creativity or originality. It took me less than 3 chapters to recognize the historical inspiration, and the mixing of the history of the Medieval Church with the military conquests of the Ancient Roman Empire didn’t produce anything unique or interesting. Even the names of the countries were easily recognizable, and the cosmetic changes to the State religion were very nearly transparent. I finished this book primarily because of a few of the characters, who were of some interest, and because the presentation of Machiavellian political conspiracies held enough interest for me to see how well the author managed them. In that respect, this author did a good job, but intricate political plots can be handled effectively in almost any fictional genre. I cannot recommend this book to anyone who enjoys really good fantasy, because I think it will prove a disappointment, as it did to me.
The narrator did a very competent job, and showed skill especially in making each character (and there is a very large cast of them) unique, without using obvious pitch changes with her voice. Instead, she used tone and inflection to excellent effect, and one of her characters, the Mayor of Winter’s Reach, was stunningly perfect and absolutely chilling.
I must give this book 2 out of 5 stars, and the narrator 4 out of 5 stars.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased review via AudioBookBlast dot com.
"I was provided this audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review via AudiobookBlast dot com".
I absolutely loved the book it was wonderful.
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