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Summary

A young man with no past must progress into a warrior out of legend.

Cinder Shade’s life begins on a fateful afternoon at the bottom of a well where he awakens, bruised, battered, and bereft of all memory. His only understanding is a driving imperative to protect those who can’t defend themselves and become a warrior worthy of the name. 

He discovers within himself a peculiar gift, one in which the codes of combat are made evident and the language of steel is made clear.

When he earns a place at a prestigious elven warrior academy, Cinder fights to enhance his knowledge and perhaps even humble the proud elves who believe no human is their equal. His hard-earned skills are put to the test when strange rumblings emanate from deep in the Dagger Mountains. Monsters out of myth emerge. And so does something far worse... An ancient god. The world believes this deity long dead, but he is very much alive. And he remembers his enemies all too well. Even if they don’t remember themselves.

©2020 Davis Ashura (P)2020 Podium Audio

What listeners say about A Testament of Steel

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Loved this story

Having read the Outcasts trilogy I had high hopes for this new story . I was not disappointed !
I hadn't realised that the William Wilde books were so integral to this developing story line . I am going to read them next to bring me up to speed . That said , this book can stand alone . Though I do think that it would be more enjoyable to have read the Outcasts series first . The narrator is excellent as always . Thank you Nick for investing the characters with so much individuality and depth . Mr Ashura has yet again created a multi faceted world with characters you can love and loathe ! A sense of impending menace pervades the story . Bodes well for book 2 ! Which, can I have NOW PLEASE ! I don't want to wait .HURRY !!!Great start to a new series . Recommend !

1 person found this helpful

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Verdict Still Out

Not as good as outcastes, in my opinion, but Book 2 May be better; will wait and see.

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loved it

shame the 2nd book isn't out yet. hurry up and get it onto Audio!!!! kid with a rocky start betters himself and has goals for his future.

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Another great series to wet the appetite

Love this author and love how all the series are intawoven.. Next book please

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Great

very much enjoyed this. slightly slow to start and didn't really get in to its stride for the first third of the book. but it was worth the wait. Great read and eager for the next book

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I couldn't put it down

Simply amazing. Loved every minute of this book. A story that really shows what hard work can really do. Cant wait until the next one

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This book is worth hearing.

I was skeptical at fist, but this book still holds a lot of interesting narratives, the magic works on the Indian side of things and you don't see this often enough.
I really recommend the book to anyone who likes fantasy and i can only say to other people who were less than pleased, this is literally the first book in the series, give it a chance.

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well worth a listen

loved it story well told lot of highs and lows looking for to the next part

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really enjoyed it! When's the next instalment?

as Always this narrator is top notch, one of the reasons I purchased this book.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-01-21

Repetitive plot, terrible dialogue

I was intrigued by the rather high Audible and Good Reads ratings on this book, but after slogging through this book, I can say they are greatly exaggerated and leave me questioning the opinions of the people that gave it such rave reviews.

Probably worst of all, this book was incredibly repetitive. The protagonist would find himself in a new place, be harassed by bullies, train monotonously to get stronger, defeat said bullies, rinse and repeat. No joke, this formula is like...90 percent of the book. Complete with repetitive descriptions of fights in various tournaments. But here's the thing, all the really big fights, the ones that mattered where you really wanted to see the fight go down, the author DIDN'T show, only mentioned it in passing. Or if he did show them, they were anticlimactic as heck. The protagonist's main move was to slide to the side after being charged, anime style, and then disarm or incapacitate his opponent in a rapid strike.

It got old.

Furthermore, there was no real character development. The characters stayed the same throughout the book. No growth. No changes of heart or lessons learned. There was really very little to distinguish one character from another, save for a specific phrase they might constantly repeat like a punchline, or Nick Podehl's different vocal personifications. The characters were flat, stagnant, and one note. All of the antagonists were just mean-spirited, arrogant bullies with no real pathos or attempt to humanize/round out their personality.

Then there are the female characters of the book, all 2 of the them, both of which are of course hopelessly attracted to and in love with the protagonist. Other than their being his love interests, they serve no other purpose in the story, and have no agency of their own. The dialogue was extremely cringy, specifically the jokes and banter the protagonist attempted, especially when attempting to flirt. It was supposed to be funny, and I could tell the author wanted me to laugh, but it just fell so flat.

In general, the character dialogue was simplistic and extremely unrealistic. The protagonist's voice was the worst of all, he spoke the way a textbook reads.

Let's talk about the protagonist, Cinder. Other than the fact that he experiences absolutely zero growth and development, he was also all over the map, you can't get a sense for him. One second he was humble and modest, the next he was arrogant and cocky. One second he is inexperienced, the next he is wise and world-weary. He will be polite one moment, and then be boldly disrespectful another. He will act like he is tongue-tied and naive around women, and then he will strut and act like he's the ultimate ladies' man. He will bemoan his lack of physicality or martial skill, then he will be a seasoned warrior of no compare. He will think that he needs to be faithful to his romantic interest and feel bad about pursuing other women, and then he will shamelessly flirt and pursue other women.

In terms of tension, where was very little. As you progress through the story, you begin to realize that any obstacles in Cinder's way will soon be overcome by monotonous, repetitive training. And not only does he spend all day on the training grounds, he spends all night in the library. And when he's not practicing hours before dawn and after dusk, and when he's not reading every book in the library, he also plays the mandolin perfectly and has learned countless songs on it, from where or from who, the reader really has no idea.

Perhaps the most glaring fault was that the protagonist didn't really have any character flaws or faults. At all times, he has godly martial foresight, wisdom, discipline, humility, bravery, chivalry, cleverness, etc etc. He's a total Mary Sue. Also, the protagonist follows the rather trite plot of being a simple farmer boy who is actually the chosen one of prophecy who will show up to fight an ancient evil that resurfaces, and begins the story with amnesia.

It's so trope-laden.

Then there is the author's use of quite long and confusing words based on sanskrit, which even the protagonist complains about, saying they are so confusing and all the long and strange names are hard to keep clear and straight in his mind. Yet he continues to use them and peppers them throughout the story.

The magic system was convoluted, unexplained, and surfaced somewhat in detail only occasionally, and usually from the confusing perspective of another random POV character who did nothing to explain it.

Then there are the flashback interludes in the books, which occur out of nowhere, and show random scenes, before slamming the reader back into the current story with no reflection or explanation.

There is absolutely no reason that this book should be as long as it was. Almost nothing happened the entire book, except for the protagonist getting bullied, and then training, and then beating his bullies. There were no subplots, side stories, or real twists. Everything is a simple, straight line, completely telegraphed from the beginning of the book, and carried out with dull monotony.

The "tragic moments" are not really felt, both because the characters are forgettable and because the scenes and dialogue are laughable in their execution. Perhaps this book might amuse a young reader who is inexperienced with fantasy novels, but please don't waste your time or money on it. It reads like pedestrian fantasy fan fiction.

132 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Christopher
  • 16-11-20

This is a solid 4.5 audiobook.

But unfortunately Audible has a dumbed down rating system that doesn’t allow for nuance. Moreover they do an extremely poor job of communicating an effective rubric for listeners to rate the audiobooks... What criteria should there be for a 5 star rating?... for a 1 star rating?

How many one star reviews have you seen for books that are well edited and decently performed? How many 5 star ratings have you seen where the written review sites major flaws in the audiobook?

How many times have you purchased a 4.5 star audiobook with 100s of reviews whose sole editor was very obviously an animated paper clip?

...Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. A Testament of Steel is absolutely worth your credit. It’s definitely not necessary to read Davis Ashura’s preceding Castes and OutCastes series in order to enjoy this book and be able to follow the plot. That said, this book does take place in the same universe as CAOC and there will be quite a few confusing terms and references relating to events and characters from Ashura’s other books. I did find myself wanting to go back and re-read the earlier series to refresh my memory as these things popped up. In the end, it should be said that this book is not a direct sequel to the preceding CAOC, but many of the primary characters can be found in this book, and it IS in some sense a continuation of the preceding storyline. Although Ashura has done a good job of making this book able to stand on its own.

The writing and performance are as good as I’ve come to expect from Nick Podehl and Davis Ashura. The story and plot are engaging.

Was this among the most compelling listens I’ve come across?... probably no, but I feel that given the absolute goat-rope that the Audible ratings system has become, I can’t bring myself to penalize this book with a 4 star rating.

57 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Sailfish
  • 03-01-21

10 hours too long, story movement too slow

Davis Ashura writes good prose but his decision to cram as much exposition and world building into the novel worked against keeping the story moving at much above a snail's pace. He also included lengthy and repetitive lamentations and fever-dream allusions that after the first few times came across as filler more than character development. This is unfortunate since the story itself held excellent promise of having the rare elements to make it an epic series.

Regrettably, even the performance craftsmanship of Nick Podehl could not still me from pressing fast-forward about halfway through many chapters.

24 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Bryce O'Connor
  • 10-11-20

Brilliant. Seriously.

Davis Ashura ups his game on this. This is seriously on a whole different level from his previous works (which were already great), and Nick Podehl brings the HEAT.

Read it. Right now.

23 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Patrick
  • 04-12-20

Fantastic

A story where the main character isn't OP in the first 5 chapters…? So hard to find these days. This was a perfect balance of story, character development, world building, and accumulation of power. I realize Nick can salvage even the worst of stories, but this isn’t that. Not by a long shot. This was simply fantastic and a real pleasure to listen to. I EAGERLY await book 2, and hopefully it won’t take too long to reach Audible. Loved it.

P.S. You kill me at times with the suspense! I had my finger hovering above the skip forward button so many times, but out of respect for the story (and maybe to teach myself some patience), I listened to all the descriptives while waiting for a fight or key response. Well done…bastard… X-D Keep em’ coming!

13 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • William D. Worth
  • 28-11-20

Fragging INCREDIBLE!!!

Davis Ashura is an exceptional author. He has a very unique way of captivating my imagination, and because of this I purchased this title without taking a single glimpse at the publishers summary or listening to the available sample. Nick Podehl in turn is an equally brilliant narrator with the ability to bring to life the characters of the books he performs and to turn them into truly believable persons... Each with their very own personality. So believable in fact that I sometimes become overwrought with sadness when nearing the end of a book for fear of having to say goodbye to the characters that Nick has brought to life. Ashura and Podehl together form a team of impeccable standards and the stories they weave fill me with emotions and rock me to my core... So how excited do you think I was when I realized that A Testament of Steel is a prequel to my most beloved Audible series "The Castes and the OutCastes". As I had said... I purchased this title having knowing nothing about it except for its author and narrator. The moment I realized this most wonderful Easter egg, I literally jumped out of my seat and pumped my fist!

Just as in The Castes and the OutCastes, Ashura and Podehl never hold back... The amount of tension, excitement and on the edge of your seat moments in this book will astound you. If you have not read The Castes and the OutCastes, have no fear. You will still find this book enjoyable, but I assure you... Listening to or reading the prequel to this series will put you center stage into one of the most enjoyable experiences that I have ever had since joining Audible. The knowledge gained from The Castes and the OutCastes creates a tension so great... So enjoyable... That... That I literally have no words to explain it. Knowing what I know had me on the edge of seat waiting for a single moment to happen unlike any other. Not the day before Christmas as a kid or wondering what your 7th birthday was going to bring could compare to the feeling that this book gave me. The moment is always "almost" there so many times that I started to bite my nails again and I stopped biting my nails years ago. That "moment" that you are waiting for throughout the whole book is framed with wonderful characters so real and believable that I half expected myself to step outside my house and see them casually strolling down the street... I wanted to see them strolling down the street. Everyone of them is brought to life by Podehl in a way that only he can do, and he does it so well. I absolutely know that I am repeating myself in this review, but I can't help it... It's worth repeating. The book is beautiful and brilliant. Normally I have no trouble writing reviews, but with A Testament of Steel... Its so good that I actually feel that I can not write a review that would do it justice. Please... I pride myself on helping people. I am a people pleaser and I like to make people happy. Reading or listening to this book will make you happy. Especially if you have read The Castes and the OutCastes. The only thing bad about this book is that it is new and waiting for the sequel is going to be hard to say the least. This is the only thing bad that I can say about Audible as well... Waiting for the sequels and follow ups to the great books that Audible offers is a chore in and of itself.

11 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • JennyBunny
  • 14-02-21

Training, fighting, training

Love Nick and Podium Publishing so gave this book a try. Performance was wonderful as always but the content was....a little lacking for me. Story setup is great and hopefully the next one has more content. This felt like 16 hours of training, fighting, and more training then fighting.

9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jack L. Sharp
  • 22-01-21

I was disappointed

I feel this story had potential. Unfortunately, I was losing interest in the main character and his inconsistent ideals.
The main character's personality transformed from humble, to ambitious, to confident and to condescending. I'm a huge believer in confidence. But, the line between confidence and cocky is thin.
In my opinion, cockiness almost always leads to condescension. For me, once I felt that line was crossed, I wasn't interested in reading the rest of this book.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • ROD
  • 11-11-20

ABSOLUTELY FANTANSTIC!

THIS BOOK WAS ABSOLUTELY WORTH THE WAIT, NICK PODEHL, DID A SUPERB JOB NARRATING! I REALLY COULD NOT STOP LISTENING, I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO START OR HOW TO DESCRIBE, IF YOU HAVE LISTENED OR READ ANY OF DAVIS ASHURA’S OTHER BOOKS THEN YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH HIS WRITING AND THE LEVEL OF DETAIL AS WELL AS THE EMOTIONAL COMMITMENT. JUST READ OR LISTEN EVEN IF THIS IS A FIRST. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • david.d.L
  • 19-11-20

very enjoyable story

i liked this book an as normal Davis Ashura is good at writing a smooth moving story to keep you wanting more an always full of emotions. what is it about a boy who is called Cinder "sorry may of mispelled" an he wakes up one day with no memory an has club foot an a bad leg an decides he want to protect people since his parents were killed by a wolf so he starts his journey. this was the negative part for me somehow cinder outgrows his club foot an leg gets strong with no explanation on how it happen. he gos to a school to leran to be a warrior an becomes one of the top of his class were he gos to train with elves that are rude an sort of bullies toward him an his human friends so he trains hard to beat them in a tournament an he also makes friends with the dwarfs. an at the end they all learn that working together can help for the last battle.

6 people found this helpful