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Summary

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

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good story overall

Very good narration, good story if a little slow during the middle. Tends to focus more on dialogue and has a little less action that I would have liked. Also names of guilds a little uninventive but nevertheless, would recommend!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Refreshingly excellent!

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
Licanius Trilogy
Cycle of Arawn/Galande

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Kel Kade's debut, and what a start it is!

If you could sum up Free the Darkness in three words, what would they be?

Fun, distinctive and covetous!

Who was your favorite character and why?

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.

What about Nick Podehl’s performance did you like?

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.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Pretty much, and that's a rarity. I was staying up later than usual and listening to it during every spare moment.

Any additional comments?

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Kings Daft Tidings

I have to doff my hat to Kel Kade, I really do! Looking at the fabulously large number of high ratings these books are getting it's undeniable that people are simply lapping them up. For someone likes me who puts the likes of Sanderson and Abercrombie with their hugely detailed worlds and finely crafted characters it just shouldn't work though.

The main character is stupidly unrealistic. Rezkin is a young lad brought up as an orphan by en elite team of mentors and warrior-trainers isolated from the rest of society this much is true. However, the resulting mix of Spock, a fantasy ninja, High Ambassador and the man from the Milk Tray adverts is breathtakingly unreal. His achievements within days are mind boggling as is the utter fawning weakness of much of the surrounding cast. He reaps and charms his enemies like the Fellowship of the Ring on acid.

Nick Podehl plows his way through it with considerable aplomb and never once gives the hint that his mind is screaming at the text with its sheer implausibility. He injects excitement even though Rezkin just seems untouchable.

And, really that's the magic of course, it's just gloriously absurd! Naturally this means that someone like me who prides himself in liking more serious or at least more logically constructed fantasy would not be seen dead giving it a high rating and it's beyond doubt that I would not even consider carrying on with the rest of the series. I really won't, honest . . . in fact tomorrow I'll return this one . . . yes I will . . . tomorrow.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

16 hours I'll never get back...

Any additional comments?

Lots of 5 star reviews with an interesting premise so thought I'd give it a punt...

... and what a complete pile of bilge it turned out to be!

A flawless demigod of a protagonist who quite frankly I couldn't care less about after the 1st few chapters. One-dimensional, completely forgettable supporting cast, vacuous female characters who's entire existence appears to be to faun all over the lead.

The writing style was juvenile, clumsy and utterly cringe worthy in places. By half way through the repetitive phrases like 'the young warrior' and 'cocked his head' were driving me to distraction.

Nick Podehl does a passable job but some laughable English accents and mispronunciations did take the gloss off somewhat. I can only imagine that those giving the performance 5 stars haven't listened to a book narrated by the likes of Steven Pacey, Rupert Degas or Stephen Fry.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A solid start

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.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Ho hum

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

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.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

A long wait for not very much.

What three words best describe Nick Podehl’s voice?

Average. Reasonable male voice characterisation badly let down by female. Even stronger female characters had an air-head whine to them.

Did Free the Darkness inspire you to do anything?

Well, I thought about Rezkin but went off to get some coffee as it did a better job of raising my pulse rate.

Any additional comments?

It's an okay background listen and probably more suitable in the young-adult genre.

7 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Avid fantasy reader - couldn't make it through

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

To me this story is too heavy, you have to fight through details that are given where they are not needed to get the story to continue and you are constantly asking why the story is so flat. It bounces from one idea to the next without giving a real plot and fills the space with more needless detail.

What could Kel Kade have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

A more relatable or empathy inciting main character and a clearer story line. I got 6 hours in and was bored.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

The voices were generally ok but it was a little bland, and I can't tell if that was the writings fault or not.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Free the Darkness?

Too many to list.....

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Surprisingly entertaining, but...

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.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

love this book

love this book ir has it all story gets better in b2 just as good as name of the wind

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • G. Hirsch
  • 06-07-17

A level 100 fighter beats up all the noobs

In this game a level 100 fighter named Rezkin goes to the book area called Ashai and beats up everyone.

He also happens to be a level 100 healer, level 100 thief, level 100 diplomat and gets everyone to do what he wants.

I'm not sure what keepse.going in this book. All I can think if is that the narrator Nick Podehl is so good.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Gerry
  • 03-02-18

Nonsense

We are supposed to believe that a child raised in obscurity without cultural influence that, at the age of 19, doesn't know what the word friend means is so easily manipulated into blindly following two 'friends'... also has the instantaneous planning and depth of knowledge to take over the criminal underworld on a whim.

The characters seem interesting, and the narration was excellent, but the story is unbelievable.

Better story editing and criticism would have improved the book greatly.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • cody king
  • 19-09-17

Not completely horrible. . .

There are many books that are either good or horrible. This book however fit into a very unfortunate middle ground. While parts of it were quite interesting, that amounted to an overall small percentage of the book. Let me explain:

In the beginning of the book we are introduced to Rezkin, an incredibly overpowered killer who has been raised away from the world. The very first plot point is that he is released into the world with unclear objectives, except he is mistakenly told that the two rules above all rules are to protect and honor his friends and to kill with conscience. So this hardcore killer now has to find friends and honor them, all the while hunting down the last man who managed to escape him. The is could have had great potential for a growing character and hilarious interactions, unfortunately this was not the case.

1. Rezkin has no character flaws. He is a better thief than the thieves , a better warrior than the warriors, and more honorable than the most honorable general. His character flaws is supposed to be his utter lack of knowledge in social matters, but he is made to be so completely honorable and likeable that his friends let him get away with everything. This leads me into the next point.
2. The side characters are completely useless. The two main side characters are purposeless and are only there to show how awesome Rezkin is. On top of this every single female character is completely in love with him, for no other reason than how awesome he is.
3. Instead of pursuing a plotline that suited an incredible assassin character the plot is basically a soap opera. Women are fighting over the completely perfect Rezkin, all the while he is off at night killing people and doing things beyond the realm of reason.

Conclusion: While the small parts of the book that follow Rezkin's rise to power and incredible feats are interesting, they don't make up for the huge shortcomings in the rest of the book and even they eventually become stale since you know he won't fail in any meaningful way. If you want a soap opera in a fantasy setting then give this book a try. If you want an actual epic fantasy novel then I would recommend something else. Maybe Mistborn or the Riyiria Revelations.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-08-17

Simple and drawn out with ridiculous characters

1 - I like my protagonists strong and capable as the next person however this one had my eyes rolling just too entirely much.

2- I am so upset over the poor and ridiculous character development of every female character in this story line. It borders the ridiculous as each female is petty, jealous, demure and incapable of making decisions that inspire respect. I understand if it serves the storyline but even some respectable qualities would have only enhanced the story line. This angered me.

3. Poor storyline. There is entirely too much emphasis on how much of a warrior and perfect the protagonist is from physical capabilities and it gets overly redundant. We get it - wish more time was spent on the actual plot and story development instead of 2/3 of the story spent expressing how amazing the character is...

I was hoping this would get better by the second book. Part way through and it hasnt. I like to finish through with story lines but I am so frustrated at the poor character these people were developed as.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Mbot
  • 12-03-17

What the heck people?

I couldn't finish this book and returned it. I'd like to focus on 2 main factors that I found very annoying. First, the characters, particularly the protagonist, all seem to be total idiots who are victims of elephant-sized plot holes. For example, the hero had been trained in every conceivable facet of life during his isolated upbringing in order to become a master manipulator, but somehow during that time no one gave him the birds and the bees talk or explained the literal definition of the word "friend." We are left with a protagonist who can dress up as a merchant from some far off land and expertly talk about current grain prices, but has zero concept of love, sex, etc. The effect on the story is maddening and totally unbelievable.

The second issue involves the prose and dialogue. Every page seems to have some lengthy, weird description about how gorgeous and ripped and strong and intelligent the hero is... over and over and over! The discussions the characters have with one another are also very one dimensional. They are basically caricatures of themselves, no matter what has taken place in the story. There is also a burdensome amount of exposition. The hero repeatedly stops to explain or think about everything he has done or plans to do, instead of letting his actions speak for themselves.

If you want a good fantasy book, try Blood Song Raven's Shadow or The Way of Kings.

206 of 241 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Em
  • 17-10-16

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.

62 of 74 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • KRE
  • 06-09-17

Like a 13 y/o boy wrote his first "Adult" book

Do you have any additional comments?

I really liked Nick Podehl's narration of the KingKiller Chronicles so after seeing the great reviews for this book I figured it was a no-brainer. I was wrong.

The protagonist has been trained since early childhood in essentially everything and is now a master of all. He's a master swordsman, master physician, master spy, master of disguise, etc. Somehow though he unable to understand things like "friend", "wife", "love", etc. He's constantly trying to figure out why women are reacting to him in certain ways and doesn't understand why everyone around him do not follow the "rules". This schtick gets real old after a few chapters.

The reader is supposed to assume that it's because he was raised in seclusion by warriors and has never had any social interactions outside of the guys that trained him. That's way to big of a leap though considering all of the other things he was taught.

I am halfway thru the book and likely wont finish it. The story is more suited for a Y/A audience (if you took out all the sexual refernces).

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Dylan McDiarmid
  • 02-10-16

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 Bad
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 Good
The pacing in the book is good, and Nick Podehl is a great narrator.

Summary
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.

79 of 98 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gus
  • 26-04-17

A great book for over powered Protagonist lovers

This is a book for those of us that LOVE a strong male lead. If you are looking for a protagonist who has outstanding abilities, powerful armor and weapons, and an award winning personality then this is the book for you.

Things that I love about this book: sometimes I am in the mood for a book about someone who has got it all, and that person needs to use that incredible power and fortitude to the max in order to make it through book.

37 of 46 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Dr F
  • 13-05-17

A teenage boy's fantasy? - Terrible writing

This book is terrible, really.

The following represents a good summation of the book, without providing spoilers:

1. The hero defeats every enemy he encounters without ever breaking a sweat.
2. Every girl that the hero meets is instantly smitten with lust for him and tries to get him into bed. They then become a hormone fueled green eyed monsters of envy who try to attack other females verbally (and sometimes even physically) as they attempt to seduce the hero.
3. All other male characters are overwhelmed by the hero's presence, stature, morals, etc., even when the girl they have the hots for rejects them in favor of the hero.
4. The hero seeks out other people to kill, for seemingly no real reason, and does so without hesitation or qualm. Yet, he is constantly portrayed as being a paradigm of moral virtue.
5. Despite having been isolated from society for his entire life, and despite being sufficiently ignorant to not know what a "friend" is, the hero is somehow fantastically adept at reading social cues, fitting in with all levels of society, seeing through all lies and deceptions, and advancing his own agenda while hiding it from others.
6. The hero never sleeps - to the point where there are two parallel storylines: what he does during the day and what he does during the night.

Suffice to say, this is just some sort of teenage boy's fantasy. But, personally, I thought it was awful.

Oh, there are all kinds of plot oddities too. Like, why do the hero's trainers not tell him what Rules 1 and 2 are until the very end of his training? They wouldn't have influenced his prior training at all, from what I can tell, so beyond deciding to advance the story in a particular way, this makes no sense. Similarly, the fact that the entire book revolves around an incredibly unlikely incidental event happening mid-way through him being told Rule 1 is just silly.

The narrator does a pretty good job in the audiobook, with a good portfolio of different voices and an engaging tone. My only quibble would be that his voice depictions for the other characters may feed into the above problems. His voice of the main female interest's male companion, for example, makes him sound like a bumbling idiot. To be fair, this is the way that the book portrays this sidekick, but the narrator didn't need to emphasize it quite so much.

I guess there's a certain 'hack and slash' fun to the book, but even that is a bit of a stretch and when you know that the hero is going to auto-win every time, there's no suspense or interest really..

14 of 17 people found this review helpful