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Shadow of the Conqueror

Chronicles of Everfall, Book 1
Length: 18 hrs and 30 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (195 ratings)

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Summary

Who better to fight back the darkness of the world than the one responsible for most of it?

Daylen, once known as the Great Bastard, the Scourge of Nations, Dayless the Conqueror, has lived in hiding since his presumed death. Burdened by age and tremendous guilt, he thinks his life is coming to an end. Unbeknownst to him he’s about to embark on a journey towards redemption where his ruthless abilities might save the world. Many battles await with friends to be made and a past filled with countless crimes to confront, all the while trying to keep his true identity a secret.

Indeed, it might be too much if not for the fabled power awaiting him.

Everfall is a world of perpetual day where the continents float in an endless sky. If one jumps from the continent they will fall for many hours before returning to the same place from which they fell. Skyships rule the air powered by shining sunstone and industrial darkstone. A legendary order of knights bears mystical powers which they use to hunt out the dreaded shade, monsters that regular people turn into if trapped in darkness for the length of a fall.

It is a world of enchanted swords, merciless monsters, mystical knights, and hard magic, filled with tales of wonder and adventure.

©2019 Shad Brooks (P)2019 Shad Brooks

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Fantastic world building and coulorfull characters

Shad has proven himself to be a master world builder with his first published book! Even in such a fantastical world, shad has thought out every detail in a way that keeps it realistic and grounded. The various cultures and religions of the world make sense within the context of the setting and as a fan of his YouTube channel its awesome to see him put his "laws against medieval realism" to good use and show how realism, even in a fantasy world can make a setting far more believable. That same believability also applies to the characters. For example a character with new found magical powers acts in very much the same way I imagine many would.



I've given the story "4 stars" even though my enjoyment of the book so far I would rate at 5. This is because by giving 5 stars I feel like it would have to be on as good as other books I conider 5 stars such as LOTR or or Got. So why don't I think its as good as those? Well I'd like to give some constructive criticism here but it's something I can't really describe. It's something about the actual writing that just feels a little more sort of clumsy, not quite as perfect. It's not badly written or anything though and still incredibly enjoyable.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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In the vein of Brandon Sanderson

This was an excellent, well thought out, well explored, & engaging book in all aspects. Character relations, Worldbuilding, magic systems, and an amazing final act where all these aspects culminated in a way similar to Brandon Sanderson’s finales. If you like Sanderson I think you’ll enjoy this too.
I greatly look forward to
The narrators are talented & perform as well as in the Wheel of Time and Stormlight Archive.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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I love shad but there was plenty work needing done

There were times where I was entirely wrapped up in the story but they weren't as numerous as the times I were thinking "what was the editor doing at this section)" there was so much explaining that I think our common sense was being questioned .

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

A thrilling story from an inexperienced author.

This book takes a little while to get going, make sure you give it at least 2 hours for it to really hit its stride. The protagonist's angst will quickly get tiresome but is rarely deelt on. I get what the author was trying to do but the endless references to rape and past evil acts really drag after a while.

The story lacks a main antagonist to drive the plot and I think suffers for it. This may have been done as the author intends the book to be first of a series but nonetheless the lack of significant challenge and lack of a consistent villain for our hero to come up against makes the story seem somewhat like a prelude rather than a stand alone novel.

Bearing that in mind, I think it is a bit presumptuous to call a book, Book 1 of the X Series at first publication. You never saw "Harry Potter and Sorceror's Stone (Book 1 of the Harry Potter Series)" or "Fifty Shades of Grey (Book 1 of the 50 Shades Series)". The book could stand alone but you go into it with a feeling that it isn't meant to.

This fic's main problem is the dialogue. It sometimes comes across as clunky and unnatural although that could be the audio delivery. There are also quite a few comments/jokes about characters being gay that are immature and mildly homophobic (although that might be intentional in a fantasy setting).

Although they are the power couple of the fantasy audiobook world, I'm not a fan of Reading and Kramer as narrators. Her voice is quite jarring and his quite soporific. The chapters from the female lead's perspective were by far the minority. I'm not sure a second narrator was necessary especially as each character's voice sounded oddly different depending on the narrator.

The worldbuilding is great. The fantasy world constructed is unlike any other I have ever seen or read. It is completely original and we are introduced to the different aspects fairly easily. I have seen many reviews complaining about an excess of exposition but that wasn't something I noticed. This may be because I had the audio sped up to deal with Kramer but I hadn't noticed the exposition at all.

Once you get caught up in the action it can be really enthralling as well. The mechanics of the realm are straightforward and the fights make sense (although deus ex happens a bit). The main characters seem to logically follow the consequences of their actions (except for Deylan) but the excitement is consistent throughout.

Most of the characters are human enough and fairly likeable. The main characters are developed a bit throughout the story and seem to become less abrasive to each other with the passage of time. Deylan/Deyless's character makes the least sense going from wimp accepting guilt for things he didn't do to violent maniac impaling people to death. That was all a bit odd. The lightbringer's story and character actually became the most interesting for me which is odd with him being somewhat tertiary among the main characters.

Having said all of that there are two sorts of fics for me. The ones where I see the clock and say "Argh, I've only managed to get through 3 hours." or where I say "Wow, time flies. I can't believe that 3 hours whizzed by so quickly." This story is definitely one of the latter. Once you get caught up in it the story flies by quickly and it is quite compelling.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Needs a lot of work

This debut novel smacks of childish writing and poor editing. It rambles where it should flow and the character concept, while a good foundation, is wasted with bad writing and repeated pointless description. We are placed into a fantastical universe where description of it is crammed into internal monologues and, worse, little soliloquy that the character "just happens to do", as if he's talking to an imaginary audience. It is an extremely jarring read and should have been at least another two years in editing before it was published. I had high hopes for this story but sorry to say the execution was appalling. I like Shad, I'm a fan of his videos and he's incredibly knowledgeable. But this book was not ready and if he writes again, I would strongly recommend a co-author or a different editor.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Left me longing for more

Overall, Shad has created a fantastic universe with sound rules for the story and people

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great read and can't wait for the next one

One of the most interesting worlds I've experienced in a long time. All the characters were had so much depth and made me want to keep listening. Can't wait for the next one

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Blacking Good!

Honestly one of the best books I've ever read! The exploration of right and wrong, the psychology and development of the characters, and an intrinsic but simple plotline, I found it hard to stop listening! Worth your twelve years Shad! Now when is the next one? XD

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Bloody brilliant!

When shad said this was a thing I was skeptical, but this has been fantastic!

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Excellent story

It’s like being a part of RPG game when reading this book. Nice story an brilliant idea .

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 18-07-19

Shad get a better Editor

I'm writing this on my phone so sorry in advance. I'm a fan of Shad's YouTube channel. I've read Brandon Sanderson's books and Robert Jordan's. There is so much influence in these and it really shows. The premise is very interesting but I honestly think if you want to make a world builder book with this much detail you need to spread it out. As others have pointed out there are big information dumps that don't seem to fit where they are placed. I would rather have the story show me how the world works like Sanderson or Jordan. The main character is very hard to self identify with because he talks about how much he regrets killing people and how his greatest punishment for his crime is living with the guilt. Then he goes and kills a bunch of criminals. The darker themes of the book (sex, rape, murder, and genocide) seem to be delivered awkwardly. The action scenes are done very well and are enjoyable.The narrators absolutely blow me away everytime I listen to them and they do an amazing job like always. Shad, I haven't read any of your other stuff so I'm not sure how this compares but this seems like a great attempt. I enjoyed the ride and was able to finish the book and have listened to much worse books. I did enjoy the book but I think it could use much more polish. I look forward to listening to anything you might write in the future. To anyone looking to purchase the book go ahead and support the author. It was a fun book and would enjoy reading more about the world.

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • John Henry Mecomber
  • 27-07-19

Great first book

This tale of redemption has great world building and a fleshed out magic system. The story is good but after hearing the main character dump on himself continuously it starts to get a bi et old. There are also a lot of he said, she said, and characters says in this book so that gets old after listening after a while. The voice work is really jarring though when characters are voiced by the other reader after having been voiced by the other.

I would have thought the cast would have been divided in half since there were 2 readers here, but no. Whenever it is a male perspective Michael reads and when a female perspective then Kate reads. This leads to wildly different voices for a character.

Overall the book is a good listen and I recommend it but be prepared for some drag.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • William
  • 13-07-19

Better as an audiobook

Michael Kramer and Kate Reading do a wonderful job narrating this book. Despite a few rookie flaws (excessive dialogue attributions, too much info dumping, etc.), I would rank this book up there with Brandon's Mistborn series. If you're a fan of Mistborn or Brandon Sanderson in general, then you'll love the Chronicles of Everfall by Shad Brooks. I anticipate this series to be a slow burn, but I have no doubt it'll hit the best-seller list in due time. Shad does an amazing job with his world-building and thinking about how certain magic systems interact with the world in a way that I haven't seen other authors do before. It's obvious that Shad did his research, and he did it well.

Some people complain about the main protagonist being a Gary Stue, and under normal circumstances I'd have to agree. While I do think having a talking head would have been a better route in terms of Dayless knowing everything, the main thing keeping him from being a Gary Stue is his character flaws. His flaws are enough to offset the amount of power he's been given, and you'll often times see that they lead him to great misfortune. I think it's disingenuous when people say things like "I never felt like the main character was ever in any real danger," when the fact is that you can say that about any book, regardless of their Mary Sue status or the lack thereof. It's expected by the end of the book that the main character will generally be alive, or some part of their existence will persist through a good chunk of the story, otherwise there wouldn't be a story in the first place.

That said, there's a couple major flaws with the story. For one, it feels like the main character is just doing random stuff for a good portion of the book. For another good portion of the book, time is spent lecturing to the audience about how the world or magic systems work. It's quite a bit of overkill. I didn't feel like the book started going anywhere significant until about the 2/3rds mark.

I also felt like character's reactions to things were unbelievable, especially when it came to the main character's cold-hearted slaughter of random people. I'm sorry but, some of those incidents you wouldn't just shrug off and say, "Yeah, you're right. You were justified."

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 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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  • MasterTorian
  • 17-07-19

I really wanted to love it...

This is likely to be an unpopular opinion.

I am a HUGE fan of the author's YouTube channel. He does some super in-depth analysis of various medieval and fantasy ideas and medias and I love 98% of what he does.

But this book has left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
Honestly, I would have rated it lower but I reserve 1-star ratings for books that don't have anything that I like or enjoy. And this book has a little going for it, just not nearly enough to counterbalance the poor elements.

Okay, when I saw this audiobook was narrated by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading I was really excited to dig in. Those two are a fantastic narration team and have never let me down.

Indeed, the narration is excellent. Kate and Michael both have some awesome voices and incredible control of tempo and vocal inflections.

But the story.

Okay, let me begin with a few praises.

Although in need of a good polish, the prose is smooth and skillful. The characters have a reasonable amount of depth. And the depth of the world building is incredible.

Which is part of the problem.

I don't mean incredible in the sense of being really good, but actually incredible. I can't believe how much of it is actually in the book.

Honestly, there are a LOT of asides that feel like rules entries in a D&D campaign/setting book. It's almost as if this whole story in just from sidebars in such a campaign book.

There's just way more detail about the world and its mechanics than necessary, while a couple of very specific issues that strain my suspension of disbelief are never addressed.

However, there are three prose issues that need to be mentioned.

The frequent (and it is, oh, so frequent!) use of the word "literally" really diminishes the power of the prose and makes it feel amateurish.

While some of the dialogue is good and feels natural, other bits are so clunky and feel so forced I can hardly believe the narrators didn't balk at actually saying the lines.

And the sheer amount of "telling" (rather than showing) in this book was really frustrating, particularly with "action" sequences. The book would have been so much more exciting if so much of the action hadn't been summarized upon its completion. From an author who is a sword enthusiast and a skilled swordsman himself, I was really expecting a lot more detail devoted to the fight scenes.

Now, I have 2 very large issues that almost made me drop the book and get a refund on numerous occasions.

1, rampant (and awkward) sexuality and rape.

There are multiple characters completely defined by their sexual assault, and I'm sorry, but showing a recent rape victim who literally throws herself at every young male available as a "coping mechanism" is so far beyond ridiculous, I don't even have the words to express it.

For an author who claims Mormon values and sensibilities, I can't help wondering if he doesn't include this purely because he somehow got the misguided idea that readers want it.

Here's the thing, books like A Game of Thrones can get away with it because it feels authentic to the world and the situations feel real. Not because fantasy readers particularly want to see it.

Reading those parts in this book felt like listening to a nine-year-old talk about sex. It was super awkward and did not remotely resemble how real people talk about sex.

2, the main character. There are so many issues here, but let me condense the list to a few key points.

The biggest problem is he's a bastard. After being with him for 18 hours I can honestly say there's not one thing about him that I like. Largely because every positive thing presented just rings false.

Other characters describe him as mature, intelligent, and wise beyond his (apparent) years. But what we see in him is the complete opposite. His pride would make Sauron cringe, he's as frivolous and childish as my nine-year-old daughter, and the sheer number of idiotic decisions he makes is mind blowing.

And there's this contradiction. The author goes to great lengths to show us his guilt. He spends pages and pages bemoaning it and at one point the main character spends days locked in his cabin weeping over it.

But at the end of the day, he's still a bastard who raped young girls and killed millions. And he proves himself to still be a selfish, violent man prone to overreacting and dispensing vigilante justice. In some cases with no evidence of guilt.

While in most roleplaying games it's perfectly acceptable to take someone at their word and kill their attacker, in a supposedly deep and complex novel, I expect more realism than that.

Especially when it's from an author who has established himself as a person with a huge amount of attention to detail who spends a lot of time criticizing films and games for very minor lapses in realism.

And yes, the fact that the main character is a master at basically everything he does as well as having more powerful magic than anyone else is a huge problem. Whether there's an explanation or not is irrelevant. How good he is at everything competely destroys any tension that might otherwise have existed.

I feel like leaving out the sex (or writing it with realism and sensitivity) and making the Light Bringer (whose name I won't try to spell) the main character would have solved all of the novel's plot and character problems.

I actually really liked the Bringer as a character. He has a complicated past that isn't fully revealed until shortly before the end. He has a strong sense of honor and justice. And I love that his sense of humor is so out there! He makes a lot of really bad jokes, especially in the beginning, and it's a source of banter with other characters, which I appreciate.

Finally, let's talk about a few of the world elements that I have issues with.

First, the endless universe. Was any thought put into this? As far as I can tell, the entire "universe" exists within around a thousand miles of height, and reaching the "bottom" then drops one from the "top." But there is a sun beyond that somehow.

The whole thing smacks of nonsense to me, and no attempt at an explanation is made, yet almost everything else in the world is explained to the umpteenth degree.

I'm really struggling with the magic system. First and foremost is the fact that light is the source of magic. Maybe it's just me, but that seems absurd to me. And then we spend so much time getting so bogged down in the rules of the magic, and defining everything, and having the main character "discover" things that are supposed to be impossible, that by the time the actual story starts I don't even care how the magic works anymore.

Also, I have a serious issue with the magic that might be considered a spoiler so read the rest of this paragraph at your own risk. At one point near the end of the book the main character "channels light" (invests magic) into amplifying his skill with a sword. Everything magic has done previously has been manipulating physical characteristics or natural forces (such as wind or gravity). Yet somehow he's able to channel light into his "skill." Again, for an author so gung-ho about realism and things making sense, this is extremely disappointing.

Also, the fact that everything else about the magic is so scientific just rubs me the wrong way. Magic should be mystical. Magic should be variable. Magic should not be 100% explained with every rule and mechanic on the table in the first 100 pages. Yes, it's capabilities and limitations should make sense, but it doesn't need that strong a grounding in scientific realism.

I find the sheer amount of technology and tech-speak in the book distracting and irritating. I don't pick up a high/epic fantasy novel to read about technology. I don't want to read about engineering. I don't want to hear about cellular levels, guns, modern political issues, and scientific advances. I want swords and armor and magic and medieval political problems.

My last issue comes down to predictability. For a book that people keep comparing to Brandon Sanderson, I was really expecting a mystery that I couldn't figure out until we came to it and enough complexity to keep me thinking and revising my opinions and ideas of what was really going on.

Unfortunately, there is none of that here. The plot is very linear, very straightforward, and very predictable. Nothing surprised me.

Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to love this book, there's is very little that I enjoyed here and I really can't think of any type of reader that I would recommend this book to.

21 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Adam Miller
  • 15-07-19

An enjoyable book with a problematic protagonist

On the whole I liked this book, though there are certain aspects that didn't quite work for me. The world building is in depth and interesting. There were a few times I found the exposition laying out the magic system and the world to be a bit heavy handed and dragged the book down a bit. That said I generally enjoyed the bits where the protagonist explored his powers.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the supporting characters. Lyra and Kuseg (not sure on the name spelling as this is an audio book to me) were particularly interesting and I enjoyed Arek's terrible humor immensely.

The main issue with the book for me is the protagonist, Daylen. I get that he's supposed to be a former bad guy trying to be good, but I can't help but feel that Shad, the author, went a little too far in making him a monster in his former life and didn't do quite enough leg work to justify him as the protagonist through most the book. The simple fact is that Daylen commits too many brutal and barbaric acts in his new life for me to ever truly root for him. It doesn't matter that he feels bad about them or that he did them to terrible people. It just feels like there's a disconnect, if he is a despicable person who has seen the error of his ways and is seeking redemption, then he shouldn't be so quick to deal death to others. The first time it happened I understood as he is reverting to his old ways, but each time it happens after that it is harder and harder to empathize

All that said, I found there to be some legitimately touching moments between him and the supporting characters toward the end and found his over all fate and conclusion to the novel to be satisfying.

I would definitely like to see more from this world now that so much of it has been explained and the story can just get moving. I also have hope that I may like Daylen more in another installment.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • D.B. Cooper
  • 11-07-19

You can judge a audio book by it's narrators.

I had to check if this was someone writing under a pseudonym, Best new fantasy series of 2019 Imo. This will soon be a bestseller, it really is that good. I'm horrible at writing reviews but I am sure there will be hundreds to come.

14 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-08-19

Excellent World, Shallow Characters

This book is fantastic in its world building. The magic system is phenomenal, as someone who has an engineering background and an interest in particle physics and quantum mechanics I found the magic system engrossing. The attention to detail and the technical aspects were interesting and I appreciated that the author did not dumb down the engineering aspects of the world. I am highly appreciative that the protagonist is an engineer and brought that direct perspective to understanding the world he lives in. The world has great potential and even the background story would be a fascinating book in and of itself.
I do however feel that the characters' backgrounds are rather shallow and I never felt what I believe the author wanted me to feel about the protagonist. The graphic and violent aspects of the story were not emotionally powerful and felt contrived. The fight scenes and the usage of the magic system was excellent, but the motivations of the characters were very muddled. The author tries too hard to tie up lose ends to the determent of the overall story. The conclusion left me wanting to pick up the characters and put them back in the middle of the book where the plot and story were stronger and more entertaining. The end was extremely contrived and did not feel natural, but more like the author saying, "I'm running out of ink, better wrap it up." The creatures of the world and the original driving force of the protagonist was a much more interesting narrative and I was more drawn to the protagonist's past than the story's present.
Overall, as an exercise in world building 9/10, character development 5/10, emotional depth 2/10.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joshua Blake Elison
  • 14-08-19

If you like a little fantasy with your physics

This book spends too much time explaining its magic system. I love hard magic systems and physics. But when the main character spends what feels like half and hour describing how he is able to jump for the fourth time. It's just too much. Plus the magic system already feels very derivative of the Stormlight Archive.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 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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  • Jonathan
  • 13-08-19

fascinating world, raped by bad character writing

I first started this excited and ready for a grounded and unique fantasy story to only end up realizing I'm reading a rape apologists love letter to forcing women to birth their rape babies because that makes everything better? ...right? The answer is no, it doesnt. Seriously, what the hell did I just listen to?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    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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  • Allen
  • 12-08-19

Unnecessary long winded

Robert Jordan had a knack for using three paragraphs where one sentence would do and Shad Brooks expectedly follows the formula of his favorite author. I was often able to skip multiple chapters in Jordan's works and I did the same here. The story was a good effort for a first time published author, but it's the vocal performance that makes my overall rating three stars here. Not sure if I will continue the series, especially if the wordy writing style continues.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful