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Summary

"Strikingly intense...immersive and thoroughly compelling." (SFX)

"Compelling and entertaining...inventive and fun." (SciFiNow)

The war is over, but something is rotten in the state of Eidyn.

With a ragged peace in place, demons burn farmlands, violent Reivers roam the wilds and plague has spread beyond the Black Meadows. The country is on its knees.

In a society that fears and shuns him, Aranok is the first magically-skilled draoidh to be named King's Envoy.

Now, charged with restoring an exiled foreign queen to her throne, he leads a group of strangers across the ravaged country. But at every step, a new mystery complicates their mission.

As bodies drop around them, new threats emerge and lies are revealed, can Aranok bring his companions together and uncover the conspiracy that threatens the kingdom? 

Strap in for this twisted fantasy road trip from award-winning author Justin Lee Anderson.

Shortlisted in the 2019 Booknest Fantasy Awards

©2019 Justin Lee Anderson (P)2020 Podium Audio

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    5 out of 5 stars

great first book in the series

I read and listened to Justin's debut novel Carpet Diem a while back amd loved it ao was looking forward to this one.

This book is so different from carpet diem though that it could have been written by a completely different author. This isn't a bad thing as it looks like the start of an amazing fantasy epic similar to a lot of old authors I used to read.

I love the way Justin has changed from his comedy fantasy to serious fantasy with ease and the way he has decided to write an epic instead of just a one off really adds to it and shows off his talents.

The world building was brilliant with enough detail at anyone point for you to know where they were but not too much that you get bogged down in all the detail.

The characters are also really well written and Justin has written them in such a way that you are really rooting for them throughout.

Overall this is the start of what looks like a brilliant fantasy series and I can't wait to read the next book when it is released.

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Wow!

One of the best Audiobooks I’ve ever listened to!! I can’t wait for book 2!!!

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Could be better

Aranoks character acts contradictory to how old he's supposed to be, he's claimed to have fought beside the king and freed the kingdom and trapped Minogog but his action makes him sound like a young, arrogant, thoughtless, reckless person. The narrator was good but I found the pause between sentences long and annoying. Apart from that, the story was good.

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Great

This is a really great book, looking forward to the rest of the series and hope it’s not too far away

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Great Book

I absolutely loved it . Great characters ,well written and a very nice twist
Kevin

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nice twist

thoroughly enjoyed this book. I haven't read for a while and thought I'd give this a try. Excellent.

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  • Lisa M. Perkey
  • 11-05-20

Holy Cow!

I don't often write reviews, but I could not resist. You know, when you finish listening to a book and you're trying to figure out what to read next? You look thru the list and since none of your usual authors have anything new out. You decide to try something new and keep your fingers crossed and pick something. OMG! This is what I picked. There are not enough words to express how much I enjoyed this book. From the start through the finish I was captivated. Mr. Anderson, you are definitely at the top of my list for storytellers! Euan Morton is outstanding! I can't wait to listen to it all over again.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Kent W. Long
  • 11-05-20

Little RPGish! Looks like it could be a solid read

I was ready to give up on this book, but at the end Anderson brings it together and makes you understand why something just wasn't' quite right about the characters. It completes a story that seems to head no where. It did feel a lot like the Original Sin RPG game to me. Women character's were masculated, but of coarse beautiful! Whatever! Men a bit emasculated! Whatever!
Kind of tired of that trend. There is a way to respect the gender's strength in fantasy without all that bogus approach!
In the long run, a good twist for an ending.

4 people found this helpful

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  • DabOfDarkness
  • 31-07-20

Starts with my favorite curse & gets awesome

This story started off with my favorite versatile swear word. I knew in that moment, I was going to enjoy the ride.

Our main character, Aranok, has an innate magical ability. While that gives him an edge in many situations, it also makes him a outcast in circles. The story starts off with a quest – to save the country! Yay! He starts off with some companions and others join along the way. The quest also gets more complicated and immediate threats keep sidelining the main goal. I loved that the plot wasn’t straight forward and held surprises for me.

Allandria often gave me a chuckle. She’s a proven warrior and Anarok’s current body guard, but she also has a sharp sense of humor. One line from her still has me chuckling – ‘Turn around, ye git! Ladies are dressing for battle! (paraphrased… unless I got it completely right). There’s also Samily, a knight with a religious bent. She’s also a proven warrior but she has a special ability as well, one that she’s kept underwraps. It took me quite some time to like Samily and it’s because she’s so steeped in her religion. But as she travels with this group, getting away from the monastery, some of her views start to change and she becomes a more accepting person.

Glorbad was another character I sometimes liked and sometimes wanted to smack upside the head. He’s a jaded soldier who is probably wrestling with some PTSD. He can be so loyal and dedicated but that dedication can sometimes be a single-minded stubbornness. Still, he brings another viewpoint to the group and kept things interesting. Nirea (pirate), Meristan (priest), and Vostin (young blacksmith) are some of the side characters that stood out to me. I liked how Vostin came to be somewhat indebted to Aranok and that’s how he gets sucked into the quest.

The plot itself never left me bored. There’s the world building, the monsters, the quests, and the little bit of time traveling – which all kept me on my toes. The Blackened were particularly terrifying as this ‘disease’ is so easy to catch and there is no known cure. However, our heroes find themselves in a unique position with a possible solution. Yet the knowledge also weighs heavy on them as it means all the Blackened they’ve ended were innocents they might have saved. These heavier moments in the story really anchored it, bringing out some great depths to some of the characters.

The ending gave us a big surprise. I didn’t see that coming! And it changes so much for our heroes! It also leaves us on a cliff hanger as the kingdom is still in great danger. I’m definitely looking forward to book 2. 5/5 stars.

The Narration: Euan Morton has a great voice for Aranok, our main hero. He had unique voices for all the characters and his female character voices were feminine. I really liked how he portrayed the more serious emotions and also captured the humor too. His voice for religiously dedicated Samily was spot on. On the technical side, for the first half of the book, the cadence was sometimes a little off. It was subtle, and each sentence individually sounds good, but sometimes there was a pause in between sentences that was just a beat or two too long, usually when the text was switching characters. However, Morton found his pacing for the second half of the story. 4.5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book. My opinions are 100% my own.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Sandra Smith, Capitan NM
  • 19-12-20

Great narrator& story

The book is worth the time for the narrator alone. the story is good, different & attentive to the details of the story being weaved. the narrator was absolutely phenomenal, perfectly suited to the read, dragging you into the heart of the characters ,& story.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Becky
  • 30-11-20

great story

Where are the other books Audible? I couldn't find the rest ..or even this one.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 20-03-21

Not interested in following more of the series

What could have been a great plot twist at the end just divested me of the charactors. Instead of a big BOOM, my mind was blown, it was a wayward bottle rocket on the 4th of July that causes Uncle Bob to knock over the grill and ruin the burgers and brats. Two or three chapters to reset the stage at the end is a minimum. 👎

The whole book should have been part of a back story or flashback for the rest of the series, or maybe a prequel once the series was finished. Nope not invested in the characters or the story after reading this book.

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  • Andrew
  • 04-03-21

Fantastic

Fantastic. One that will even better on a reread.

My only small issue is with the narration. I love the narrator’s voice, but the pauses between sentences are usually too long—especially in the dialogue. My guess is a lot of the lines were recorded one at a time and then spliced together.

It’s a small irritation that kind of builds up over time. It adds a feeling of awkwardness to scenes that shouldn’t be there.

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  • Logophile
  • 08-11-20

Twisted

No, not twisted in the vernacular sense. I mean only that it does not go where you might expect.

Anderson tells his story in a world that is not contrived. It is not filled with extraneous "plot bubbles" contrived to fill holes in the audience's knowledge, Nor do the characters talk to themselves unrealistically about what is common knowledge in their world in order to provide this needed background. The world is not ours, yet it is comfortable. Its divergences from what we know are naturally revealed as the plot progresses, and they are necessary to the tale, not to our understanding. This is subtlely masterful storytelling.

Euan Morton exemplifies the perfect casting of a narrator for a specific story. His mellifluous voice and accent add a layer of enchantment that is just right. In addition, as a listener who is a lover of language, (and more than a little jaded,) I have to commend him for his knowledge of it. Yes, I am praising him for what he is NOT doing. In 20 hours of listening, not once was I jarred out of my suspension of belief by repeated mispronunciations. His character voices were appropriate and also not jarring, and had range and depth. I did not even notice his female voices. This is also a subtle mastery. I will be looking for more of his work.

In all, the story itself was a little slow to grab hold of me, however, I found myself gently lead to that unexpected place where I found myself completely enthralled and wanting more.

I don't know if reading the book would have given me the same feeling as listening to the audible version. This is a case where the narrator and the author have a certain chemistry. Whether or not Mr. Anderson had any intention of sharing the limelight, the two of them became collaborators. Together, they weave the story about the listener as would a bard of old. I eagerly await the next book.

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  • Tom
  • 04-09-20

Hope it was a first book.

Book went on and on and on. Then it stopped. Could have used more energy rapping it up.

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  • Charl
  • 09-08-20

Better than I expected

Got initially pulled in by the Narrator's accent, which I really enjoyed. But as the story progressed, I got really engrossed in it. The mystery of it all, The depth of the characters personalities, the grit of the battles, and the raw emotion. I loved it