"Do what you can with what you have, wherever you are."
I guess I'll start off by saying I love the post apocalyptic / dystopian genre, especially those works that center around losing our modern way of life such as an EMP. Books like "One Second After" and "Going Home" are good examples of the premise done pretty well. That being said, this book is far more a fantasy piece than anything else. What makes the difference to me is an element of plausibility, that "could happen" factor. In this book, no explanation is given. On the surface I could live with that; but where it crosses too far into the fantasy realm is that after "the change" not only did electronics not work, but fundamental laws of physics changed too. Firearms dribbled out bullets at the feet of the shooter, steam power produced next to nothing, and gasoline wouldn't even burn as a fuel source. Why? No one knows! It just seemed like the author stopped trying. He might as well said "Magical fairy monkeys said so, and it was true." It makes about as much sense. I also found that modern people all of a sudden being able to use swords easily, craft bows, know how to farm, garden, spin wool to make clothing, and all the other similarly rare skills pretty far fetched. I thought that all the happy coincidences enjoyed by many of the characters pushed the limits of what I was willing to accept too. A person is out in the Oregon forest when she just so happens to stumble on to an injured hunter all the way from England who just happens to be a master bow maker of the old longbow variety. Wow, what a boon! She should have played the lottery before everything went down the tubes with that kind of luck. Speaking of that character, I get that she's Wiccan, more power to her (no pun intended) but does she have to constantly speak like she's an Irish fortune cookie? That get tiresome in a 20 plus hour book. Just answer a simple question with a simple answer, not everything needs a proverb or blessing attached to it. It really bogs down the flow. Its so pervasive that if the author curtailed it, the reading would be cut down to 13 hours.
Finally, one or two things about the performance. Mr. McLaren did a good job overall, and I've definitely heard worse. He does many Northern European accents well, which begs the question why, in a book that takes place in Oregon and Idaho, are there seemingly more English, Irish, and Scottish folks running around that just average Americans? I don't know if that's a problem with the writing and Mr. McLaren was being faithful to it, or his interpretation of the characters was too heavy handed. Either way it was distractingly incongruous.
The whole book feels like too much of a stretch for me to be happy with. It seems like a gamer or LARPer recreated the world they would be happy in with no regard for realism whatsoever.
This audiobook was classified as Sci-Fi: Contemporary but, except for the first chapter where an inexplicable phenomenon seemingly changes the laws physics as they relate to electricity and combustion, there is nothing in this novel that even approaches Science Fiction. This is the reason for such a low Overall rating.
The writer is actually quite good and in some instances, the story telling is actually engrossing. However, all too often the writer gets into a bunch of Wicca religiosity verbosity that add nothing of value to the story except increasingly tense frustration.
If not for Todd Mclaren's superb narration skills, I doubt I would have finished the audiobook, even though I was hanging on mostly to find out if aliens were involved. As it was, while there were subtle suggestions during the story that this event might have been due to an alien attack, even that remained a mystery to the end.
Avid audible listener for over 10 years.
I like the genre of armageddon novels, and found this one different. There is no plague turning people into superhuman villains, creatures, or zombies. Everyone just losses access to modern power (cars, motors, electricity) They also lose access to guns, since gunpowder does not work. While slightly farfetched and not explained why this all occurred, it does make the book more interesting. I am getting slightly tired of the survivors in these types of books getting their hands on guns and blasting everything in sight (or in the case of The Passage, nuclear weapons). Fundamentally, all of society is forced back into the middle ages almost overnight. Those who survive are the ones who can best adapt. It did make me think of going out and provisioning my cellar with enough food to last a year.
I am not sure I will continue on in the series because I think the most interesting part of the series is the transition from modern society to medieval society. I imagine the remaining books in the series would read just like some middle ages novels such as those written by Bernard Cornwall. In fact, the main evil character in the book is a professor of medieval history so he knows how to survive based on his knowledge of the period.
This is not a post- apocalyptic fantasy, it's not science fiction, and it's not even remotely plausible. S. M. Sterling is in such a hurry to remake the world into a SCA nerds dream, that he has turned the survivors into chain-mail clad master swordsmen, powerful-but-good witches, and castle dwelling evil overlords inside of six months. That bears repeating- he feels that six months is a reasonable timeline to recast modern civilization into functioning, self sufficient fiefdoms with knights and mead and castles everything. He should have at least taken a break and learned to write inner monologue, because simply writing two paragraphs of flowery ren-fair drivel and wrapping it up with, "..., he said to himself." is awkward and confusing. I regret finishing this book because it made me dumber.
He has a nice voice, but I found especially the female voices to be lacking. Do they really have to sound so hoarse?
The protector to start with
Too many lucky coincidences at one place. The story might also be more interesting if the two main faction for instance had been on different continensts. Shallow character building and too many details.
I am a writer from Toronto. I am 34 and hooked on audio books.
This is an amazing opening to the series. You will love the characters and story. A truly original take on the end of the world. Got my stamp... so you all know its sweet!
All the women seem to have Irish accents, even if they aren't part of the McKenzie clan. His mispronunciation of words drives me batty, specifically ration.
I enjoyed seeing how people might potentially cope after such a world changing event. There are so many possibilities and I like hearing this author's take on the potential chaos and coping.I am on the sixth book of the series now, and must say I really liked the first three books. I kind of wish I had just left it after the third. Be warned, if you are just starting this series the books later on start to drag and get repetitive with lots of religion, piety, and self righteousness. So, if you do listen to this, you might consider jumping ship after the third book as is starts to get a bit preachy after that.
If you always have a book with you...
Such a fun fantasy story set in modern day Oregon. Sure there are a few hokey things like gunpowder won't work anymore, but all in all it is a really enjoyable listen. The apocalypse has happened and there is no explanation as to why, but that does not take away from the story. Everyone is scrambling to survive and you really start to think "what would you do?"
The story develops well and keeps your interest throughout. the narration was great and if your looking for an apocalyptic book without zombies.....this is it.
Certainly worth the credit.
Good story, the witch part was a bit too much. Liked the bear killers the best
Pretty good accents
As a post-apocalyptic cheap thrill, it works fine. But the Wiccan/Renfaire trappings got quite tedious in comparison to what they added to the story. All of the characters are conveniently super knowledgeable of their ancient familial warcries and obscure national military traditions? Okay. Sure. If you're looking for a story with a modicum of believability and a minimum of eye-rolling and groaning, this isn't it. If you're looking for a story to hold your attention during the morning commute, this one will work fine. I was hoping to get a lot of mileage out of the Emberverse Series, especially being located in Portland, but I think I'll cut my losses after this enjoyable but dime store novel-quality story.
It's interesting to think what modern humans with the advantages of historical knowledge would do if returned to medieval conditions.
Some of the Bearkiller battle scenes were pretty well done.
Find a new series.