Having been familiar with and enjoyed author Radulski's previous work, Shadow of the Crimson Queen, available at The Spoken Network as a free downloaded, it's great to experience his talent on a grander scale in this book. As the story's narrator, his enthusiasm enriches the tale and his voice fluctuations pull out the emotions of each character. Music and sound effects fill the background, adding to the ambiance of each scene.
The story is classic fantasy canon with the hero, companions, and their quest, but it doesn't hold back on all things dark, gruesome, and vile when it comes to the graphic descriptions of evil forces and their acts, making it a work not for the faint of heart. Details of settings and characters are vivid. Battle and fights scenes are depicted with such precision that each movement is easily followed. The story is simply filled with great imagery, some beautiful, some frightening, some haunting.
The main hero, Gadras Woundwing, is handsome, strong, fearless, noble in spirit. His best friend, the lovely Elsynian bard, Adlain Geldwatch, is overflowing with charisma. The rogue and thief, Elanna Dervian, creates a nice balance against the male heroes, as with her sharp wit and skill she's a perfect blend of strength and femininity. Another female character of note is that of the warrior, Ang Saroth, who with her two swords that seem to have a spirit of their own, is a formidable opponent to anyone in the story. With the many different names of characters and places, as well as different races, it can initially be confusing when first listening to keep everything straight, but listeners should not be discouraged as author Radulski repeats these things several times.
As the first book in a trilogy, the story has a solid ending, but there's still much more quest to continue upon, and after following Gadras, Adlain, Elanna, and companions through their first trials, listeners will be hard pressed to not continue the journey.
For those who enjoyed the first book in The Hands of Aldulan trilogy, Kingdom of the Necromancer, the quest of Gadras Woundwing and the Holders continues with new characters, new insights, and new challenges in The Isle of Dusk. Where the first book in the series was more focused on action and introducing characters, Isle of Dusk moves slower with fewer action sequences, but takes the time build new antagonists and to dig deeper into some of the characters, most notably the female warrior, Ang Saroth. Of the characters from the first book, Ang stood out as being one of the more intriguing. Her past and psyche are explored in depth, revealing a disturbing history behind her.
While it's interesting to delve into Ang's past and to see such a solid antagonist in Count Dilgreshar come to life, there is a tradeoff, and that is the heroes who led in the first book, Gadras Woundwing, his bard friend Adlain Geldwatch, and the beautiful thief Elanna Dervian, get pushed to the background until the second half of the book, which is disappointing because they all had such great charisma and chemistry together. When the action starts to unfold toward the story's end, it jumps from characters and settings every few minutes making it difficult to get into one particular conflict. However, for those who have listened to author Radulski's free download, Shadow of the Crimson Queen, at The Spoken Network, you'll be interested to know that a couple key characters from that work make an appearance in Isle of Dusk and more of their history is revealed.
So while there are few gives and takes with this second book, it's still wholly worth listening to, it's still entertaining, and it does progress the story. The ending comes about abruptly, making it so you'll have to get the third book, Heart of Malifess, to know the fates of Gadras and the Holders.
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