Gretna, LA, USA | Member Since 2006
An alien supervirus mutates a percentage of the population, creating great powers in people (Aces), or grotesque deformities (Jokers), both with no warning, reason or rhyme. Take this concept, and let loose some of science fiction's more imaginative writers to take this framework, and write stories in their own style and direction, and you have a must hear audiobook. Outside of the slow beginning, which sets up this universe, each story is different, yet still manages to tie in common events just enough to provide continuity and flow.
A few specific characters show up in most of the stories, but overall, the stories can stand alone, and actually weave together just enough to move an overall storyline along. My favorite Ace was one that hibernates, and when he awakens, has a different set of powers, good or bad, as well as a different body. There are definitely many others and you'll find your favorite, too. What I found most interesting, was that some characters I first thought were Aces actually were Jokers, and vice versa - Be ready for a few surprises.
If you want elegant prose that trips softly off the tongue, stop here. This is written in the language of the people reflected in each story, so you'll feel that this is almost a recording of the events, allbeit in a very positive way. Some of the writers provide a deep backstory, others build an action-heavy drama. All-in-all, this is a nice mix of writing that you'll enjoy. Do keep in mind that this series is so popular, that a good number of followup books were written in similar fashion. No surprise there.
In a few words, this audiobook is a delight, and if, after you're finished hearing it, quickly buy the second in the series, I wouldn't be surprised in the least. You'll like this one. I know I do.
If you follow my reviews, you know that I like to roll the dice, to randomly buy a series on a whim, on the luck of the draw. Sometimes, it's a bust.
This time, it's a definite win, but if you go by how the series was created, you'd probably run in the opposite direction.
Here's one for the books: Jim Butcher is well-known for his "Dresden Files" series, created a fantastic fantasy series on a BET. Yep, a bet. Read on.
To quote the Codex Alera Wiki site, "the inspiration for the series came from a bet Jim was challenged to by a member of the Delray Online Writer’s Workshop. The challenger bet that Jim could not write a good story based on a lame idea, and Jim countered that he could do it using two lame ideas of the challenger’s choosing. The “lame” ideas given were “Lost Roman Legion", and “Pokémon”.
It DOES sound lame.
Well, Butcher makes it work. To the nines.
I've finished this first novel, and I'm enjoying this unique story line of humans with Roman similarities binding with elemental furies. Add unique races, backstabbing, politics, military battles, duels and an interwoven story line that pulls it all together, and you get a fantastic story that's simply put, a VERY VERY good listen.
The whole concept of fighting alongside elemental familiars used here is wonderfully executed. It's deep, well-thought magic-based partnership of man and magical creature is a pleasure to experience.
So, what about the writing?
Again, if you follow my reviews, you know that I love ENGAGING fantasy or scifi writing. Anything less won't do. And this is definitely engaging. There's great characters that plot, backstab, challenge, fight for their beliefs, devour their enemies, and celebrate their victories. You're taken on a great romp of a story, and in the end, isn't that what we all want in a good listen?
I know I do, and I so enjoyed this first audiobook in the series, that I bought the entire series. Yep. And I'm not disappointed with the decision.
Who knew that Lost Roman Legions and Pokemon could knock it out of the park?
Home run, Jim. Home run.
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