Gretna, LA, USA | Member Since 2006
Having ready a good number of books, this ranks fairly well. This tale is set against the rich history of the era of the Italian Merchant Princes, and if the story alone was simply historic, you'd walk away wanting to read more. It was an era of unobstructed larceny coupled with a sudden flood of wealth to fuel even the darkest ambitions. Family politics (Think mafia), clandestine societies, cults, and plans within plans within plans were the norm of this fantastic period in history. Now, couple this with a fantastic scifi premise, along with ancient artifacts, and you have a GREAT story. Of course, this is a series of books taken from the "Assassin's Creed" series, and there's always a concern about whether or not the plot, writing, substance, and flow is worthy of any good listener's (or reader's) time. Rest easy, this one is, and you'll be glad you've read it. I will NOT give the plot's detail away in this review, nor character studies, NOR key turing points in the story. That being said, I WILL definitely tell you that the assassin's guild concept is based on history, and bringing it to life is no casual thing. No it's not as deep as the DUNE novels (I love them, but let's save that kind of deep thinking right now for solving world peace.), but machiavellian plans within plans are this society's "cup of tea," and the author will thrust you into into this dark, foreboding, fascinating era with no regrets.
This doesn't compare to many sci-fi or historical books, as it actually fits into an ALTERNATE REALITY genre. I'd compare not the style, but the scope, to Newt Gingrich's Gettysberg series, where the South eventual won the Civil War, but with more emotion and definitely more machiavellian in-fighting. Also, if you like Harry Turtledove's writings, his work may be a more apt comparison, but you'll decide this, once you've read the first audiobook in the series.
Jackson' s narrations are, by the way, quite enjoyable, and set the stage for the era. The dialects used seem extremely genuine, as I have a GOOD number of Italians and Sicilians on my wife's side of the family.
There were too many excellent moments in this audiobook to focus on, without giving away key points to the story. That cripples a review, but so be it. I WILL say that it has the depth and emotional content expected of a good listen/read, and you'll walk away ready to move on to the next audiobook in the series.
Audiobook listeners, just like book readers, are both varied in opinion, yet passionate for a good listen/read that will hold their attention, leave them wanting more, and cause friendly but heated arguments around a dinner table. Well, this is one of those reads. If you like rich history, dramatic depth, a superb plot, and a scifi twist thrown in to move the story even further down the road, stop reading my review, and get this audiobook. Enjoy!
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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