Gretna, LA, USA | Member Since 2006
First penned in 1983, this underrated series of books is finally making its way to Audible. I know - I was one of the underraters. I've loved science fiction and fantasy since I could read, so we're talking half a century, and yet, I never could get past the covers of certain books. Tragic but true. I saw these novels on the bookshelf, and I didn't connect with the back cover brief, nor the garish covers (Sorry, Steven). I was, and sometimes still am, prejudice in that way.
But I stray.
During my lifetime, I HAVE often stepped out and acquired many unknown author's books, and have been both happily rewarded and nightmarishly punished. Look at my numbers and reviews here at Audible. I finally did acquire Jhereg: Vlad Talos, the first audiobook in the series.
I should have read these books a long time ago.
Mix swords, sorcery, and assassination with a European feel. Now, add a dash of machiavellian intrigue, and this is Brust's series, plain and simple. Exceptional character creation and interaction, twists, turns, and good narration. It all comes together for the truly enjoyable audiobook, and I can't sing it's praises highly enough.
Am I going to give anything away as to the plots, characters, creatures and tonality? If you look at my other reviews, I rarely if ever do that for good works of writing - It's not fair to you, the reader/listener. If a book or series is exceptional, it's because of the voyage of discovery.
I won't reveal the depths of the world-spanning Dragaeran Empire, nor it's death grip on society. I'd not dare detail how the Tekla House is only one of the seventeen rising and falling houses of power within the empire. I'd never delve into the intricacies of the ominous Paths of the Dead, the Imperial Orb, nor the Jhereg Dragon lords and their insidious plot to...
I'll stop there. You get the idea.
This is, simply put, good writing. Don't do like I did. Don't miss out for so many years on a great series worthy of your Audible credits, time, and appreciation. Get the first book, and listen and judge for yourself. And you'll probably buy the rest of the books.
Steven, I can admit when I'm wrong, and this is the case in this great first book in the series. I'll be making up for the lost time by acquiring the remainder.
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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