Gretna, LA, USA | Member Since 2014
Joe Abercrombie is an excellent writer, and I own his other audiobooks, and love them ALL, so when I saw this audiobook arrive, it was a "must buy" for me. However, it's a bit different from his previous works.
Don't get me wrong - It's very good. It's...well... a...umm... western?
Yep. That's right, pardner. A western movie snuggled up in a fantasy setting. Think I'm off on this? Here's the quote from the back of the hardcover copy:
"They burned her home. They stole her brother and sister. But vengeance is following.
Shy South hoped to bury her bloody past and ride away smiling, but she’ll have to sharpen up some bad old ways to get her family back, and she’s not a woman to flinch from what needs doing. She sets off in pursuit with only a pair of oxen and her cowardly old stepfather Lamb for company. But it turns out Lamb’s buried a bloody past of his own, and out in the lawless Far Country, the past never stays buried.
Their journey will take them across the barren plains to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feud, duel and massacre, high into the unmapped mountains to a reckoning with the Ghosts. Even worse, it will force them into alliance with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune, and his feckless lawyer Temple, two men no one should ever have to trust…"
Wow...and a bit of a spaghetti western, at that.
Again, it's great, but you'll be TOTALLY reminded of True Grit. (Mattie Ross, Rooster Cogburn, Ned Pepper, Lawyer J. Noble Daggett, etc...) You sort of know the path it will take, and in this order: Tragedy, pain, passion, resolve, tribulation, confrontation, and justice.
But don't get cocky.
This doesn't make it bad, just a tiny bit predictable; But not completely. J.A. throws enough twists and reversals in this to make you sit back, scratch your head, and pay attention. He provides great characters with "character," not shallow furniture for his literary stage. As usual, I found myself liking certain characters, disliking others, not for their position in the novel, but because of how the author fleshed them out - And that's a GOOD thing.
This is an audiobook worthy of your listening time, and although it's somewhat of a sidestep from his wonderful series, it's enjoyable, and a fitting reason to use your hard-earned Audible credit. It was for me.
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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