Gretna, LA, USA | Member Since 2014
If you've read any of my reviews of Chalker's work, then you know I'm one of his biggest fans. Why? Simple. He frequently twists the scifi and fantasy genres, writes deep adult literature that engages, devises exceptional plot lines, crafts characters with "character," and throws our perceptions of what to expect on it's ear.
In two words: "He delivers."
And in Chalker's Soul Rider series, he delivers all of those things, and in spades.
Now, prepare yourself. This isn't for children. It's for adults, and at times it will push your buttons severely. It will challenge your perceptions of the sexes, may upset you, and does not give you a huge background story upfront (It's revealed MUCH later.). So, you know what this means, dear Audible reader.
Uh oh - You're going to have to THINK.
Will I tell you the premise? Some of it, but nowhere near all. Why? Because as usual, I feel the journey can be spoiled, especially in this fantastic series. Also, Chalker gives no hints, and I want you to at least have a bit of background. So, pay attention - Here we go.
Imagine a world draped in the fog of flux powers drifting on the winds, a paradise, purgatory and hell combined, one that humans can, if they have the very rare ability, control the flux, to "magic" the very forces of nature around them, to even change the minds, passions and bodies of men and women. They can, with enough flux control, craft cities and even command nature to create a personal paradise out in the flux. Imagine cities sparsely scattered across the landscape, each unique, each having a tenuous hold against these unbridled powers that vie for control. Each holds back the flux and its wizards at bay by resorting to totalitarian, religious, military or even otherworldly sway over their masses to maintain control and wealth.
These powers are not judicial in their choice of who can shape the flux - Heroes, villains, maniacs, zealots...there are no moral boundaries of who is chosen, and the few cities across the flux have their own a shaky and tenuous trade agreements maintained by stringers, humans who trade goods, services, and even people to their own ends. Wizards themselves, they live out in the flux, but like anyone who rides the flux, you stay in the flux too long, YOU become twisted in your own dark nightmares, and eventually are driven insane.
But there is more...
There are dark forces, unseen and unexpected, beneath all this. Inhuman. Unfeeling. They have a sweeping, world-changing plan. And they have chosen a human to join with, to make this a reality. And the human host has no idea that this has already begun.
Would you believe there's more? A LOT more?
Well, there is, and again, Chalker DELIVERS. I read this series a long time ago, and consider it timeless and required reading. This thought-provking and challenging listen and its sisters in the series belong in any Audible fantasy or scifi listener's collection. You'll listen to this more than once, because it's incredibly rich in story, and you'll get more out of each listen.
So, its Christmas in February! Thanks, Audible! This is a present that I won't return!
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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