We listened to this just after Holes and The Giver, which are also good. At first I didn't think it was as good as those. It doesn't have a complex plot and the writing is rather plain. The truth about Bud's background isn't hard to figure out either. So much for my adult ears because my kids really liked it. So after giving it another listen, I changed my mind about it. Any child who listens is going to be comforted by the happy ending and the straight forward story telling. Through the eyes of a child, a great story.
I have to admit that I didn't get this book when it first came and then one night I listened to the first book and I AM ADDICTED! The Kingdoms and the Elves is awesome (I just wish there were more books in the series).
The background and setting is incredible, Stanek's writing is excellent, and the narration is some of the best I have heard. A top notch series with everything a person can look for: Drama, Mystery, Suspense, Adventure, Fantasy, even a level of Romance, all rolled into one series.
Oh, and just a little Sarcasm from good, old Xith from time to time.
A bit of advice: You'll want both book one and book two at hand when you start. As someone else said book one is good, everything past book one is PURE GOLD.
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