It is not a story of adventurers on a quest in a strange, new environment. It is a more of a detective murder trial mystery, with action and political intrigue backdrop. In some places it had the feel of enjoying a Kill Bill or James Bond action scene. The detective part is most of the story with action scenes along the way. The mystery is not obvious, so several theories of whodunnit and why occurred to me at different points. The creatures and magic are givens described, without system or theoretical explanations, which is how D&D is supposed to be. The main character is in the Defenders, which is like an order of Marshals or the Pinkertons who operate in and for several kingdoms and their courts, and she has a reputation some like and some don’t. She and the other main characters are interesting and complex, not 2D and stupid, so that adults can actually enjoy the story. There is no graphic sex, blood and guts, and almost no romance aspect -thankfully on all 3 counts as those are different generas. Flashbacks to a previous event occur and help to add body to the story and characters but you don't need to have read whatever book that is from, if there actually is one. It did not seem like catch-up stuff but there to add depth to the present.
I liked the narration. A few of the nonhuman voices are a little strange but they are dwarves and other creatures so I would have expected this and it seemed right to me.
Most of the books in this new D&D Audible section seem to be recently released and I didn’t see any reviews yet so I thought I should add one.
My review title is because I noticed this one several times and passed because I don’t like stories so large in scope and world-import as gods interacting much or warring. But this book actually doesn’t have that so I wanted people with similar tastes to not let the title fool you.
The main character human is a 20 something, not a child, whose career plans didn’t work out. The human who may or may not have formerly been a dragon is interesting and contrasts well with the MC (and others). The bounty hunter is half-orc. There are some other interesting creatures in (and under) the city. The audio sample introduces what causes the overall plot but the rest of the story happens in the different parts of the interesting City of Splendors. It is more like Murder in Halruaa or Murder in Cormyr in tone. But it’s not a murder mystery but of the maybe-former dragon and a potential threat to the city. Along the way the MC deals with what to do now that her first career choice didn’t work out. I liked it and the characters.
It starts out with a small crew battling off pirates at sea. Quirky, gritty, realistic characters make up the small crew. Some are generous, ungenerous and suspicious, young and timid, older and cantankerous, with a constant sarcastically joking banter, and fiercely loyal to each other. Flashbacks help fill them and their story out. The flashbacks also help explain the overall plot. The story also covers characters in other locations that relate to and eventually meet up with the plotline. None are stereotypes, few are very powerful, but most are complex and realistic characters so it was easier to identify with, take seriously, and care about them the challenges they face.
When things turn out to not be what they were supposed to the mission changes. Shipboard, slogging and fighting through the jungle and creatures, discovering unforeseen plot angles, ancient ruins, and a little castle conniving. It had great action scenes, mystery, some political intrigue, and surprising plot twists. At various points it had the tone or flavor of Serenity, old jungle exploring adventure movies, Indiana Jones, and The Mummy. It doesn’t end in a cliff hanger but a character has decides to start a new a new effort that could be a next novel. I immediately got the next novel in the series but it is a different thing altogether. A great writer, I can’t wait for her next stand-alone novel.
The narration was really good with a variety of voices that fit the characters but spoken too fast, without enough (sometimes any) pause between phrases and sentences. Not so fast that I couldn’t enjoy the story but in many places it made it hard to follow and I had to rewind and this detracted.
This was much less of what was good and much more of what was annoying in the first book. A pity because the first novel in this series was really good. I’m not sure I follow the thinking involved in most D&D novels. D&D players and the market was and I assume still is primarily young men (or they were when they first started playing).
There are story qualities that often appeal to both men and women. There are some that appeal to one and don’t interest the other yet they don’t find it annoying. Then there are qualities that appeal to one and annoy the other (e.g., musicals, porn, romance novels). As an author, I would not include any of the latter so as to not run-off potential customers. But, if, for some inexplicable reason, you are going to include the latter kind… why would you choose the kind that is likely to annoy the majority of the market that might consider buying your product?
This novel is mostly about soap opera like relationships and plots, wherein a couple of characters gingerly approach discovering and ultimately admitting they have romantic feelings for each other. Any adventuring is incidental and mucked up with that Barney the Dinosaur vibe which was only slightly present in the first novel. IMHO it is not D&D or even Fantasy but a Romance genera novel.
The main character wakes in a tavern inn with tattooed arms and no clue why and what happened. Now she thinks of it, she only has hazy memories of the past year. She doesn’t know what the hell and been going on but is darn sure gonna find out, who branded her and why. She sets out, one adventure leads to the next, is joined by some interesting characters for their own various reasons along the way, until we finally find out. This is the first in a series but good as a stand-alone novel. We have something lizard man like, a singing thief grafter or bard, merchant trading company wizard, a dragon, a calmari, and all sorts of encounters from upper middle class engagement party, to mountain passes and caves, etc.
What I liked so much about this book is that it starts simple, both as to characters and story scope, and then grows as you go, so that I bought it. I felt like I got to know them so they had a less lame and more genuine feel to them. I was not rolling my eyes as the authors tried to make me their characters’ psychiatrist, and having them and their “stuff” deluged onto me and me hoping I had some dry towels.
It had a much more Connan the Barbarian feel to it than Lord of the Rings, which is what a D&D novel should be IMHO. Opinions vary but to me: Fantasy is for LOTR types and D&D for CTB types of stories. Otherwise why bother having two different genera or looking in one instead of the other to find the kind of story you want if their content is the same? I think of it this way: if the whopper were a big mac but with a different name, then burger king would never have taken off.
More Romance novel than D&D
Seems to me this is Romance genera or you might stretch to say it is what the Fantasy genera has been mostly turned into. A guy stumbles across the daughter of a woman he desired beyond reason in a small town. He must have her. Sound like a few generas you know so far? Porn or Romance, depending on what happens next. But wait, there’s more. She knows not who he is, he is a powerful sociopath, and the chase begins. She is the victim and fears she is losing her mind (for the psychobabble content ingredient), he the crazy bad guy (the demonized and/or denigrated must be male), there is also a good guy (well, maybe he is), there may or may not be sex involved (thankfully not in this book) etc. This is a Romance novel, not D&D.
I’m not saying porn for women should not exist. Musicals too, I guess. Different strokes for different folks. But does it have to be everywhere, all the time? It would be nice if we could at least keep this stuff, whichever kind it is, whoever it is written for, in its own genera so the unsuspecting don’t stumble across it and have that “ewwww” moment. A little consideration or proper categorization should not be asking too much.
The 1 audio file included ends at chapter 13 and there is no second file. I wasn’t completely sure until the third novel refers to things the author obviously were included in the second. Mirya is not yet rescued in chapter 13 but the third book refers to those scenes and other events that would have been in chapters 14 and higher. Also, there are completely blank, silent setions of about a minute in several places. Something must have gone wrong with the audio producing software. I probably would have given this one 4 stars because what there was in the audio file was like the first. There were some pretty surprising events. The overall plot is basically like the first except in the opponents and how it works out. Garen rescues a gal on the beach, commands a ship and goes pirate hunting, and then a battle for the city happens again. Of course, I don’t know exactly how it turns out due to the missing chapters and was a bit surprised where the family was located in the opening of the third book because that part was not included in the file that made up this second audiobook.
The focus is more on the individual characters point of view and memories within a small town and an extended family of the Harmac (their name for city-state Baron). They are an earthy crew, no high-tea stuff, and it is a small town of mostly working class people. It does not confusingly jump around from past to present. The past is given to us in the characters remembering and commenting on what happened, which I thought gave a better feel to the local culture. It has strong male and female characters which seemed genuine instead of lame. I hate stupid characters and ones the audience is supposed to like, but given every reason to not even respect, much less identify with, and we don’t get that much here, thankfully. The bad guy dialog makes them sound dumber than they are because most do some decent strategizing and tactical thinking and this offset the dialog for me. The plot of this novel and other two of this series are about various forces seeking take control of this land between larger economic powers. Even so, it doesn’t have that huge scale, epic feel I don’t like in my D&D stories so I liked all three novels.
This one occurs after City of Ravens, long after. While much like the first novel, it is different. Jack wakes up in a strange place and doesn’t know what happened. Much of the novel has him adjusting to the new time and circumstances. Only his long lived, dwarf, tavern owning friend and Myrkyssa, now freed from the stone, return along with Jack in this one. But many new and interesting characters are here. While there are not as many plots and adventures as the first novel, there are plenty enough. He tries to get back into the swing of his old conniving, adventuring life.
The narration is perfect for Jack but also the other characters. Paul has a great character-actor’s ear and voice this performance is right up there with Steven Pacey and other greats.
The main character is Jack, city rouge with some self-taught innate magic of a few spells. Not a tough guy grifter but more of a Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and jewel thief type. The story has none of that offense tone of trying to pretend the stealing and confidence games are somehow moral. He is what independent rogues and thieves and rogues actually are in reality: slippery weasels who still have some moral standards and things they will not do. He makes for an amusing character and gets into some interesting scrapes.
It is not one of those epic, world ending plots or crusades in scope, thankfully. Jack burgles homes, is taking an actual noble young lady to a series of Game of Masks balls, and dungeon delving under the city to get particular items for reward. A tavern owning dwarf, halflings, and humans tend to make up the crew of his jobs. It turns out, though, someone has a bigger plot to take over the city and Jack gets gets tangled up in that too. Adventurous, light, funny –exactly what a D&D novel should be IMHO.
The narration is really good and while this is a stand-alone novel Audible also has Prince of Ravens with Jack.
The synopsis is inaccurate. Diran used to be an assassin, felt saved by a faith, and is now a member of the order of priests who travel around and kill or dispel evil things; vapires, liches, etc. He was a killer, he still is, the difference being what and why. His half orc pal also fought in the last war but as a warrior merc and not an assassin and has decided to travel and help him in his mission, though he does not worship the same faith. The past that catches up with him is an assassin he used to know and at first he does not know if she is there to kill him or has also left the assassin company and looking to rekindle their personal relationship.
The characters and plot are pretty good for a D&D novel of this kind. A fleet of pirates with vampires invades the town and capture slaves to take to their stronghold and Diran and co are off to try and find the place. They have a few adventures while heading toward their main goal, with some characters joining the party. It is good as a standalone but there are 2 other novels in the series.
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