You no longer follow Steve H. Caldwell

You will no longer see updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can re-follow a user if you change your mind.

OK

You now follow Steve H. Caldwell

You will receive updates from this user when they write new reviews, or suggestions based on their library or recommendations.

You can unfollow a user if you change your mind.

OK

Steve H. Caldwell

Tacoma, WA | Member Since 2017

384
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 209 reviews
  • 215 ratings
  • 1189 titles in library
  • 94 purchased in 2018
FOLLOWING
6
FOLLOWERS
14

  • The Crimson Vault: The Traveler's Gate Trilogy, Volume 2

    • UNABRIDGED (14 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Will Wight
    • Narrated By Will Wight
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (274)
    Performance
    (247)
    Story
    (247)

    As the conflict between Enosh and Damasca builds to war, Simon finds himself caught in the middle. Alin is bound by prophecy to the Grandmasters of Enosh, but he begins to doubt his fate when he discovers that their talk of freedom hides a darker agenda. Leah has never questioned her loyalty to Damasca. Now, she finds that allegiance tested as she is forced to oppose her own rebellious brother. With these two powers on the brink of open war, the land soon trembles in the face of an even greater threat.

    Mike says: "Great original story!"
    "One of my favorite series, getting even better!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is book to in the Travelers Gate trilogy, and really is an excellent addition to the series. A lot of second of three books are just placeholders, but not this one. This very definitely move the story along and advances the character's growth.Simon and Leah both have great character growth, and there are some major changes for a lot of the other characters, too. There is also a lot of the backstory for the other Valinhall Travelers filled in in a series of flashbacks. The plotting is fast paced, the battles are extremely well done and action packed, and you can really sympathize with the characters. There is also a lot more magic used in this one, really showcasing a lot more of what each terrritory brings to the table as far as magic. I think this is a uniquee kind of series, playing against tropes, but if anything in style is close, it's Brandon Sanderson's work. Will Wight self narrated this, and he has gotten better over the course of the two books so far, really gaining in confidence as a narrator. I recommend this book and series to any fan of Brandon Sanderson, you wont be disappointed.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Shrouds of Darkness: Brooklyn Shadows, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Brock Deskins
    • Narrated By Steven Jay Cohen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (28)

    New York has a problem few are aware of. Creatures of myth and darkness prowl the night-shrouded streets, preying on those who won’t be missed. At least, those are the rules. Bodies are turning up, and their deaths are far from natural. Our kind’s existence depends on remaining nothing more than folklore and fairy tales, but someone has decided to break the rules. Now, it’s my job to stop a conspiracy before it threatens to expose the truth about vampires and werewolves. My name is Leo Malone.

    Natalie @ ABookLoversLife says: "Entertaining. "
    "Excellent start to an urban fantasy series."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    With the slew of vampire urban fantasy that has hit the shelves in recent years, from romance with vampires to gritty urban grimdark, I wasn't sure where this would fit into that group. While the idea of a vampire detective isn't new, Brock Deskins' Leo Malone is definitely a great character who brings an added dimension of humor and determination you don't see in a lot of this type of character.

    When a mob accountant is accosted outside his office by a gang of rival thugs, things get hairy, literally, as he turns out to be a werewolf. That's bad, since supernaturals are supposed to keep it hidden, and shredding some gangsters isn't very subtle. The vampire leadership is quite keen and strict about keeping it hidden from the humans.

    This brings Leo Malone onto the case when the accountants adult children hire Leo to find out what happened to their father. The case turns out to be much more complicated that its seems, Since it seems there are forces that don't want him found, and will do anything to keep him from being found. Leo's complicated relationship with the vampire Elders isn't helping, as they would rather see him dead if they could than anything else. As he delves further into the disappearance, he discovers a much larger conspiracy that that threatens not only his life but exposure of the supernatural community in general, which could have far reaching consequences for all the supernatural nations.

    Like his other books, Shrouds is a character driven book. The urban setting is fun, and you get immersed in it, but the characters are where the action is at, especially Leo. His attitude towards life and the vampire nation in general really make him a sympathetic character. You really root for him, even as he snarks his way from one discovery to the next. The secondary characters are well fleshed out as well, and the plotting if fast paced and never lags.

    Steven Jay Cohen does his usual excellent job of bringing the story and characters to life. His Leo voice may be my absolute favorite he does. Just the right amount of snark for the part. His narrative pace is spot on, and smoothly flows throughout the book. He is definitely a reason to consider getting the audio version.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Brutal: Brutal Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By James Alderdice
    • Narrated By Liam Gerrard
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    The Sellsword knows an opportunity when he sees one. When he rides into the border city of Aldreth, he can tell that the power struggle between two feuding wizards needs a solitary spark to ignite into all-out-war. As he sets the corrupt paladins and demonic adepts against each other, he's not surprised when the blood begins to flow.... But after the alluring duchess catches his eye, the Sellsword puts himself in harm's way to protect her and the innocent people of Aldreth. To save the noble few, spells and blades won't stop the Sellsword from leaving a swath of carnage in his wake....

    Steve H. Caldwell says: "Fantastic fantasy!"
    "Fantastic fantasy!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    You know the old Western movie trope of the man with no name riding into a border town with two gangs feuding over control of the city, and going out and cleaning house? Well, James Alderdice takes that old trope of many a Clint Eastwood movie, places it in a medieval type setting, then proceeds to turn the whole thing on it's head and make it his own! This leads to the creation of a unique, brutal, dark and at times humorous story with an interesting collection of characters.

    The book starts out with the man who becomes known as Sellsword attacked by bandits on the way to the small city of Aldrith. He dispatches them like the boss he is, although his horse falls off a cliff during the fight. Shame, it was a good horse. He then travels on foot towards Aldrith, and discovers the city, although it has a Duke, power is actually split between two warring wizards. There is also a group of dark cultists in the mix, as well as a dark version of the kingdom's religion stirring the volatile mixture of power politics.

    Arriving at the Duke's manor, Sellsword finds the Duke gone, but does meet the Duchess. Receiving a note, the Duchess leaves suddenly. It turns out The Duke was murdered, setting off a chain event of actions as people, including the Duchess, scramble for power. Sellsword starts to approach each party offering his services. This leads to some epic fights, as Sellsword goes and proves his worth to the various parties. The best, and both most hilarious and gory, example of this is when he goes to the local casino run by one of the wizards and asks to see the wizard. when told no, he tells the guards to disarm themselves or he will. all six of them then rush him, where he proceeds to disarm them by removing all their arms! This type of dark humor runs throughout the book. He also runs into the town Paladins, basically the constabulary, who are corrupt and work for the highest bidder, and has several run ins with them.

    This is the mix the Sellsword has to deal with, as alliances shift, plots are hatched and tensions boil to the breaking point as each side jockeys for the ultimate power in the town, with an unseen menace over it all providing even worse danger. With some epic city battles, betrayals on all sides and shocking revelations, the plot rushes forward headlong into the final confrontation that will determine the fate of the city!

    This book has everything I look for in a fantasy book. Its dark tonally, with just enough humor to keep it from becoming brooding. The setting is well drawn out, reminding me of classic hives of villainy and scum like Lankhmar and Sanctuary without being a knockoff of them. You really get a feel for the city, feeling as though you are right there on the streets. The characters are all very well written, from the mysterious Sellsword to the Duchess through all the other supporting characters. The villains, of which there are several, are some of the best I can remember in recent memory for a small scale story that isn't world shaking. The reasons behind their actions are reasonable in their own minds, and actually make some of them even a bit sympathetic. Sellsword, though, is the star of the show. He is a mystery, but you can piece together the mystery of his identity with the clues you're left. He is definitely one of my favorite characters in recent memory.

    I had never heard Liam Gerrard narrate before, but I was extremely happy to discover him. He has an excellent range, and he really brings the various characters to life. He uses a variety of tones and accents to differentiate the characters, and he has excellent pacing on the narration parts. I am definitely keeping an eye out for his work in the future.

    Overall, this is one of the top stories I've read in the last couple years. I would rank it up with Nicholas Eames's Kings of the Wyld, Ed. McDonald's Blackwing and CT Phipps Wraith Knight as my favorite reads of the last year. Definitely a recommended read!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Darkstorm: The Rhenwars Saga, Book 0

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By M. L. Spencer
    • Narrated By Simon Wright
    Overall
    (16)
    Performance
    (14)
    Story
    (14)

    Braden and Quin Reis share a tragic past, but it’s now up to them to save the future. When a secret conspiracy resorts to harnessing the powers of the Netherworld to save their legacy, Braden and Quin are the only mages capable of stopping them. But these two would-be heroes are compromised, harboring terrible secrets. Can Braden and Quin put aside their differences long enough to prevent the unsealing of the Well of Tears? Or will they relent and join the conspiracy?

    Natalie @ ABookLoversLife says: "Entertaining dark fantasy. "
    "Smashes fantasy tropes to bits!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I had this series recommended to me by several friends who told me that it takes one fantasy trope after another and smashes them to pieces on the alter of Grimdark. Well, being a huge fan of grimdark, I got excited by the idea of something original, not just another Prince of Thorns or Before They Are Hanged knockoff...err, homage. I am happy to report that not only was this true, but the author took those tropes and burned them to ashes. What is left is an original, swerve filled race to a conclusion you just will not see coming. On that note, we'll get into the review.

    When apprentice mage Merris finds out she is going to be kicked out of the mages guild, she follows the head of her guild out one night to try and dig up some dirt on him that would allow her to use the information to fend off her removal. What she discovers instead of some midnight assignation or other such scandal puts her life, and the very fate of the world, in jeopardy. She comes across a group of mages not only from her city-state of Aerysius, but from the neighboring city-state of Bryn Calazar, which are a hairs breadth from war with each other, involved in a dark ritual with netherworld powers. After she escapes, she goes to see her mentor, Sephana, who she discovers is having an illicit romance with the ambassador from Bryn Calazar, Braden, who helps her escape to Bryn Calazar by sending her to his brother Quin. How much this helps is debatable, since Bryn Calazar is most definitely a patriarchy, unless you have status as a mage as a woman. The problem is, Quin is a drunken wreck.

    After convincing Quin of her bonifides, Quin and Merris approach the head of his mage guild, and this is where everything goes pear shaped, as they are unexpectedly betrayed in the guild hall and end up on the run. Meanwhile, in Aerysius, Braden and Sephana are captured trying to spy on the cabal, and they are transported to a secret base in Calazar lands. The conspirators, all high ranking mages, explain to Braden what they are about. They are trying to head off the end of magic and civilization as they know it, as magic is going to have a polarity shift, killing all mages and destroying anything created with magic, like buildings in cities. The cabalists have decided the power of the dark god in his Netherworld will allow them to hold the polarity shift off for a thousand years. All it will cost them is their souls, and a bunch of human sacrifices...

    This leads to a wild second half of the book, as Quin, Braden, Sephana and Merris try and work against the cabal, which has power throughout the highest levels of both kingdoms. There is epic magic battles, giant cavalry battles as there is an uprising against the cabal by Braden's people, which all leads to the final confrontation between the cabal and those trying to stop them. There is also a huge betrayal you don't see coming which costs those trying to stop the evil a member, and which definitely effected the outcome. Definitely a grimdark ending, although there may be a ray of hope, however slight, even with the sacrifices made.

    The characters are the true strength of this book. While the setting was well described and gave you a feeling of being there and the plot is fast paced and never lagged in the slightest, what happens with the characters is really what hooks you. Whether it's Quin's self destructive behavior, Braden's quest to do right for his kingdom whether it wants it or not, or Merris trying to maintain the life she has, you really care about what happens to them. When you find out the details from their past's it really humanizes them. Even if some of it makes them less sympathetic, Their flaws just make them that much more believable. The villains, who are actually trying to do what they see as right, are well drawn out, and even somewhat sympathetic. They do evil for a greater good, which you don't see too often. There isn't a mustache twirl in the group. It really is a well thought out group of characters.

    I had never heard Simon Wright narrate before this book, but I found him to be a compelling voice. He really put the effort in to bring the characters to life, whether male or female, no matter the voice or accent. His pacing on the narration is spot on, and he keeps you engaged in the story, waiting to see what happens next. Definitely a voice to check out.

    All in all, this is a fantastic addition to the grimdark fantasy ranks, as good as anything put out by the big names like Cook, Martin, Abercrombie and Lawrence, and actually maybe a hair better than a couple of those! This is a prequel to a larger series, so it will be interesting to see what the decisions made in this one lead to in the future of the series

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Sorcerer's Ascension: The Sorcerer's Path, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Brock Deskins
    • Narrated By William Turbett
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (30)

    Torn from a life of comfort and luxury, his family destroyed by political intrigues and aspirations, a young boy must quickly grow into a man before the deadly streets of Southport devour him. Follow Azerick through a non-stop adventure that pits him against thieves, thugs, murderers, and men of power that will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. Azerick must fight just to survive, but for him survival is not enough. A hunger to avenge the wrongs committed against him burns deep within. But that is not all that lies within the young man. There is a power waiting to be unleashed that may be the key to achieving the justice and security he seeks...if it does not destroy him first.

    Natalie @ ABookLoversLife says: "Engaging and entertaining. "
    "Fantastic start to a dark fantasy series!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I went into this one without any preconceptions, other than knowing I had enjoyed the author's urban fantasy novel Shroud of Darkness. I found that though this is a completely different book, it was just as enjoyable. After reading this, I felt that this was what The Name of the Wind should have been if the main character wasn't a complete Mary Sue.

    When Azerick, son of a wealthy sea trader, has his father executed after he was framed for treason, He and his mother lose everything to the local Duke. They end up living in an inn his mother works at as a server. When she is violently murdered and he is thrown out, Azerick returns after dark, breaks in gets his stuff back, and after struggling with and incapacitating the innkeeper who stole their belongings, burns the inn to the ground.

    This sets Azerick on a path he could never have foreseen. Squatting in an abandoned building, he is found by a group of squatters and joins their ranks. When a dispute with the thieves guild destroys his new family, Azerick declares war on the thieves, getting his revenge in the cruelest way possible. After a series of run ins with the Mages guild, it is discovered Azerick has magical ability and he is allowed to start training at the guild academy, where the children of rich and noble scions train. Obviously, as a poor orphan, he butts heads with the other students, especially the biggest bully boy, Travis. As you can expect, a boy used to living by his wits and strength on the street is not going to take bullying lying down. This theme continues throughout the book, as Azerick, who is very smart and understands magic theory very well, struggles to cast spells beyond a certain simple level, although he does excel in academic subjects and alchemy.

    This changes when it is discovered that Azerick is a sorcerer, not a wizard, meaning his spell casting is self determined, not cast by rote spells. With this revelation, and a new master to tutor him, his spell casting is greatly improved. As time passes, and his rivalry with Travis reaches its final climax in a duel, Azerick discovers a secret that may effect the safety of the world, and he must determine what he needs to do and where his loyalties lie. This ties into a side plot dealing with the kingdoms founding as it's dragon overlords were overthrown with the help of five suits of magic armor that are now in play in a power play for the throne.

    The characters are a real strength of this book, especially Azerick. His struggles after his families fall and subsequent successes and failures really tempered his personality. He is a hard young man, willing to take the harshest measures for revenge and to protect those he loves. What he did to the man who killed his mother and to the thieves guild show that no measure is too radical to achieve his goals, for good or ill. The secondary characters, from his best friend to his mentor are well thought out and have well rounded personalities. The villains, whether Travis or the Duke and his henchmen, are loathsome but believable, being drawn to power and the ability to abuse it.

    The setting is well thought out and well described, with lots of detail without going overboard. The plot and prose flow well, with lots of action, but some introspection as well, as the events unfold to show the grander conspiracy and how it connects to Azerick.The final portion of the book is like a roller coaster ride leading to Azerick and Travis's inevitable confrontation, and has a satisfying payoff. All told, a dark but enjoyable beginning to a series.

    I was unfamiliar with William Turbett's narration before this book, but I am happy to have discovered him. He brings each character a unique life of their own, with a variety of tones and accents, and his pacing is very solid. He makes you want to keep listening as he brings the story to life.

    I have heard that this book was compared to The Name of the Wind in a negative way. I find that odd, since while it deals with similar characters, it goes in very different directions, with the characters having different methods and motivations. I would recommend this story to anyone who would like a different take, a darker one, on a coming of age tale, with well rounded characters and real struggle and pathos.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • I Was a Teenage Weredeer: Bright Falls Mysteries Series, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By C. T. Phipps, Michael Suttkus
    • Narrated By Arielle DeLisle
    Overall
    (23)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (23)

    Jane Doe is a weredeer, the least-threatening shapechanger species in the world. Blessed with the ability to turn furry at will and psychically read objects, Jane has done her best to live a normal life working as a waitress at the Deerlightful Diner. She has big dreams of escaping life in the supernatural-filled town of Bright Falls, Michigan. Unfortunately, her 18th birthday is ruined by the sudden murder of her best friend's sister in an apparent occult killing. Oh, and her brother is the primary suspect.

    Natalie @ ABookLoversLife says: "My favourite by this author!! "
    "A great new Urban Fantasy! "
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    Based in the same universe as the Straight Outta Fangton vampire series, I Was A Teenage Weredeer has the same comedic sensibility, but tackles a completely different aspect of the supernatural world. That would be the world of wereshifters, drug in to the spotlight with the vampires when the vampires bailed out the US government during the last economic meltdown, in exchange for equal rights and protection. Unfortunately for the shifters, they weren't included in the deal. Only two states, Michigan and New Hampshire, protect shifters from being killed outright. That's where the story picks up, in Bright Falls, Michigan.

    Bright Falls is the unofficial capitol of the Shifter world. The heads of the 12 shifter clans are all there, from the powerful werewolf clan to the selkies, weredeer and werebears. The main protagonist, Jane Doe (pun fully intended) is 18 years old, and works at her family's restaurant. She is a member of the weredeer clan. Her parents are John and Judy Doe, which is a funny way of introducing a weredeer weakness, puns. Jane's sister is romantically involved with one of the Werewolf clan, and unbeknownst to Jane, so is her brother, the only member of her family not to be a shifter.

    When Jane's brother is arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Jane and the girl's sister Emma, who is actually Jane's best friend, start their own investigation to find out who really murdered her. What they find will shake the foundations of the town, and the balance of power throughout the shifter world. helping them along the way are Alex, an FBI mage who is kind of spacey, and Lucien, who happens to be the local gangster, and has some secrets of his own. As they continue down the rabbit hole, they discover evils perpetrated in the town by people they trusted, all in the name of the "greater good".

    They discover the true nature of the evil infecting the town, and in a series of climactic fights, discover that the side of the angels might not be the clean side after all. Jane has to make some incredibly difficult decisions, that may include hurting the ones she loves the most to get to the truth. Oh, and she's had a vision of her in an intimate encounter with Lucien, and also finds Alex intriguing as well. Awkward!

    I have to admit I am a huge fan of CT Phipps. I have loved every one of his books, and have them all. That being said, this one was something special. I think Jane Doe may be his best character to date. She is strong, independent and stubborn enough for a dozen people. While she has special abilities because she is a shifter, she relies on her brains to get through most problems, rather than battering them into submission with stronger than human strength. That being said, she has her moments of weredeer badassery too!

    The supporting cast is also excellent. Emma is a great friend character, and her romantic feelings for the very straight Jane adds an extra dimension to their relationship. Alex's spacey kind of good guy is a lot of fun, as is Lucien's bad boy allure. Alex being a mage and Lucien being a...well, you'll see, adds some real spice as well.The villains are excellently crafted as well, bringing a real sense of grand danger as well as having realistic and somewhat sympathetic reasons for their actions, at least in the case of the biggest threat. The town of Bright Falls is colorfully and carefully described, actually feeling like a character itself. Characters have always been a strength of this writer, so that's no surprise.

    Arielle Delisle is revelation as a narrator. She did a fantastic job bringing the various characters to life. She really captures Jane's snarky, sassy yet vulnerable personality, Emma's affectionate protectiveness, Lucian and Alex's tension and Kim Su's sarcasm and wisdom. Her pacing is excellent, and she is now on my "must listen to" list.

    All in all, I feel this will appeal to a wide variety if readers, from teens to adults, male and female alike. I know this is a project of love for the author, and book 2 will be available soon on Audible. Any fans of his other books should really be able to dig in and enjoy this one. I can't recommend it highly enough.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Eighth God: The Orcslayers, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Paul S. Lavender
    • Narrated By Damien Brunetto
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    For thousands of years, five great fortresses have stood sentinel between the Borderlands and the rapacious Orcs. But the Orcs have allies and these allies are about to set a chain of events in motion that will lead to war. Heroes will rise to answer the call.

    superstardrifter says: "A quick and fast-paced listen!"
    "Fantastic Dark Fantasy Epic. "
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    This is one of those books some friends of mine recommended as a decent grimdark story. I decided to give it a shot, and I am glad I did. It is a completely different take on elves. No longer the wise, graceful elder race, these are gritty, at times petty and prejudiced. They can't stand the half elves, and give them a raw deal, and they are not too sympathetic.

    The Orcs are much different than the fairly sterile ones Tolkien created. Yes, they kill indiscriminately, but this author's are so much worse. They don't just kill. They torture, humiliate and will rape anything they can hold still. They plunder, despoil, keep sex slaves and are generally the worst sort of evil race I have ever seen put to page that is not demonic, and these actually give other writer's demons a run for the money, and these create the background tension in the story.

    The story starts 5000 years ago. An elvish battalion has been almost wiped out by a horde of orcs. The last seven elves are surrounded by the horde, protecting a pregnant human woman, about to be wiped out when a miracle occurs. The warriors are imbued by the seven elven gods with magic weapons and armor that they become bonded to for life, that allows them to defeat the orc horde. These are the Orcslayers, the scourge of the orc hordes, and the orcs would tremble in fear at the mention of them.

    Now 5000 years later, the orcs haven't been seen in numbers in millennia. The South is at peace, with 5 forts guarding the passes between the orcs in the north and the elves and humans in the south. In the orc lands, and orc chieftain with dreams of uniting the tribes and conquering the south, sends his half-orc son, Bazak, to spy on the leadership of the Southern kingdoms, and help set up the invasion. He makes it down south and seduces a captain in the guard of Ashen Falls, gaining valuable intel.

    Enter Saethryth. He is one of the two Orcslayers currently active. The roles have been passed down over the years. He follows the half-orc and confronts him as he is about to kill his duped captain, and saves her, although the orc gets away. He then decides to help her get revenge on Bazak by inducting her into the Orcslayers, realizing their numbers need to be increased, and she takes the new name Tierra.

    The other storyline follows Melress, a half elf battle mage who is actually
    Saethryth's half brother, unbeknownst to them both. Melress is sent on a mission to support the fort at Knight's Reach if the Orcs actually are invading. While he is on the way to the fort, he comes across a farm that an orc war band has despoiled, and he uses his power to save a young woman who was recently killed. He has a unique power to raise the dead, which is a priest's power, not a mages, and this plays an important part in the story later. He also unintentionally raises her parents, but they arise after he and the girl leave, and the parents quest for orc vengeance provides some hilarious moments in an otherwise grim story. Talk about gallows humor! We also discover that there might be a little more to the Elven pantheon than the seven accepted gods.

    The story lines converge at Knight's Perch, where the one of the forces of the orcs is invading. What follows is a well drawn out battle scene, with surprising combat, monsters rampaging, heroism, courage and barbarism in steady amounts, as well as some betrayal you don't see coming. Bazak and Tierra meet again, although Bazak doesn't enjoy the meeting for long. We discover Melress is married to someone rather important, and that there is a grand conspiracy moving events far bigger than the orcs, looking for vengeance long denied. The story ends with us getting a glimpse at the larger world the story will be taking us in to in future books.

    The characters and setting are real strengths of this book. Saethryth's world weary cynicism, Tierra's need for revenge and to protect her homeland, and Melress's innocent earnestness, with just a bit of a chip on his shoulder due to being half elven, all make them endearing. The side characters are also well fleshed out, making you interested in their interactions throughout the story. The villains are just loathsome. There is no other way to describe them. They are Orcs as would make Tolkien shiver just thinking about them. They are not sympathetic in the slightest, although they are interesting, as in wow, that train wreck sure has a lot of fatalities way. You just cant take your eyes off of them, even though you want to.

    All in all, this was a very good debut novel. Grimdark as all hell, great characters, an interesting backstory, and a fully fleshed out world that has a grander conspiracy awaiting discovery.

    Damien Brunetto is a new narrator to me, but I am interested in hearing more. He did a great job bringing the characters to life, giving each character lavish attention. He has a good cadence that keeps the listener engaged the whole way through. I recommend this book wholeheartedly for dark fantasy fans.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Rising Thunder: Dynasty of Storms, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Brandon Cornwell
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (46)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (41)

    Elias is no ordinary elf. A giant amongst his kind, he dwarfs not only his fellow elves but the taller, stronger humans as well. Cast out by his own kind, he was sent to live amongst the Northmen at a young age, learning their ways and culture, but never wholly accepted by them. When his oldest friend, King Brynjar, dies in his old age, Elias's position among the volatile men of the Northlands becomes tenuous, and he sets out to make his place in the world. Far to the south, a war is brewing between his homeland of Lonwick and the demonic Felle.

    Steve H. Caldwell says: "Great Fantasy Debut."
    "Great Fantasy Debut."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I have to admit, the premise of this book, the idea of a giant outcast elf, really spoke to me. Unless we are talking Drow, most elves are the Tolkien ideal: A graceful, wise elder race set on the world to guide the younger races, or at least to look down on the short lived fools. Only in more recent works like Paul Lavender's The Eighth God has a new, more callous approach to elves been taken. This writer takes it to an even greater length.

    Elias is a giant of an elf. at over seven feet tall, he towers over both elves and humans. in fact, other than giants and ogres, you won't find many creatures taller than he is. He is also strongly built, not the lithe, graceful elf that is typical of his kind. Exiled to the mountain humans in the North (this worlds analogs to Vikings) He has lived there for over 60 years, although in elf years, at 167 years of age. he is hardly more than an older teen. While he is accepted as a ward of the King, he is not trained any more as a warrior than he was with the elves. He goes on no raids and is not an advisor to the king, just a friend.

    As the current king dies, a power play takes place, and Elias is forced to leave for at least a year by the King's son a he sorts out the potential usurpers. He can come an reclaim a place in a year, assuming the new king is still on the throne.

    After leaving and deciding to head to the human lands, Elias is accosted on the road by a huge man wearing armor and wielding dark magic. He is only saved by the intervention of a mercenary troop that happened to be passing on the way to a job. Elias then joins the group, who specialize in guarding caravans and nobles. Their next job involves guarding a noble on a trip, but this goes horribly awry when he betrays them and sells them to pirates as galley slaves!

    Leading a breakout by the rest of the slaves, Elias and the slaves finish the ships journey to the islands they were headed to. Elias finds out one of his fellow slaves, a sea elf (blue skinned elf), is a local chieftain, who invites him to stay with his village, since he suspect Elias is the answer to a prophecy. That prophesy involves an outsider saving the islanders from the pirates who have been preying on the islanders for decades. Elias also meets the chiefs daughter Coral, who he is told is part of the prophesy as she is slated to bear the chosen ones son. The young elves relationship grows from there.

    What follows is a few seasons of mayhem and chaos, as Elias and the crew of mercenaries and islanders he recruits go after the pirates, both on the sea and on their island strongholds. They survive many battles and ambushes, and after a huge and tragic setback, they finally have the forces and a plan to attack the Pirates main base. The attack also brings out the mystery man who attacked Elias so many seasons ago, and they finally face off and some painful revelations are made to Elias. After the battle, Elias has some difficult decisions to make about where to go with the rest of his life, and with his men. He makes a decision that will have long lasting repercussions for much of the world.

    I really enjoyed this book, the characters, especially Elias and Coral, are really well drawn out. The plot is fast paced, but takes time to flesh out and give interesting story lines to the various characters. The various locations are well described, and you really get a good feeling about how they appear, as well as the character descriptions, such as the difference in elf sub-types, like the sea elves having blue skin and Elias's tribe having reddish. There are also a few surprise elements to the plot, and they are quite fun for a pretty grimdark story. The ideal about the injustice of prejudice, overcoming odds, and finding happiness are all at play throughout the story, and are excellently portrayed.

    One warning. This book does have some graphic sex scenes between Elias and Coral. They are integral to the story, not just tacked on, or so it seemed to me, but this may be a turn off for a few readers, so be forewarned. I didn't see anything objectionable about them, since it is consensual sex between two elves, both over 150 years old.

    Ralph Lister is in top form on this one, bringing his substantial chops to bear on a complicated story with many different characters, with multiple accents. He handles them all well, and his narrative pacing is great. He really kept the story moving along, and gets the listener really into each of the characters.

    This is one of those stories that will appeal to a broad variety of fantasy readers, whether they like epic fantasy, swords and sorcery or grimdark. I can't recommend it highly enough, because it is a fantastic novel for a debut writer, and things will only be getting better from here!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Satan!: Hell High, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Michael-Scott Earle
    • Narrated By David Dietz
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (75)
    Performance
    (72)
    Story
    (72)

    Whoever thought having a succubus for a girlfriend would turn your life upside down? Now Sherman is on his way to meet Satan. Fortunately, he's not quite the bad guy everyone has made him out to be. Less fortunately, The Lord of Evil has a job for Sherman, and let's just say that if our impromptu hero fails, well, he'll have 99 problems but a succubus won't be one.

    Steve H. Caldwell says: "A funnny, heartwarming story in hell..."
    "A funnny, heartwarming story in hell..."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    When last we saw Sherman and Charlotte, at the end of Hell High:Succubus!, they had just escaped A mob out to kill them by taking a portal to Hell. Yes, Hell. Of course, Charlotte being a succubus, this isn't as much of a problem as you'd think. Charlotte leaves Sherman locked in a room as she goes off to set up bringing him to Satan. While he's waiting, he talks to a girl name Joro through the door. Charlotte chases her away when she returns, and they try and find a way to get to Satan's palace without getting killed by all the other demons in hell. Deciding to travel underground, They have a harrowing trip, having to deal with minor bureaucrats, as well as a very angry Joro, who turns out to be much more than expected. The scenes with her are frightening and hilarious, all at the same time.

    When they reach Satan's palace, Sherman is kidnapped by a group of Rhakshasi, Indian tiger demons, who turn out to be surprisingly polite hosts, even if they do want to eat Sherman for his power. After he escapes with Charlotte's help, they go and meet Satan. Yes, Satan. The meeting with Satan is absolutely hilarious, with Satan being portrayed much differently than expected. Satan explains that Sherman's abilities make him in demand, and offers him a job. The first job is hilarious, involving a Doppelganger and a duel to the death by video game. Sherman and Charlotte's relationship is explored further, although Charlotte still insists it is professional only. On their return to Satan, Sherman is offered another job to help in Satan's war against his enemies, and he makes a decision that will effect the rest of his life, and has ramifications for the rest of the world as well.

    This series is a particular treat due to the characters, which are a real strength of this author. Sherman comes across initially as week and helpless, but he is smart and resourceful, and surprisingly stubborn. He is clueless when it comes to Charlotte, but considering he has basically been ignored his whole life, its surprising he socializes as well as he does. Charlotte, on the other hand, has no problem socializing, being a succubus. however, she is an assassin, so that makes her socialization a little uncomfortable for some of the other characters. Satan is played much differently than i expected, although he can be harsh and evil when need. The other characters are well drawn out as well, and really get the reader into the action.

    The setting is well set up, and is not at all what one would expect from hell. It seems much more like the hell in Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim books than the hell from the bible, and is played for laughs in quite a few ways, from Satan's garage to the Rhakshasi's manor. You really get a sense of being there in the scene.

    The narration by David Dietz is a real strength. He really nails the various voices. His Satan voice is especially good, and not at all what one expects from Satan. He has good pacing on the narration, and keeps the story flowing smoothly. I think he is perfect for this particular type of story.

    All in all, this is a very enjoyable, slightly dark comedy that should appeal to a large group. If you like urban fantasy, gamer culture, or dark comedy, this book has something in it that you can enjoy. I highly recommend it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Eye of the Tiger: Star Justice, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By Michael-Scott Earle
    • Narrated By Eric Bryan Moore
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (441)
    Performance
    (413)
    Story
    (410)

    When his latest mission has an unexpected outcome, Adam finds himself free of his explosive control collar and honor bound to protect a mysterious woman. Now he is on an alien planet, and they are both being hunted by the most powerful mega corporation in the solar system. Their only escape lays at the helm of an experimental starship hidden beyond countless layers of military security.

    Ryan T Edwards says: "Confirmed"
    "Good hybrid of sci fi and paranormal!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Having read several other book by this author, I saw the description of this one and thought is sounded very intriguing. The idea of a crossover of paranormal and sci-fi has always fascinated me, and this author's really strong character creations seemed like a perfect fit for this kind of genre hybrid. I'm happy to say I was right, it is a great fit.

    In a far future where mankind has spread across the universe, Adam is a former prisoner who has been transformed through secret therapy to be able to transform into a tiger man for a certain amount of time, with enhanced, strength, speed, senses and durability. This therapy has been accompanied by heavy duty space marine training, as well as an explosive collar around his neck to keep him under control. He is part of a team of, for lack of a better term, Weretigers, and he has survived longer than any of the others.

    On a mission to retrieve a mysterious article from a corporation on a distant world, The mission goes from smooth to pear shaped quickly. As they get closer to the package, Adam starts hearing a voice in his head as he moves ahead of the rest of the team, telling him to come to where the objective is. As he kills his way to the target, he discovers a shock: the package is a woman named Eve being kept in some kind of stasis. Breaking her out of the machine she is kept in, she removes his control collar without it exploding, and tells him they need to escape. Since he is now free, and being no fan of his employer, he agrees is they can figure out how to get out. He also discovers that Eve is both a psychic and a vampire, and she has been kept weakened by lack of blood.

    This starts a wild escape, where they must get passed his teammates to start being able escape a ridiculously secured building, getting past drones, robotic canons, a large security force, as well as a corporate apparatus that will be on their tail if they do escape. They will later meet a smart mouth female hacker named Z who will provide them with documents to help escape, and when that goes pear shaped, she must go on the run with Adam and Eve to try and escape the planet and the hugely powerful conglomerate chasing them. Eve 's psychic ability leads them to an experimental ship they can escape on, although clearing their way past the huge security force and weapons emplacements is a wild fight, and is framed in a great, intensive series of scenes. It is intimated that their escaping the planet would force a dramatic shift in galactic politics, since corporations control so much of the power, although just how much should be interesting to discover as Adam, Eve and Z learn to coordinate their abilities to the fullest.

    As with his other books, characters are a great strength in this book. Adam and Eve are both powerful in their own rights, but show surprising vulnerability. Z is a fun foil for them, being the one that's not built for combat, so to speak, and is the one looking for a place to hide while Adam and Eve sort out the rough stuff. She is brilliant in her element though, and surprises you with her ingenuity and secret courage. The villains are a bit generic, since there is no one figure to really get to hate, other than a short scene with the control head for Adams marine team, just corporate minions and security. I do expect that to change in later books, although a monolithic corporate villain may be the direction it takes, which would also work.

    The setting has a very far future sci-fi feel to it. Vast interstellar distances, Cities that seem like a cross between Blade Runner and Minority Report, just straight sci fi cities overrun with corporate influence. The ships seem cool, and the other trappings, such as the robotic weapons platforms, the drones, the auto driving cars, the bio-engineered soldiers, they all fit with sense of a far flung galactic civilization. The crossover with the psychic/paranormal and the sci-fi is handled seamlessly, and is very enjoyable. All told, it really helps draw you in to the story.

    The narration by Eric Bryan Moore is spot on. He gives each character their own unique voice, and helps make you really get into each of them. His narrative pacing is solid, never lagging or falling into a monotone. He definitely brings solid work to the narration.

    Overall, this book should appeal to a wide range of readers/listeners. It has elements of military sci-fi, urban fantasy, vampire and were fantasy and even techno thrillers. It has strong female characters that are strong in their own right, not just because the males are weak. I can highly recommend this book.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Succubus!: Hell High

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 33 mins)
    • By Michael-Scott Earle
    • Narrated By David Dietz
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (154)
    Performance
    (149)
    Story
    (149)

    Sherman had always thought high school was a real drag. He was looking forward to finishing his senior year so that he could coast through college, get a day job, and spend the rest of his life playing video games. He is used to seeing angels, but when a new girl transfers into his AP physics class, he thinks demons might be more his style.

    B. Mulder says: "wild"
    "Fun dark humor novella."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I read the premise of Hell High and thought it sounded like dark comedy with lots of potential. After reading them, I have to say I was right! A lot of fun dark humor ensues.

    Sherman is finally a senior in high school. That doesn't matter much, because a nerdy, anime and comics addicted kid like him, who is literally ignored and overlooked by everyone, even his parents, has no chance to get Charlotte, the girl of his dreams. Sounds like any 80's teen comedy, right? Did I mention that the girl of his dreams has wings and tail? Or that 9 out of 10 students in school is some kind of supernatural creature, whether it be Devil, Vampire, Werewolf, Naga or just about any other creature you can imagine? Sherman has seen them his whole life, so sees nothing unusual in the variety of "people" After following Charlotte as she left the cafeteria in an unusual rush, Sherman follows her into the Boiler room, where she confronts him. He lets slip he can see her true form, which is supposed top be impossible. He lets slip he can see ALL their true forms. This is a problem, since there are many factions actively fighting one another, and they are not allowed to show their true forms on Earth. This is especially a problem since Charlotte has been sent to assassinate a devil, and has been unable to find him so far.

    After Charlotte confronts and kills the devil, all hell breaks loose, somewhat literally, as some of his fellow supernaturals of his faction discover his body and give chase. Since there are multiples of them, this doesn't look good for Sherman and Charlotte as they try to escape. After pulling the fire alarm of the school in hopes of escaping from the crowd, they are almost captured. Sherman somehow finds another ability, that of breaking glamours. As every supernatural lays exposed in true form, fights to the death suddenly burst out all throughout the school! The scene is played for laughs and horror at the same time.

    Thus starts a wild chase as Charlotte and Sherman have to escape what has become an all out supernatural war. Dodging flying body parts, fireballs and talons, Charlotte and Sherman have to also avoid the faculty, who happen to be huge armed devils. After a harrowing run, Charlotte and Sherman manage to find a place to try and make their escape, and barely escape with their lives. Of course, the escape is to Hell, not exactly a place Sherman wants to visit.

    I was really pleased with the characters in this book. Sherman comes across as a real person, and his musing to himself about Charlotte, comics, manga and other pop culture make for some hilarious scenes. Sherman bases his actions a lot of the time on stuff he's seen in comics and manga. Just funny stuff. Charlotte is also a fun character. Going back and forth from teen girl and big bad succubus assassin, its hilarious watching her try to deal with Sherman's mooning over her, especially since she, like everyone else, can't remember his right name. Since it's a shorter story, the rest of the characters aren't as fleshed out, they are still filled out enough to make good contributions to the story. The high school setting felt real, like every high school I've ever been in.

    David Dietz handles the narration. He does a great job switching between characters, and gives each character a life of their own. His narrative pacing is good, and really sucks you in to the story.

    All in all, this is a fun novella that is a good start to a series I hope goes into quite a few more volumes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.