Set in the far, far future, Steel Traveler Of Urth is a wild combination of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (the sunburned landscape, the characters who take it for granted that everybody's out to cheat and/or kill everyone else as they vie for treasure)and The Road Warrior (the hard-to-kill hero has suffered so many losses, he's trying to be as big a bastard as everyone else, but he keeps being tripped up by his own innate decency). The heroine may or may not have a heart of gold, but she definitely has a long, fluffy tail; the hero's best friend and worst enemies are all giant, sentient insects. (If you suffer from arachnophobia, this book may work as therapy for you.) The action ricochets from one vivid landscape (sun-blasted desert, frozen mountains, arcane laboratory, eons-dead city) to another, just as the characters' relationships ricochet from business to pleasure, from love to hate. The author has a wild, cinematic imagination.
©2001 Saul Al Roberts (P)2014 Saul Al Roberts
Had I read the eBook I probably would have given the story three stars. Enjoyable, but not one of those books that you'll read again and again. It's a fun post-apocalytic romp, filled with familiar tropes. You won't find any huge surprises in the story, but what you will find are good execution and memorable characters.
I had a hard time with the bewildering array of races and the strange time keeping system at first, but by the end came to understand them and found they added to the story.
So why did I rate this five stars if I'm describing a 3 star story? Because the audiobook is beyond amazing. It contains a full cast, special effects and even a professional singer delivering an absolutely haunting melody in chapter 18. I burned through this audiobook, and am still just blown away by the quality. It's very much like the radio dramas of yore, something we rarely see anymore.
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Having listened to hundreds of audiobooks I can say without a doubt that The Steel Traveler of Urth was one of the worst productions of an audiobook I’ve ever heard; the story itself didn’t seem bad though at times had a choppy flow and didn’t really come to any strong resolution or conclusion but then again, maybe it did and it was missed by the poor quality of narration. The audio is 8 hours, 20 minutes in length and narrated by multiple persons with, I believe, the author as the main narrator. I would give the story (2)**, and the production, performance and attention-holding (1)*, I do feel however that a visual reader may be inclined to give the story and attention holding a (3)*** though this is purely speculation.
The metallic echo (which the best way I can describe it is something akin to the robot in the old “Lost in Space” series) used for so many of the characters and totally by the main narrator along with his constant foreboding tone and use of drawn out words throughout each sentence was irritating to say the least. At most, the character voices….forgive me if I misspell the names but I only had audio….Reggie (on occasion), the trader of horses or mounts, basically all of the bugs, the steel guardian, and The Taint were pretty much undecipherable.
It was obvious that many of the actors had not rehearsed the lines well or at all. Lena was probably the best voice being clear and a mix of delicate beauty and strength, her master Blackavie was quite well spoken also with a great european sexy yet sinister quality, and I imagine the Steel Guardian would have been good if he could have been understood. Even Jason had a strong, clear voice but the actor faltered too much to make his character the worthy protagonist he should be; young Jason was much too weak and babyish. There were many mispronunciations of names and flubbed lines especially by the main narrator which can (and did in this case) ruin the story since the reader is left wondering who for instance, Lena is vs. Leana and/or what was just said since the metallic voices are poorly done to begin with. As far as the thank you narration at the end of the story goes, dump it. With all the uhs, and ums and general confusion of the author it leaves a bitter taste and should have been scripted. While it’s sad that your equipment was stolen, you just told your readers that you went ahead with the work using crappy replacements and you’re okay with giving them a crappy audiobook, but we can see that the entire program was faulty from the beginning…..hmmm, you sunk your own ship there.
The best scene in the story was (and again I apologize for any misspelling): Guinean’s Garden and the song of the siren/guardian…her voice was lovely, also the story seemed to flow a bit better. The descriptions were good and gave a pretty good visual of what the garden may be like.
There were other scenes I started to enjoy namely the memory scenes of all the characters, but then the narrator would be too overwhelming or the voices were lost in the metallica. I think the fight in the snow with the bugs and The Taint, and the scene at the Steel Guardian’s city would have been very good if the reader could have understood what was being said (yes, I do have excellent hearing).
Overall, I suggest people read this story with their eyes as you will likely enjoy it then. Also, in my humble opinion, since the author blathered on about hoping to make money in his thank you narration then this audiobook should not be released to the public until all the flaws are worked out.
Audiobook provided for review by the author.
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The myriad of voices played by a full cast was just amazing.
Well, I have to say Leena has a sultry voice... but I loved all the wild and fantastic characters. I think the Caloptrian scarab-men were my favorite species, though. A close second would be Blackavie.
I enjoyed the wasteland trek immensely but the final confrontation was the most exciting part.
The garden song was haunting and chilling, and the scene very well done.
First, I have to say:
This. Audio. Book. Rocks...
...But it is rough. You can tell the author produced it himself (his afterword says as much).
However that being said, it makes up for the shortcomings by having a truly amazing cast and a fascinating world. The voices are GREAT (even has a truly haunting song), the narrator/author keeps a good pace, and the story stands up well. The battle scenes are great fun as well. I can see the comparison to westerns and mad max, it definitely has those elements. The mix of magic, technology, and bug-people come together to make one of the most creative worlds I've seen in quite a while! The world feels reminiscent of the old RPG "Rifts."
While the insectoid races, timekeeping system, and different types of magic and technology are alot to take in at first, the author leaves plenty of time for it to sink in, and has some clever ways of revealing these details.The only criticism I have is that some of the voices were hard to understand, especially Ajitron the Guardian.I only listen to audiobooks in the car, and this book left me actually looking forward to my commute, so I give it 5 stars overall.
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