The powerful city-state of Saraykeht is a bastion of peace and culture, a major center of commerce and trade. Its economy depends on the power of the captive spirit Seedless, an andat bound to the poet-sorcerer Heshai for life. Enter the Galts, an empire committed to laying waste to all lands with their ferocious army. Saraykeht has always been too strong for the Galts to attack, but now they see an opportunity.
If they can dispose of Heshai, Seedless will perish and the entire city will fall. In the middle is Otah, a simple laborer with a complex past. Recruited to act as a bodyguard for his girlfriend's boss at a secret meeting, he inadvertently learns of the Galtish plot. Otah finds himself as the sole hope of Saraykeht: either he stops the Galts or the whole city and everyone in it perishes forever.
©2006 Daniel Abraham (P)2014 Tantor
"A Shadow in Summer is a thoroughly engrossing debut novel from a major new fantasist. A poignant human tale of power, heartbreak, and betrayal." (George R.R. Martin)
I was super excited when I was browsing Audible and noticed this series was finally in audio format. Having already listened to Abraham's newer series, Dagger and Coin, I had high expectations for this older acclaimed series. I wasn't disappointed. Abraham's style is fairly unique, he writes fantasy but without the usual heroes and villains. If you are looking for melee or magical combat this book doesn't have it, it does have some great characters, plot, and suspense.
Best of all you won't have to wait long for the other books in the series, all are scheduled to be released before the end of 2014.
Did you know you can put in a set of Ear-Buds, slap your Hearing Protectors over them, and Mow the lawn, Weed-Eat, etc, without your book being drowned out by engine noise? OR, you can just let the horses in the yard, and THEY'LL mow and weedeat (literally) FOR YOU!
If you're wondering why this book gets high ratings in "Book Format", but not many "Reviews", in Book OR Audible Format, I think I can TRY to answer THAT question at least...
We all buy books in Genres we each like.. Some people like Hard Military Sci-Fi (ME! ME! ME! ;). Some People Love Hard Sci-Fi (ME! ME! ME! AGAIN! ;). Some people buy romance books, (Uhhh NOT "Me" on this one, but to each their own)...
I HATED "Fantasy" until Sanderson got me hooked on it... Now I've just quit saying I hate "Fantasy" because it seems every 4th book I listen to nowadays is Fantasy (I like to tell myself "that *I* haven't changed, It's just that better writers started writing fantasy"... MAYBE that's even true! ;)
But... This book (The SERIES in fact) is MOSTLY based on "Characters"... almost like the author thought "How ALIVE can I make each character? Can I make them feel so real that people CARE about them as they would a real person?"
THAT was DARING! Because when you buy a Fantasy Book with Magic (etc), You EXPECT "Magic, Etc"... but there's not much "Magic" in the series (and I'm on the last book in the series now), but I STILL got caught up in "The Characters" somehow!
...Which makes me feel... "Weird"... OK, let me just say it, "I feel like a Sensitive Girl who got caught up in a novel because she 'Cared' about the people involved".. There! I said it! To put in perspective how HARD that was for me to write, MY life can summed up as "I have NEVER expected to die in bed from old age!" I have A LOT of HARD Miles on my body! I have holes in my body in places that SANE people DO NOT want holes.. I even have the proverbial "Another Hole In My Head" (IE: "I need THAT like I need another hole in my head"). I've raised FIVE Gifted Children (4 Girls and a Boy), Put them ALL through College (Except our Youngest, 12, and she MAY start college at 16, like her Siblings).. I've raised them to adulthood, seen them Married to "Perfect" Sons-And Daughters-In-Laws, and now I'm teaching my Grandsons about "Life on the Ranch, and things Young Men NEED to learn to become "Well-Rounded Young Gentlemen". I've retired from the Military. I've Retired From Electrical Engineering and Programming (I still DO THEM, but I do them "For myself" or "For Charities and Schools that NEED some help", from my Home Offices and Workshops), and I just recently sold my Businesses to allow myself more time with my Wife, Children, Grandchildren, and our Ranch... I've spent literally YEARS of total time in Hospitals being "Put back together" after one horrible event or another (I know, "You get the picture, I'm not exactly 'Mr. Sensitive'" ;)...
... but I'm listening to a fantasy series, that seems to be mostly about "Caring about the Characters, throughout the action during their lives". Two Months ago, I would have looked you in the eyes and SWORN that couldn't happen... but Abraham has somehow pulled it off.
The "Striking (COMPLICATED) Poses" felt weird in the first book (Characters "Strike Poses" ("Learned Body Language") to add MUCH more subtle meaning to situations, than "Words" alone could convey).. but I even got used to THAT kinda quickly and stopped noticing it by midway through book one, and I even UNDERSTAND it (It's been done by various cultures throughout history, where "Body Language" is A PART OF the over all Conversation. IE: Speaking while "Holding A Pose" conveying the meaning of "a young, submissive, lower-class merchant, speaking to the wife of a highly-ranked Nobleman"... Sound Complicated? Yeah.. But it's actually been done, to that level of detail, in some older cultures)
This series is HARD to "Review", because there's really nothing else like it to compare it to! PARTS of it are 'LIKE' a lot of other books, but the 'style' is something totally Unique 'Over All'.
... Just go ahead and hit the "0 of 5000 People Found This Review Helpful" icon, because *I'm* not doing a good job of "Describing The Series" either... but I thought I'd give it a try. Seriously, It's OK, Hit the icon... I'm USED to FAILING far more than Succeeding. But no one has EVER said "I didn't TRY" ;). I am "ENJOYING The Series a lot", and that's all that really matters to me.
I think Neil Shah does a great job except that there is no indication when the PoV changes. Within each chapter you might have several different perspectives taking over but unfortunately where the books likely have (I'm assuming here) a visual indicator such as a triple line space or double line with ellipsis - this audiobook simply continues reading with barely a slightly longer pause than a normal paragraph break.
This can actually probably be blamed on the studio rather than Neil Shah - I don't know how much input he'd have on editing.
I'm not in love with this book, but it was an interesting idea. This is a world where to be a poet has immense importance and power--and yet the limitations and the struggle of the craft plague the artist.
The characters are well-written and interesting. The plot meanders a bit. I haven't gone on to the second book yet, but I will probably do so.
The book was well written, in a poetic style with description that I felt properly captured what was going on without being too wordy. The author also does a good job initially developing each character so you are vested in what they do.
I wasn't thrilled with the storyline, I love the sci fi fantasy genre, but as someone described in another review this felt more like a soap opera/romance novel than fantasy book. I also took exception to many of the decisions the characters make. I found mysell asking often "Wait, why do they think this is a good idea? " to almost all of the plot shaping decisions in the book.
In the end I would say this book was a unique spin on the fantasy genre, but the overall storyline ended up feeling like MTV'S attempt at writing.
The story, yes. The narrator? Maybe not.
I think the difficulties in narration might have more to do with direction than voice talent, though I haven't listened to other works by Neil, so I can't say. My husband 'never noticed' any issues and 'didn't mind' the things I found frustrating to the point of wanting to just go buy the paper books. The issues I had were:Volume modulation: (too much) Even in time of great passion/distress/terror in an audiobook, the actual volume level, for the comfort of the listener, should stay within a small spectrum. Whispers that are difficult to hear are frustrating, and yells that are *actually* yelled are literally painful. Most people I know use earbuds or headphones to listen to books, and what's comfortable at a talk is very jarring, if not painful, at a yell. Neil needs to cultivate his stage whisper and fake yell.Tonal modulation: (not enough) Neil sounds bored. Or maybe... like a he's trying to read a history? Or a dictionary? I'm not sure what the directed or intended tone was, but the lack of modulation sounds bored to me. I'm not sure how to describe it in text, but imagine the tonal variations of someone speaking with an Irish accent. That's one extreme. Very melodic, as much inflected as said. Now imagine a type-to-talk program, a digital voice reading text. Neil is much closer, in this book, to the latter than the former. Maybe some readers like it (like my husband, who didn't notice) because it's 'not distracting,' but I can't say I agree. I kept thinking how interesting the content was, but weighing that against how bored I felt. I was more interested in the book when I wasn't actually listening.Overall I'd say the story has been very good. (Especially considering the acclaim of my husband, who has made it through the series and LOVED it. I have not... yet.) but the narration/direction makes me suggest this book be read, not listened to.
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