Centuries after the death of Uthar the Great, the throne of the Ontilian Empire lies vacant. The late Emperor's brother-in-law and murderer, Lord Urdhven, appoints himself Protector to his nephew, young King Lathmar VII and sets out to kill anyone who stands between himself and mastery of the Empire, including (if he can manage it) the King himself and his ancient but still formidable ancestress, Ambrosia Viviana.
When Ambrosia is accused of witchcraft and put to trial by combat, she is forced to play her trump card and call on her brother, Morlock Ambrosius--stateless person, master of all magical makers, deadly swordsman, and hopeless drunk.
As ministers of the king, they carry on the battle, magical and mundane, against the Protector and his shadowy patron. But all their struggles will be wasted unless the young king finds the strength to rule in his own right and his own name.
©2009 by James Enge; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
2009 Recommended Reading (Locus magazine)
I was very impressed with narrator Jay Snyder, who does wonderful voices. He absolutely nails Morlock Ambrosius and his Dwarven apprentice Wyrtheorn, and does a wonderful job of allowing the young king Lathmar to actually age and mature across the 14 hours plus of the audiobook (that was really impressive). All the villains and supporting characters are great. He does slip up with Ambrosia. I think he keyed off the fact that Lathmar calls her "Grandmother" and so she starts out sounding a little too frail. But by the time she's wearing a full suit of armor and lopping off heads, he seems to have figured this out, and her voice has altered as much as it can without being inconsistently with where it began. (I picture someone between Cher and Rene Russo, personally. Morlock, of course, is Hugh Laurie if he's anyone.) But overall I was more than impressed with Jay Snyder's reading, and suspect this is an audiobook I'm going to come back to every few years, and one I could easily see listening to with my children when they are older. Meanwhile, the spoken introduction by Enge is great, and I would encourage audible to make it available as an independent sample if they can. If I can be forgiven my bias, as someone who worked on the print book, and sticking strictly to the audiobook production, five out of five stars.
To me this book had all the makings of great fantasy. Interesting characters, plot, and action but I just kept getting lost. I'am used to reading quite a bit of fantasy - Tolkien, Jordan, Sanderson, even Christopher Paulinni, and loved all their books but with this book I just kept getting lost. I knew what the characters were doing but not where or why. Even time would seem to pass in strange intervals. To give an example without spoiling the story. If you read the summary it talks about the Kings Protector. In one seen he is sitting next to the king at the parade grounds as a trial ends and then he walks back to the palace and has a long discussion which seems to indicate that hours had passed, then he sends his soldiers back to kill the king who is still at the parade ground in the middle of the night. I assume its night since the soldiers carried torches and it was dark, but I can't figure out why the king was there at the parade grounds. Did he just sit there for the whole afternoon? I just can't make sense of it.
I don't mean to offend anyone who enjoyed this book because it seems that many people do, but imho I just did not enjoy this book because half the time it felt like I was watching a indie foreign movie without subtitles. Thats how dazed and confused I felt.
I don't typically write reviews, but I was particularly annoyed by this book.
First the author drops the f word in the story a few times, and it doesn't fit in the scene. Imagine your great great grandmother swearing like a sailor. If you're going to swear in story, at least make sure it fits in.
Second, the story is broken into 2 major parts. I would almost call them 2 different books. It's like the author changed his mind half way through the book and wanted to do something else.
Third, the reader sounds too cartoony it's like watching sponge bob on Saturday morning. The king is 12 years old, and the reader makes him sound like a 12 year old girl. Another main character was his "grandmother" which I think he exaggerated her voice to much, thus sounding like a cartoon.
Things I did like... the hero was pretty cool; the concept of the second antagonist was kinda cool. I say second, because like I mentioned the story is broken into 2 different books practically.
This is just my humble opinion, so take it for whatever its worth to you.
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