For 10 years, the noblewoman Seriana lived in exile, believing her husband Karon was dead, executed for practicing sorcery. But now she learns his soul has been anchored to this world by magic. He has been restored to life-though his memories of Seri are gone. When Seri's nephew is kidnapped - and a dark family secret comes to light - the two strangers will have to join together to defeat the evil Lords of Zhev'Na, who want to destroy both this world and the parallel magic realm that lies beyond.
©2004 Carol Berg (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
In terms of writing style alone, Carol Berg is probably the best fantasy author out there. Her stories are very good too. The only problem I have with all her novels is that the magic appears to be based on the New Testament, meaning there's always a death/reborn theme and lots of internal conflict about needing to sacrifice oneself to save the world. As a consequence, the plots can get draggy and humorless in parts, and it's hard to get to know some of the main characters (the weight of the world on their shoulders is so large that they become caricatures instead of real people). But, as I'm about to start Book 4 in this series, this issue clearly doesn't bother me enough to stop reading/listening.
What does bother me is the narration in this series. Book 1 only had one reader, and she was pretty good. But, then they started with multiple readers as the point of view changed from character to character. That can work, but it doesn't here because the narrators obviously didn't talk or listen to each other before reading. Hence, each reader uses his/her own pronunciations and accents, which can be quite different from the others. For example, one narrator says "jeed", another says "ji-heed", and another says "zeed" to refer to same group of people. Prince D'Natheil is pronounced De-Nathael or Danthial depending on reader. And the stable boy, Paulo, sounds like a southern US country gentleman in some of the chapters. It's really grating and inexcusable.
Picks up "immediately" after conclusion of 1st book. The setting is more confined and manages to stay very engaging even though it's very different than book 1 in scope. Good start, BUT chapters then switch point of view from main heroine to others and a different reader then reads that chapter. On the surface that might seem OK until that character describes the same events from a different viewpoint and the others characters remain voiced (sometimes with different pronunciations) by the reader for that person in that chapter. The different readers never voice their characters together. Because the viewpoint is switching between the different characters for some of the same events, it doesn't really move the plot along very far.
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