Captain Tamas is an ambitious young officer in the Adran army. As a commoner, he is one of very few without noble blood to hold a rank. When he challenges the son of a duke over an insult, the subsequent duel lands him in hot water with the nobility and the royal cabal of Privileged sorcerers. Tamas is soon drawn into a conflict that goes to the very highest office in the land, and his only ally is the most unlikely of people; a young noblewoman named Erika, who needs Tamas to teach her how to wield her powers as a powder mage.
©2014 Brian McClellan (P)2014 Brian McClellan
Yes. If you've read any of the powder mage stories, you'll really enjoy this early story of Tamas. I really enjoyed listening to young Tamas. You see some of the experiences that shape the Field Marshal he is going to become. It's interesting to watch how he handles the discrimination he faces from the nobility for his low birth and odd powers, but also how he is forced to confront some of his own preconceptions of others.
I love his encounters with Erika, a young woman who knows what she wants! Tamas is not really equipped to handle her, and its a fun dynamic to follow!
It was like he was out of breath as he was reading, and he had no concept of the punctuation in the story. He'd just read right through periods, without stopping, which really messed up some of the structure of the story. Then all of a sudden, he'd do this great job at voices and dialogue, and I would glimpse a great narrator. Then he'd just go back to this bored, breathy run-on sentence narration. It was really disappointing to what could have been a great story
I was fortunate enough to win this audio-book on a mini-contest on Mr. McClellan's twitter feed. I had read the first two novels in the series and absolutely enjoyed them, though I had not read any of the short-stories or novellas he had released, nor had I listened to any of his work on audio-book.
Servent of the Crown, is a novella that details Tamas' first meeting with his future wife and love Erika. There is a lot of back story here that is only hinted at in the novels, and it was fun getting to see Tamas as a young man. The similiarites between his younger self and his son are fairly obvious and it was nice to see, despite the butting heads between Tamas and his son in the two novels.
The only problem I had with this audio-book was the narration. I just felt like the narrator's voice did not match what I expected from a young Tamas. The narration was difficult to hear at times, and while the narrator has a ponderous voice, that I would expect to issue forth from a stereotypical older English gentleman of the Victorian Era, it was often spoken as if the narrator was himself moments from drifting off to sleep.
Still, that narration did little to detract from the storytelling that kept me listening. If you enjoyed either of the two main novels, or the other novellas, I highly recommend this one as a listen, though if I had the choice, I would have preferred to have read it myself.
This is placed well before the previous books or even the acceptance of powder mages as a military force. It is extremely well written, however, the narrator doesn't match the tale well and one has to strain to hear things due to his reading style.
My only real issue with this novella is the narrator has such and airy and low pitched voice that he adds no intensity or emotion to the performance. If recasting it were an option I would highly recommend that be done. Otherwise it's a good quick read.
"The best of the Powder Mage Novellas"
Story – 5/5
This was my favourite of all of the novellas/short stories in the powder mage world. It was detailed and substantial enough to get a full story out of it, and was a really nice bit of background of how Tamas met his wife Erika. The action was expertly written, as usual from McClellan, and the political intrigue and romance intertwined left me wanting a whole lot more.
If you are a big fan of the main trilogy, and you want more while waiting for the next novel, I found it well worth buying this in a 40% off sale.
Performance – 3.5/5
It took a bit to get used to Daniel Dorse, and once I had, I was able to enjoy the story a lot more. His voice acting in very good, but he just sounded a bit dreary when describing the scenes. It may have just been me.
Overall – 4.5/5
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