Thousands of years before the Age of Elminster, dragons rule the skies of Faern, and elves dominate the huge forests that cover the land. Only in the mighty, magical empire of Netheril are men a force to be reckoned with. Bored and haughty in his midair castle, the Netherese mage Candlemas bets fellow wizard Sysquemalyn that a certain barbarian who has caught his eye can survive the most savage tests his friend - and deadly rival - can devise. The only rule: The tests must offer the subject some chance to survive, however slight.
Of course, "playing fair" is a concept as alien to the wizards of Netheril as "mercy". But the subject of their wager, Sunbright Steelshanks of the Rengarth Tribe, has a mind - and a will - of his own. And Candlemas and Sysquemalyn are not the only players in this lethal game of swords and sorcery....
©1996 TSR, Inc. (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
The narrator was not great. I imagine his voice/tone would be appropriate for other books but it just wasn't good. He made the wizards sound like whiny brats (cringe worthy at times). I think I could have done it if the story was better. It's akin to something like "Escape from Undermountain." Shallow characters fight something for a chapter...escape and fall into another mess for another chapter... win... enter another chapter with another theme. I've read older FR novels and they are not all this lame (Finder's Stone comes to mind as being great). I can handle fast paced action in FR but when it gets muddy like this novel you don't want to continue.
Further, some of the dialogue just takes the listener/reader right out of the FR world. Characters use the words like "sh*t and b*tch. Really, this is the type of thing that is not needed and makes you really wonder what the author was thinking. I'm not against swearing but I don't anticipate Elminster dropping an F-bomb or calling Blackstaff a B*tch... see how ridiculous that would sound.
I'm not sure if it felt disjointed and all over the place because of being narrated vs reading... but I thought this was an awful story. The premise was understandable but everything since chapter one was a mess. I probably should have known with a main character named Sunbright Steelshanks and companion named Greenwillow (I mean, really). I'm a huge fan of FR and have read/listened to about 50 books and this is one of the worst. It comes with high reviews but each chapter is just a jumble of nonsense that really has no depth. Honestly, it reads like a high school student wrote it.
Again, not horrible but not good either. The main wizards sounded awful and really all dialogue was not done well. The other parts were serviceable.
I was disappointed with this novel. It came with rave reviews from many sources and it played out like hot trash. Older FR books can be hit or miss and this is maybe a Kindle option on the cheap rather than dropping a full credit.
Thankfully, the book does follow its main characters throughout. You won't find chapters bouncing back and forth between a few story lines. Sadly, the only story line is not too hot.
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