The Imperial Merchant Ship Chathrand is the last of her kind. Six hundred years old, the secrets of her construction long forgotten, the massive vessel dwarfs every other sailing craft in the world. It is a palace with sails, a floating outpost of the Empire of Arqual. And it is on its most vital mission yet: to deliver a young woman whose marriage will seal the peace between Arqual and its mortal enemy, the secretive Mzithrin Empire.
But the young woman in question - Thasha, the daughter of the Arquali ambassador - has no intention of going meekly to the altar. For the ship's true mission is not peace but war - a war that threatens to unleash an ancient, all-consuming evil.
As the dark conspiracy at the heart of the voyage unfurls, Pazel Pathkendle, a lowly tarboy with an uncanny gift, will find himself in an unlikely alliance with Thasha and her protectors: Hercól, a valet who is more than he appears; Dri, the queen of a race of tiny stowaways who have their own plans for the great ship; and Ramachni, a powerful sorcerer from another world. Arrayed against them are the Chathrand's brutal captain, Nilus Rose; the Emperor's spymaster and chief assassin, Sandor Ott; and the enigmatic Dr. Chadfallow, a longtime friend to Pazel's family whose kind words may hide a vicious betrayal.
As the Chathrand navigates treacherous waters to complete its mission, Pazel, Thasha, and their allies - including a singularly heroic rat - must also navigate a treacherous web of in...
©2009 Robert V.S. Redick; (P)2009 Tantor
"Redick's debut presents a unique setting for an epic fantasy and includes memorable characters. With comparisons to George R. R. Martin and Philip Pullman, this is highly recommended." (Library Journal)
The narrator made this book for me. The story is very good--I've read the two books in the series so far--but Michael Page brought it alive in a way few narrators can.
The description of this book compares the writer with George Martin, but that is extremely misleading. George Martin is a good writer, true, but his stories have no clear-cut heroes, no good guys or bad guys, which makes it difficult to root for any of them. This disconnection between the reader and the characters makes one enjoy the story, admire the art of prose, and marvel at the characterization, but lacks a certain something that makes his books truly great.
But this isn't a review of George Martin.
Robert Redick's books are about people who recognize the corruption within their respective empires and amongst their respective peoples, and rather than submitting for the sake of solidarity, choose to do the right thing. Unlike other fantasy books, where the enemy is a demon, or someone possessed by evil magic, the enemies are people who think they have the right to rule unjustly, and treat the world like crap due to some sense of entitlement.
Robert Redick's ability to make the fight for good feel like a true struggle for the protagonists is amazing. I found a few of the good guys rather obnoxious, which can make the story difficult to get through at times, but overall, I'm very glad I purchased these books. I will warn you, though, that the series isn't complete, yet, and the second book ends on a rather extreme cliffhanger.
All the same, a definite must read for any fantasy reader.
I rarely write reviews on books. In fact, I rarely write reviews on anything. However, The Red Wolf Conspiracy earns the boon of my efforts. I am a science fiction and fantasy veteran. I have been actively reading books from these genres for the past 28 years so I feel I can offer an informed opinion. In addition, I have been listening to one or two audiobooks per month for the past two years or more. Over that time, I have come across many books that I might not have read otherwise. The Red Wolf Conspiracy audiobook rates among my favorites for many reasons. The complex story holds interest without feeling contrived. The characters are engaging and allow the reader to develop an desire to know more about them. The narrator, Michael Page, creates an wonderful ambience with beautifully fleshed out characters and an attractive English accent. Finally, Robert Redick's story allows the reader to dive deeply into a robust, many faceted, fantasy leaving them wanting more.
Residential architect in Texas. Avid fan of Tolkien and Sanderson (are there 2 more opposite fantasy writers?) Very varied tastes in writing
The Red Wolf Conspiracy is the 1st book in a 4-part sprawling epic fantasy. It is an intriguing story woven mostly around the voyage of an ancient and huge ship and the secret of it's real purpose. The narrative of the story comes from several viewpoints in the way of 1st person journal entries of the crew to family members, but is mostly centered around one of the lowest deckhands, nearly a slave and a young boy. He becomes the main character of the story and influences the entire plot though the relationships he makes, although at times it seems his story nearly comes to an end.
Michael Page, the narrator for this Audible version, has a fantastic range of voices and accents- it's easy to forget at times that you are listening to a single person reading the story. It really helps to distinguish the characters in your mind on another level and helps keep the story straight- you might forget a character's name, but recognize the voice. Some of the choices seemed odd at 1st, but they became part of the character quickly enough.
Overall, the story in the 1st book is very well thought through- it is complex but not overly so; engaging and deep. Some of the story is easy to figure out where it will go in general, but for the most part the story is unique and inventive. One of the really fascinating aspects of this fantasy is that almost the entire story is told from the perspective of life onboard the ship- the nautical aspect is pervasive and central to the story and the author has apparently gone to great lengths to make that aspect feel real, both in terminology as well as the chain of command with the crew of the ship. The ship's journey winds up becoming a key part of the entire political structure of the known world, and the story goes into the machinations of those empires and the subterfuge and conspiracies that follow.
Excellent book and well worth the time.
This book as been compared to George R.R. Martin and Philip Pullman's works, its not as good as either. Although it has a expansive convoluted plot it lacks any of the realism or character insight that Martin has. Although many of the characters are young adults and talking animals the plot is no where near as tight and fun as Pullman's books.
There are no outright bad ideas in this book, each plot element is well thought out in itself and the cast of characters is interesting. Where this book fails in in tying together any of this. I'm not speaking of the plot twists, as the first book of a series I don't expect every element to be brought together (even though this book does this) Its more like this author didn't know what kind of fantasy he wanted to write so he tried it all. If this book had been twice as long this may have worked but instead you get the feeling that he had to rush through certain parts.
The characters spend the vast majority of the book in terrible danger but since nothing truly bad ever happens you eventually stop worrying and just wait for the deus ex machina to kick in and save them.
Despite these things this is not a 'bad' book, its just not as good as it should be. This would be a good listen for young people or sensitive adults. There is no sex or really horrible violence in this book.
For those looking for a good nautical fiction, this book isn't really about the ship or sailing, much of the action actually takes place in the various ports. The sailing isn't described with much detail although you can tell that author has done some research.
The reader does a good job pronoucing the many invented lanquages and names that this story has, a difficult task in a book like since nearly every sentence uses them.
Like Oliver, I am hungry for more. Need to hear the second installment which, I believe, is out in England already. A book of rare richness; in it's universe, strata of society, and characters!
I loved this book for the first three-quarters. The conclusion left me seriously debating whether to continue the series. The writing is usually excellent, with only occasional descents into the ponderous dialect of High Fantasy. The world-building is superb and the characters are largely compelling (and Michael Page does a brilliant job of evoking them). For what I understand is an early effort, this is brilliant work. Unfortunately, Redick suffers from excessive ambition. His conspiracies are so elaborate and many-layered that he loses narrative control. At many points, he resorts to "round-table exposition" where a bunch of characters dump information on one another, to explain all the elements that were not coming clear in the normal course of events. For a while, I excused this, since Redick generally shows great creativity in narration (journals, newspaper articles, letters, letters intercepted, in addition to the usual 3rd-person narration). And conspirators need to conspire! But as we approach the ending, these info-dumps come fast and furious, sometimes in the middle of otherwise tense situations. I could feel the author frantically grasping loose threads, reminding of us of plot elements left forgotten for hundreds of pages. For the last hour, I got confused repeatedly and I still don't think I quite understand the thinking of the arch-villain at the end. I wish the editor had told Redick this was a great draft, but that it needed radical revision. Keep the length, but simplify the plot-lines to something more manageable. Then use the extra words to expand the narration. Show more; tell less. Let readers have "aha!" moments as they put things together. Make sure no important element is left forgotten too long. With another draft, this book would have been truly great. Still, I gladly finished it. When Redick sticks to his storytelling, he tells a cracking tale. I loved his characters and his world. I hope his next volume benefits from more experience.
It is, of course, difficult to judge a trilogy by one book, but I really enjoyed this first installment. There is a lot of description of new characters - at least five are introduced at length before the story gets under way, but I found the entire listen engaging and exciting - one of those I couldn't turn off, where I ignored the rest of my life just to listen more. I don't consider myself easy to please, but this book definitely swept me away. Of course, there is lots of magic realism (and lots of plain old magic) but it didn't seem silly. The character "types," while not entirely unrecognizable (small people, "awake" animals, sorcerers), were unique enough, and felt solid and interesting. It is not fair to compare this with George RR Martin (should he EVER bloody finish the Song of Ice and Fire), since his goal is sophisticated psychological character development and intrigue. Mr Redick seems more interested in the creation of a different universe, with more description of possible/unique types of creatures and societies - makes me think more of "Eragon," and Robert Jordan. Though, certainly the rest of the trilogy could prove me wrong on this point.
The sample on the home page of Michael Page's narration is not a good one - while his basic reading voice is a bit Stiff Old Brit, he does incredible character depictions, as good as I have ever heard. I really can't wait for the next book, and hope Audible gets it, as this was one of the most enjoyable listens I've had in a long time.
Enjoyed the story and most of the charecters were interesting throughout. Some action in the mix but not heavily if you are looking for a swashbuckler.
Be warned; This is book 1 one of ?. Nothing much is resolved in the end - maybe a half wrap up that is vaguely satisfying.
The main character is portrayed as a total dope with no initiative or ability to make a timely decision. I found this very frustrating, you may not.
I devoured this book! It's a great adventure in the classic style a la Treasure Island. This story, however, is a fantasy novel with magic, fantastic creatures, political intrigue, assassins and of course, conspiracy.
The writing is well paced, the story compelling, the characters interesting. It leaves you craving for more. What more could you ask?
Michael Page's rendering of this story is nothing short of superb. He has an amazing repertoire of voices and he gives each character just the right emotional feel. He has claimed a place in my top five audiobook readers.
I look forward to reading the next book. Like, right now.
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