The Sacred Band of Thebes lives on, a world away, in this mythic novel of love in war in ancient times. In 338 BCE, during the Battle of Chaeronea that results in the massacre of the Sacred Band of Thebes, the legendary Tempus and his stepson cavalry rescue 23 pairs of Theban Sacred Banders, paired lovers and friends, to fight on other days. These 46 Thebans, whose bones will never lie in the mass grave that holds their 254 brothers, join with the immortalized Tempus and his Sacred Band of Stepsons, consummate ancient cavalry fighters, to make new lives in a faraway land and fight the battle of their dreams where gods walk the Earth, ghosts take the field, and the angry Fates demand their due.
©2010 Janet Morris and Chris Morris (P)2014 Janet Morris and Chris Morris
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This book is a rich tapestry of myth, war, love, and honor woven with great care by two outstanding authors. This epic book is reminiscent of classic literature, and I'd recommend it highly to lovers of history and legend.
The Sacred Band by Janet Morris and Chris Morris is an epic story of love in war that begins at the historical Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC and ends with a battle for the hearts and souls of Tempus' Sacred Band.
The story is narrated by one of the two co-authors, which makes it ery special. Who knows the hearts of characters better than their writers? Chris Morris' cultured voice is always low, gritty, and controlled, because the soldiers of the Sacred Bands feel they are failing if the lose control of their tempers or their voices. In an accent that might be British or American, this skilled narrator takes you inside the minds of the ensemble cast of lovers and warriors, where the real action is. He makes you feel the suspense, the struggle, and the passion of each character. And the story is full of suspense and action as young recruits in their teens and pairs of male lovers prepare for the battles of tehir lives. Wonderfully written, in a style reminiscent of Homeric myth, these characters love and hate, grieve and triumph with such clarity that you feel you are there beside them.
You can smell the grass, the sweating horses, the blood as the twenty-three pairs of male lovers from the 300-strong Sacred Band of Thebes are saved by Tempus' forces using magical means. You can taste the Thebans' bitter remorse at having lived while their brothers were massacred, their confusion when Tempus, a demigod, takes them to a town full of thieves and murders to train for an undisclosed mission. Although The Sacred Band is the triumphant capstone to the Sacred Band of Stepsons series, which itself began iwith stories for million-selling Thieves' World, this Heroic Fantasy novel can be read and enjoyed without having read any of the earlier books. I know, because that's how I came to this book, with no knowledge of its extensive pedigree.
This story is so gripping, so completely unlike any other, than when I was done I wanted to get the earlier books to reconnect with the Stepsons' world. In a time when sex between men was common, and sex between humans and gods was accepted, this book is never salacious, but gives us a view of ancient Greek sexuality, and sexuality earlier still, all the way back to Akkadian times. Whether you're male or female, if you don't fall in love with Niko, Tempus' partner, I'll be surprised: even the gods fight over his affections. And when the Sacred Band fights, gods fight for them and against them, sorcerers walk with the earth, elementals play their parts, as this magnificent epic plays out. Which brings me back to Chris Morris' stunning narrative: never overwrought, always tuned to the nature of each character in turn, the narrative paces you, draws you in, immerses you in a world of heroes and villains, magic and mystery, that you won't want to leave.
Audible audiobooks have a wonderful feature which lets you vary the speed of your listening without changing the pitch of the narrator. At no time was I tempted to slow down or even speed up the narration. I thought the pacing of this story perfect, unadorned with cheap sound effects or funny voices as it is -- an honest story of extraordinary events told as if the narrator had lived them. Which, since Morris was the co-author, he may have. Listening to The Sacred Band, you hear a Homeric, dark tale that exciting, frightening, passionate, and probing, making you be proud to be human, making you want to be a hero. So what are you waiting for? The Sacred Band will loan you a war horse when you listen to the first page. Swing astride, and have a great ride.
The story is exceptional. Its both epic and profoundly intimate at once.
Christopher Morris narrates with ease and a believability that carries you well past what even words can tell. You're there.
Honestly I love the opening scene. There's so many others though. But mostly its the awe that you're left with when men mingle with gods.
First Scene. That moment when history and mythology bleed together. The poetry and melancholy of war. When Tempus the demi-god is brought down low for tampering with the fates of men. What better story is left to come after than redemption. It's the best kind of story.
Left me in awe.
Love the author. Love the story. Love that I now get to listen to it and fall into it a little bit more as well.
I'd recommend The Sacred Band to anyone who loves Homeric epics, historical fiction, the ancient word, gritty high fantasy, or sword & sorcery. An ensemble cast from the bestselling Sacred Band of Stepsons series face their greatest trial in this epic novel, which is not for the faint of heart and contains mature themes.
Tempus Thales, the leader of the Stepsons, favorite of the storm god, and Niko, his protege, who is is a lover as much as a fighter, are my two favorite characters. In this band of brothers and lovers, it's hard to pick just one where the women, goddesses and witches are as powerful as the men and sometimes more so.
This is the first audiobook of Christopher Morris' that I have heard, but I love his music.
This is an epic novel, too long to hear in one sitting. Even with the speed set at 1.25 or 1.5, and listening until the wee hours of the morning, this books gives you a long adventure and must joy, riding with Tempus and the Stepsons.
The Sacred Band begins in a fog of war which takes their story back to Sanctuary a decade after they'd left it. If you've read other books in the bestselling Sacred Band series (Beyond Sanctuary, Beyond the Veil, Beyond Wizardwall, etc.) you'll be coming home. If you are new to this series, The Sacred Band is a perfect place to start. Enjoy and, as the Stepsons say, "Life to you and everlasting glory."
Christopher Crosby Morris' narration of this epic story is perfect. His deep well-modulated voice drew me into the story. I run while listening to books, and found myself running further to hear the next part. Thankfully this audio recording is over 31 hours, enough narration for lots of runs.
Exquisite, Extraordinary, & Epic
Linguistic richness employed by the author. There is an extraordinary attention to detail in order to give the words a full, resonant, rise and fall that tells a story within a story. Here is only one example of countless others: (quote)
"These 46 Thebans, whose bones will never lie in the mass grave that holds their 254 brothers, join with the immortalized Tempus and his Sacred Band of Stepsons, consummate ancient cavalry fighters, to make new lives in a faraway land and fight the battle of their dreams where gods walk the Earth, ghosts take the field, and the angry Fates demand their due. (end of quote)
Nico was lead through marble halls. As if she'd seen a ghost, ageless, she seemed 30, but was far beyond 300! She had a voice full of seduction, always, but not today. Something was very wrong. "What is it, Nico?" What happened? As she came up close, he bowed his head to look into those gray eyes...
No way, it's far too long.
The narrator, Chris Morris, captures the ethos, pathos and logos of the story as only one who is intimately familiar with the story could do. Outstanding vocal performance and an extraordinary epic story go well together. Highly recommended!
I am an author of dark fantasy, including my Ways of the Stygia series.
I already am. It is a marvelous experience to hear Chris Morris' understanding of the Sacred Band translated through each nuance of the novel, breathing to life the characters and scenes, all fantastically realized in this audiobook set.
They are too numerous to list.
You can feel the stakes, the emotions each character faces. Bravery is expressed eloquently. Each character is represented in such a way that I cannot imagine them sounding different. Chris' performance pulled me into this world- and its battles.
"Delivering the goods!"
I did not find The Sacred Band- it found me. It sought me out, where I live inside. This series is packed with genius and it shows, in every word and sentence, with every word spoken by Chris Morris- through every fighting scene- it resounded inside my head and tugged at my heart.
Throughout the ride legendary authors Chris & Janet Morris deliver the goods.
There are other fantasy series, but none guarantees a better experience than The Sacred Band, the capstone novel from one of the greatest fantasy series of all time. Add this one to your collection, you will not regret it.
Really helped capture the listener's attention.
If you like being taken to a world of gods, demigods, mortals, and other beings, this book wont disappoint. Just the perfect blend of believable dialogue with exceptional imagery. A highly engaging page-turner indeed.
When you listen to this book, you’d better hope you aren’t driving, or trying to lull yourself to sleep as so many of us do with audio books. This book will wake you up, and drag you into it, making concentration on anything but the mood and vision it evokes difficult at best.
I like to think that audio books are a great way to experience your favorite books again (for the very first time, as they say). This book, read by Chris Morris, was just that—an all new, immersive experience that brought exciting, frightening life to a book that I loved when I read it the first time. It was the same, excellent book, only different.
I’ve listened to some of my favorite books on audio before – books like Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series, “The Lord of The Rings,” and several others. But, in each of these, the professional narrators often times seemed canned or forced. The Sacred Band has none of that corporate, sterile feeling that one can get from a professional oration, and you aren't listening to a voice that you may have heard before.
Chris Morris brings the work to life. I know it sounds cliché, but no truer words can be said. He knows the characters, knows the setting better than anyone. And it shows in his creative genius. You will feel the crushing oppressiveness of the setting, the desperation of the Band, the darkness that threatens to consume these deeply flawed characters. You will feel the heroic call, the gut wrenching sacrifice as you lie there in the dark with the Band, draw steel and go to work.
It will all be there, just on the edge of your periphery, as if you watched it unfold outside your castle’s murder holes.
You will get a whole new, deeper take on this book if you listen to this audio version than you did when you read it. You will take away the author’s meaning, the author’s own desires, the author’s deathly intent in everything that happens within the audio pages.
It will be all new for you. All new. All better. I suggest you take a listen. You may just find a new and desperate life for a great book, all filled with darkness and dread.
This is my favorite. I have already reviewed this classic novel for Black Gate Magazine, Amazon and GoodReads. Chris Morris delivers a well-paced and thoughtful reading that gives one the sense of story, the aura of the novel, and does not leave you wondering or confused. His voice, his delivery are perfectly suited to this complex story, and he captures the voices of each character is fine and dramatic form. Bravo!
Hard to choose among a cast of such strong and memorable characters: Niko for his humanity and tribulations; Randal for his human frailties and abilities; Ischade and most especially, Shamshi, the villain who elicits such pity.
Among many memorable scenes, the one that hit me the hardest is the poignancy and power, the sadness and necessity of the final battle, where the fates of Askelon and Shamshi are revealed.
Yes, but I had to listen to it over a 3-day period, due to my personal schedule.
Now that you've listened to the audiobook, go out and read the novel. Go out and read every Sacred Band novel, listen to every Sacred Band audiobook you can get your hands on. Long life, to you, and everlasting glory!
"Highly Recommended - An Epic 5*****"
The Sacred Band by Janet Morris & Chris Morris
Without doubt, a magnificent read of epic proportion filling the pages of this stunning work presented by these two authors. The Sacred Band is full-to-the-brim of myth, adventure, ghosts and gods entangled with love and war in this gripping tale.
The writers certainly know how to captivate their readers with strong characters, battle scenes, heroic gestures and torment. The book has a very 'real' essence and you will feel you are part of this wonderfully descriptive amazing page-turner. You will certainly struggle to pull yourself away from this one.
I can't believe I haven't stumbled upon these authors before - time to search through the other numerous books written - true genius!
An extremely well-written novel that will remain in your thoughts for a very long time.
Highly recommended - an epic 5*****
Hearing the characters come to life.
When the immortalized cavalry commander Tempus, with his younger partner Niko's squadron, rescue 23 pairs of male lovers from the doomed Sacred Band of Thebes and bring them to the fantasy town of Sanctuary for training and then the angry Fates and Harmonia follow these warriors.
The passion of the characters and all the wonderful action is brought to the forefront, in all its gore and savagery.
I found myself gripped to my seat and edging closer to the speakers. There were some horrific moments that made me eager to hear what was coming next.
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