This was a solid book on all counts. The pacing was just right, it never felt that the story was languishing at any point - it always felt like the ch..Show More »aracters were moving towards a clear goal and there was always a sense of urgency.
Character development was handled skillfully as well. There are a LOT of characters in this book since we're dealing with effectively, an entire secret order of demon hunters. Add to that each of these hunters possesses a holy demon-killing weapon which is also, in and of itself, a character. Naturally, it can be difficult to progress and develop personalities within this large "cast" without feeling like you're getting bogged down with exposition. However, without getting into a lot of backstory on each individual - we are still able to learn about each character through their interactions with each other and with their environment.
I'm a sucker for good world-building, and myth-creation and I think Seth Skorkowsky does a fantastic job on both counts. The locales are easily visualized, and feel real and fleshed-out. The mythology surrounding the supernatural elements was an interesting twist on explaining the existence of monsters.
The action in this book is fantastic! The battle scenes are well-paced and fantastic fun to read. Major battle scenes play out pretty much as you'd expect if you were watching an R-Rated action or horror film - read: it gets pretty graphic at times. So if you're not a fan of that stuff, then this book may not be for you - but I am, so five stars all around from me!
Finally, R.C. Bray is fast becoming one of my favorite narrators on Audible. The guy has a pretty good range, and does a decent job of inhabiting the different characters (although sometimes his accents can be a little unconvincing). Also, his deadpan delivery of some of the funnier lines and observations from characters injects some extra levity throughout the story.
Hounacier, the second book in the Valducan series and the sequel to Seth Skorkowsky's Damoren, deals with the weilder of the demon slaying machete Hou..Show More »nacier, Malcolm Romero. After the murder of his mentor, the previous wielder of Hounacier, Malcolm returns to New Orleans to try and find the killer. He is instead drawn into his old life, a life filled with Loa, with voodooo priests and priestesses, where magic is real, and where a plot to have revenge against the wielders of Hounacier has Malcolms life and very soul, as well as Hounacier, in jeopardy. With a fast paced plot, exotic locations, really engaging characters and a villain that has a sympathetic reason for being that way, Mr. Skorkowsky has really taken this series to new levels, especially after the excellent work in Damoren. Any fan of Urban Fantasy should get a copy. This is as good as anything written by Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green or Tim Marquitz, who are some of my favorite urban fantasy authors. As far as narration, R.C. Bray does his usual spectacular job, breathing life into an already rich book. I anxiously await the third book.
If you’re thinking of getting this book, then you’ve likely previously read the first two installments of Skorkowsky’s Valducan series, and you probab..Show More »ly don’t need me to tell you that Ibenus is another enjoyable romp through demon-infested terrain. So, I’m not going to do the usual blathering on about how the Ibenus is fun, engaging, just dark enough to take more seriously than YA novels, and much better than I expected it (or the series in general) to be. Instead, I’ll just mention a few impressions, comparing a bit to the first two books… -- OVERALL (B): In short, Ibenus is not a deep book; no genres bent or minds blown or awes inspired. HOWEVER, it is a fun engaging book, with plenty of action to grab and suspense to hold. Good fun vacation from deep thinking, if you're in need of that sort of thing. -- THE STORY (B-): As a whole, the Valducan series is a solid entry into the urban fantasy genre (I’m still really surprised by how much I’ve liked these books). Skorkowsky has done a nice job creating a “magic & mythical creature system” that is original enough and detailed enough (without being overburdened by technicalities) to be a true asset to the Valducan storyline. It really is a refreshing spin on the mythical and demonic. Of course, there is a little less time spent defining said system/creatures in this book—thankfully avoiding too much redundancy. So, we get a slightly more streamlined version, as new characters have to “learn the ropes.” While none of these books are character studies by any means, there’s noticeably less depth in character development in this book than the previous ones, but they’re not totally flat either. If I were to over-simplify the first book, Damoren, I’d call it one of those “lone hero in a big world” sort of story as he’s enfolded in the greater battle. The second book, Hounacier, definitely returns to that grandeur in the end, but felt more focused on the tenebrous thaumaturgy of regional folklore (kind of a cool dark mysticism feel about it). While avoiding spoilers, I’ll just say that much of this third book departs from the previous tone(s) a bit for more of an “action movie monster hunter” kind of feel. It’s definitely a good book for anyone who enjoyed Arisen :). As far as the plot goes, the whole series is a little formulaic …BUT I’m fairly forgiving when it comes to the urban fantasy genre. If you’re looking for a fun (non-heavy) UF book, it’s hard to avoid the ol’ Mad-Lib plot of: [heroes] must save [world] by preventing [villains] from getting [magic stuffs] to do [bad stuffs]. So, I’m totally willing to let that slide in exchange for a fairly unique, engaging/exciting, spin on a demon-bashing tale that keeps me listening …which Ibenus, like the previous books, does in spades! :) -- THE NARRATION (A-): I always enjoy the narration/voice-acting of R.C. Bray! Once again, he did a great job of making an already good book oh so much better, employing a pace and tone that reflect the action and suspense of the story. There’s also a noticeable improvement in his character voices and accents since the first book. Do I have a criticism? Sure. Here’s one that dear dear R.C. just couldn’t get right: “chitinous” (ˈkītn-əs) bugs made of “chitin” (ˈkītn) can fly like kites, not fry like bits of pigs made of “chitlins.” It did provide a little comic relief to think of hog maws and chitlins when faced with demonic arthropods :). Once again, I'll forgive a little mispronunciation for such an overall great performance. Production quality and editing are solid too. -- -- A bit about my audiobook tastes (so you know how worthy/worthless you might find this review): I LOVE the abstract and awe-inspiring! I like a book to not only escape today, but largely escape reality. My most favorite books often tackle reality-bending quandaries and “what is human” questions OR totally and completely leave this world for another. I often find this best done through Sci-Fi books and atypical fantasy books (but keep the magical stuff in the fantasy realm). Re bent realities, Brian Greene's non-fiction cosmology books deserve mention too. Some of my favorite Sci-Fi = House of Suns & Revelation Space (Alastair Reynolds), Permutation City & Diaspora (Greg Egan), Blindsight & Echopraxia (Peter Watts), The Girl with All the Gifts (M.R. Carey), The Dark Forest (Cixin Liu). Some of my favorite Fantasy = anything by Neil Gaiman(!), Perdido Street Station & Kraken (China Mieville), Warbreaker (and most others by Brandon Sanderson), The Gunslinger (Stephen King), Age of Myth (M.J. Sullivan). …and anyone who thinks Song of Ice and Fire is better than Malazan Book of the Fallen is entitled to their opinions, as long as they’re OK with being wrong ;)