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Al-Khemet Book Club

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  • 6
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  • The Sacred Band

  • By: Janet Morris, Chris Morris
  • Narrated by: Christopher Crosby Morris
  • Length: 31 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 37
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 36
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 35

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.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Epic Fantasy Tale

  • By Carmen C on 12-07-14

A Great Story

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-02-15

Any additional comments?

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Lollipop

  • Adventure Two (Book #2 in Adventures of Alex and Katie series)
  • By: Julia Gousseva
  • Narrated by: Rebecca Lea McCarthy
  • Length: 1 hr and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 3

A young man named Emelya is imprisoned by an evil tsar. Alex and Katie rush to the rescue. When they stop by a log cabin to ask for directions, a creature in a sheepskin's coat with green furry hands opens the door. His emerald eyes shine a bright green light right at Alex and Katie. Is he a friend or an enemy? Will Alex and Katie find Emelya? Will they return safely to Aunt Karina's house?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful narration of a fun story!

  • By Al-Khemet Book Club on 01-16-15

Wonderful narration of a fun story!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-16-15

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?



The kids and I loved listening to this story. Alex and Katie's adventure is exciting, especially when they get to the palace and meet the evil tsar. The idea of using lollipops to make friends (share what you have, and others will like you) sends a nice message to the kids. The character of the strange forest creature is hilarious -- ugly on the outside but with a great soul. Rebecca Lea McCarthy's narration is amazing -- we felt like we there watching a play in a theater, not just listening to a story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Gray Shadows

  • Russian Bodyguard, Book 1
  • By: Julia Gousseva
  • Narrated by: Jack de Golia
  • Length: 4 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 31

Nikolai, a bodyguard in the prestigious Centurion Personal Protection agency, is injured in the line of duty. While recovering from his injuries, he is assigned to a new client. An easy case, his boss tells him. Nikolai travels to a small quiet town north of Siberia to provide protection for a young woman, on her dad’s request. At first, both Nikolai and his boss see the assignment as a whim of a rich overprotective father.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • North of Siberia there is crime, too!

  • By Jan on 01-28-17

Dark, atmospheric thriller set in Russia

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-24-14

Any additional comments?



Exciting mystery/thriller set in the middle of the cold Russian winter in a small oil town by the Arctic circle. The main character is a bodyguard who arrives to the small town of Upper Luzinsk to act as a chaperone for a spoiled rich girl, or so he thinks. The town is small and quiet, but already on the way into town, Nikolai starts noticing strange things: no people in the streets, suspicious activity in the compound where the oil company is located, and a dead body that the locals try to explain away. As he gets to know the director of the company and the local head of security better, he learns secrets that will eventually put his life in jeopardy. A well-written story made even more exciting by the great narration of Jack De Golia. His pace is excellent, his delivery is smooth, and his Russian accents are very believable. I look forward to the next book in the series!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Firebird: Adventure One

  • Adventures of Alex and Katie, Book 1
  • By: Julia Gousseva
  • Narrated by: Rebecca Lea McCarthy
  • Length: 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10

Instead of traveling to Russia with mom and dad, 10-year-old Alex and his nine-year-old sister Katie are stuck in a creepy old house with their weird Aunt Karina. Alex thinks that his summer is ruined. But then the kids discover a portal that leads them into the magical world of the Firebird. That world quickly becomes dangerous. The kids search for the way back, but instead find Baba Yaga, the Russian witch.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A lighter, happier take on Russian fairy tales

  • By Adam B Crafter on 01-13-15

What a fun book!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-24-14

Any additional comments?

The kids and I enjoyed listening to this modern version of the Firebird, a Russian fairy tale. Their adventures into the magical land, their encounter with the Russian witch (Baba Yaga) and their search for the healing feather that would help their weird Aunt Karina were exciting. Rebecca Lea McCarthy did a fantastic job with all the different voices. We especially liked Aunt Karina and Baba Yaga, but all the voices are distinct and memorable. We hope the series continues!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful