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Scott Simons

Aiken, SC
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  • Guns of the Dawn

  • By: Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Narrated by: Emma Newman
  • Length: 21 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 283
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 259
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 260

Guns of the Dawn is a pacey, gripping fantasy of war and magic from Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author Adrian Tchaikovsky. The first casualty of war is truth.... First, Denland's revolutionaries assassinated their king, launching a wave of bloodshed after generations of peace. Next they clashed with Lascanne, their royalist neighbour, pitching war machines against warlocks in a fiercely fought conflict.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Stand alone book

  • By M. McCormick on 01-27-18

Good Story, Could Have Been Better

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-05-18

Guns of the Dawn starts out with a bang. Emily, the main POV here, is writing a letter home. She starts out with one of the best lines ever to begin a book, "Today I killed my first man." From there the story shows Emily's first battle and how she eventually does kill her first man. After this first chapter I was thinking to myself that this book was going to be good.

Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed as the next third or so of the book flashes back several years. The back story of Emily and her family are not all that exciting, and actually quite boring. I can understand the need for some backstory to help understand the makeup of who the main character is and how that effects her circumstances, but it really threw the pacing of the book out of whack. Once the story finally catches back up to Emily, the soldier writing the letter in the swamps, this book turns dramatically. The battles in the swamps, and the stories of her fellow soldiers and enemy are exceptional. However, the story slows again to a trudge as the war ends and Emily returns home.

Guns of the Dawn had the potential to be a excellent book. Perhaps if the author had used flashbacks during the action to lay out Emily's back story, then the pacing would have been better served. As it is, exciting, boring, exciting, and then boring again, I found the book good, but not great. If not for the very good narration by Emma Newman, I probably would have given up on this book before it even got going, and almost did anyway.

Overall, this is a decent story if you have the patience to get through the beginning, and the narration is top notch. I will probably try other books from Adrian Tchaikovsky, and will definitely seek out future books narrated by Emma Newman.

  • Tyrant's Throne

  • Greatcoats Series, Book 4
  • By: Sebastien de Castell
  • Narrated by: Joe Jameson
  • Length: 19 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 227
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 215
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 213

After years of struggle and sacrifice, Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead king's dream: Aline, the king's daughter, is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once and for all. But for the Greatcoats, nothing is ever that simple. In the neighboring country of Avares, an enigmatic new warlord is uniting the barbarian armies that have long plagued Tristia's borders - and even worse, he is rumored to have a new ally: Trin, who's twice tried to kill Aline to claim the throne of Tristia for herself.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Can I go back in time?

  • By Stephanie on 10-03-18

Good Ending To This Fun Series

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

Reviewed: 08-21-18

Tyrant's Throne is the last book in the Greatcoat series, and I have to say I'm sorry to have it end. This book, like the others, continues adventure and humor that makes this series such fun. In the end, not all of their goals are accomplished, but the ending is satisfying.

Overall, I really enjoyed this series. Joe Jameson really is the perfect narrator for these characters, and with most of the main ones surviving until the end, I hope that Sebastien de Castell will some day revisit this world.

  • Saint's Blood

  • Greatcoats, Book 3
  • By: Sebastien de Castell
  • Narrated by: Joe Jameson
  • Length: 18 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 272
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 257
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 256

How do you kill a Saint? Falcio, Kest, and Brasti are about to find out, because someone has figured out a way to do it and they've started with a friend. The Dukes were already looking for ways out of their agreement to put Aline on the throne, but with the Saints turning up dead, rumors are spreading that the Gods themselves oppose her ascension. Now churches are looking to protect themselves by bringing back the military orders of religious soldiers, assassins, and (especially) Inquisitors - a move that could turn the country into a theocracy.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • inspires me to acts of valor

  • By Linda Corsten on 07-23-18

Favorite So Far

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

Reviewed: 08-08-18

The thing I loved so much about Traitor's Blade, the first book in this series, was the humor and sense of adventure. Knight's Shadow, book two, seemed to lose a little of that in the beginning before picking up steam, but Saint's Blood shoots out the gates with a return of the fun and adventure that made me love this series in the first place. The hilarious banter between Falcio, West, and Brasti, was a welcome return to the series, and Saint's Blood turned out to be my favorite book so far.

The narration from Joe Jameson continues to be perfect for this series. I am excited to move on to book 4.

  • Age of War

  • The Legends of the First Empire, Book 3
  • By: Michael J. Sullivan
  • Narrated by: Tim Gerard Reynolds
  • Length: 16 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 4,665
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4,405
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,378

The epic battle between humankind and their godlike rulers finally ignites in the masterful follow-up to Age of Myth and Age of Swords. The alliance of humans and renegade Fhrey is fragile - and about to be tested as never before. As the Fhrey overlords marshal their army and sorcerers to crush the rebellion, old loyalties will be challenged while fresh conspiracies will threaten to undo all that Persephone has accomplished. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The ending was heavy

  • By June C. on 07-09-18

Getting Better And Better

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

Reviewed: 07-22-18

The Legends of the First Empire has become one of my favorite ongoing series. Age Of War was everything I hoped it would be and more. The battle of humans vs frey has finally begun, and not all of our heroes will survive. I found myself laughing, frightened for the characters safety, excited by their heroism, and saddens by their loss. Not everything is roses in this book, but things never are in an age of war.

Michael J. Sullivan continues to amaze me with his ability to tell wonderful stories. Tim Gerard Reynolds' abilities as a top rate narrator only enhance a great thing. Can't wait for the next book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Knight's Shadow

  • Greatcoats Series, Book 2
  • By: Sebastien de Castell
  • Narrated by: Joe Jameson
  • Length: 20 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 355
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 333
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 331

A few days after the horrifying murder of a duke and his family, Falcio val Mond, swordsman and First Cantor of the Greatcoats, begins a deadly pursuit to capture the killer. But Falcio soon discovers his own life is in mortal danger from a poison administered as a final act of revenge by one of his deadliest enemies. As chaos and civil war begin to overtake the country, Falcio has precious little time left to stop those determined to destroy his homeland.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great Follow Up!

  • By @tone0189 on 01-30-18

More Fun Adventures

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

Reviewed: 07-17-18

Knight's Shadow starts up where the last book left off with our heroes on the run. As exciting as that sounds, book 2 doesn't quite get off the ground as quickly as it's predecessor. With two more added to the group of three, and a new army of Greatcoats, our heroes continue their journey to find their place in a new world. All is not what it seems though as there will be betrayal from within their new allies.

While this book seemed a bit slow at first, things got going about a third of the way in. Perhaps due to the advent of a war, the humor isn't as prevalent as before, but the characters, Falcio in particular, are still the driving force of this series. A few more of them are fleshed out in this volume, and the betrayal of one is a big part of the book. Though at times you wonder why the others were unable to figure it out for so long.

Overall, Knight's Shadow is another wonderful and fun tale from this series, and narrator Joe Jameson continues to do a masterful job.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Traitor's Blade

  • Greatcoats Series, Book 1
  • By: Sebastien de Castell
  • Narrated by: Joe Jameson
  • Length: 12 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 964
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 889
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 888

The King is dead, the Greatcoats have been disbanded, and Falcio Val Mond and his fellow magistrates Kest and Brasti have been reduced to working as bodyguards for a nobleman who refuses to pay them. Things could be worse, of course. Their employer could be lying dead on the floor while they are forced to watch the killer plant evidence framing them for the murder. Oh wait, that's exactly what's happening. Now a royal conspiracy is about to unfold in the most corrupt city in the world.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fun Adventure Fantasy

  • By Scott Simons on 06-19-18

Fun Adventure Fantasy

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

Reviewed: 06-19-18

There are certain things I like in a fantasy series. Good world building, fleshed out characters, plots and subplots, and an overall goal to the story. Traitor's Blade really doesn't have any of these things. The world is a vague European kings and queens type setting, the overall goal of the series is not really defined, and besides the main hero of the story, Falcio Val Mond, and perhaps his two best friends Kest and Brasti, the other characters in the book are pretty one dimensional.

Despite this, Traitor's Blade worked for me. Perhaps because of the other traits of second rate fantasy books not included. There is no poor child who awakens to a great magical power. No ridiculous evil force to recon with. No gathering of just the right tropes to set out upon a quest to find the magical relic that will save the world. No, Traitor's Blade is a pretty straight forward story about Falcio and his friends, former Greatcoats, the men founded to ride out into the country and distribute justice on behalf of the king. When the king is killed the greatcoats are disbanded leaving Falcio, Kest, and Brasti, without meaning to their world. The story follows the men on their journey to discover what comes next.

Traitor's Blade is not a deep fantasy book, nor is it a second rate clone. Traitor's Blade is a simple but fun story that is a good listen when you need something easier and just plain enjoyable. The story has humor and leads you on an adventure the likes of the Three Musketeers or similar stories. The narration from Joe Jameson was perfect for this story. I am looking forward to listening to the other books in the series.

90 of 92 people found this review helpful

  • A Veil of Spears

  • The Song of Shattered Sands, Book 3
  • By: Bradley P. Beaulieu
  • Narrated by: Sarah Coomes
  • Length: 26 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42

Since the Night of Endless Swords, a bloody battle the Kings of Sharakhai narrowly won, the kings have been hounding the rebels known as the Moonless Host. Many have been forced to flee the city, including Çeda, who discovers that the King of Sloth is raising his army to challenge the other kings' rule. When Çeda finds the remaining members of the Moonless Host, now known as the thirteenth tribe, she sees a tenuous existence. Çeda hatches a plan. The kings, however, have sent their greatest tactician, the King of Swords, to bring Çeda to justice for her crimes.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Minimal character growth, good world building.

  • By Amazon Customer on 07-03-18

Best Book Of The Series So Far

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-19-18

A Veil of Spears is my favorite book of the The Song of Shattered Sands series so far. After really enjoying the first book, the second seemed to drag a bit as more attention was given to secondary characters. A Veil of Spears returns the focus to Cheda, returning the series to the excitement of the first book. The other characters still have their storyline, and there were a few other added as well, but by keeping Ceda the center of attention sped the action along.

Narration from Sarah Coomes still remains hit and miss for me, but overall she continues to do a fairly good job. Overall, I am enjoying this series and am looking forward to the next book.

  • With Blood upon the Sand

  • By: Bradley P. Beaulieu
  • Narrated by: Sarah Coomes
  • Length: 30 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 103
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 97
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 96

Çeda, now a Blade Maiden in service to the kings of Sharakhai, trains as one of their elite warriors, gleaning secrets even as they send her on covert missions to further their rule. She knows the dark history of the asirim - that hundreds of years ago they were enslaved to the kings against their will - but when she bonds with them as a Maiden, chaining them to her, she feels their pain as if her own.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful addition to the story!

  • By superstardrifter on 10-09-17

Expanding Story

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-16-18

I didn't have as much trouble getting into With Blood upon the Sand as I did with the first book. this could be due to proceeding directly into this book after the last. The story of Ceda, who has integrated herself into the Maidens, continues to be the highlight of the series. She finds herself plotting to bring down the kings while at the same time training to do their bidding. The other characters in the book see their POV time expand. For me, I'm not sure this was a good thing as I spent a lot of the time during their parts wishing the point of view would switch back to Ceda. Other than Emre, the other characters just aren't that interesting, though I can see how they fill in plot elements that would be missing if the story centered only around Ceda. The flash backs continue in this book, though not as frequently they too have seemingly worn off there usefulness.

The narration from Sarah Coomes continues to be hit and miss. She has a nice voice, however the weird pronunciations, the whisper yelling, and the general feeling that her British accent don't quite fit the story, sometimes draw you out of your immersion into the world you are listening to.

Overall, I am continuing to enjoy the series. Despite a few boring parts and narration issues, I plan to continue on with the next book.

  • Twelve Kings in Sharakhai

  • Song of Shattered Sands, Book 1
  • By: Bradley Beaulieu
  • Narrated by: Sarah Coomes
  • Length: 25 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 231
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 215
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 215

In the city of Sharakhai, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape by a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai. Then on the holy night when the powerful yet wretched creatures known as the Asirim wander the city and take tribute in order to protect the Kings, one of them tells Çeda the origin of their dark bargain.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Ennui reigns.

  • By Will on 10-20-15

Original and Exciting

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-19-18

Song Of Shattered Sands has been sitting in my library for awhile. I have been wanting to listen, but seem to shelve it for other books, and to let more of the series be released. The reviews for this series has been mixed, but in the end I wanted to find out for myself.

Upon initially listening, I found it a bit difficult to get into the book. I don't usually mention the narration right away, but Sarah Coomes has an unusual style, and it takes several chapters to get used to it. Her pronunciation of some words are strange, and her pace is a bit slow and over enunciated. Also, it seemed a bit off having a narrator with a British accent as the voice of a desert themed story. Perhaps a narrator of middle eastern decent would have fit better. But after awhile I settled in to the story and began to enjoy Ms. Coomes performance. There were times when her pronunciation or feminine voice for a male character would pull me out of my immersion into the reading, but for the most part it was not a problem.

Once you get past the initial stages of the narration, you find that Song Of Shattered Sands is a pretty good book. The desert setting for the story is unique and interesting. Cede, the main protagonist, is a strong character who you want to root for. Seeking revenge for the death of her mother, Ceda's story is played out between her time learning to fight and seek vengeance on the Kings who murdered her mother, and flash backs to her growing up in a large and hostile city. There are other POV's in the story, but Ceda is the focus of this book.

Overall, after a slow start, I really enjoyed this book. It is original and the characters likable. I am looking forward to book two.

  • Grey Sister

  • By: Mark Lawrence
  • Narrated by: Heather O'Neill
  • Length: 15 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,585
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,489
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,481

Behind its walls, the Convent of Sweet Mercy has trained young girls to hone their skills for centuries. In Mystic Class, Novice Nona Grey has begun to learn the secrets of the universe. But so often even the deepest truths just make our choices harder. Before she leaves the convent, Nona must choose which order to dedicate herself to - and whether her path will lead to a life of prayer and service or one of the blade and the fist. All that stands between her and these choices are the pride of a thwarted assassin, the designs of a would-be empress wielding the Inquisition like a knife, and the vengeance of the empire's richest lord.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • It Shouldn't Be Great, But It Is

  • By Scott Simons on 04-19-18

It Shouldn't Be Great, But It Is

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

Reviewed: 04-19-18

We have all read books like this before. A child from some forgotten town is discovered to have some power or gift. Swifted away to some school or monastery to learn their powers before galloping off on a quest to save the world, collecting friends and tropes to help, protect, and die along the way. The heroe's powers gather as he/she battles the the forces of evil, a corrupt church, or corrupt monarchy.

Grey Sister, and The Books of the Ancestor series, follows along this path we have read many times before. You would think that would be the recipe for a average story with no hope of originality. So how does Author Mark Lawrence manage to weave a great story within the confines of a well used fantasy theme?

It starts with the main protagonist Nona Grey, the heroin of this story. Nona is not your common farm girl/boy who discovers that she has some awesome power bestowed to her and feels the need to do right and save the world. Nona's loyalties belong only to her desire for revenge, and the need to protect the only friends she has ever had. Nona is no pure hearted savior with any feeling of obligation to be humanity's protector, she is angry, and the heat of that anger drives her. It is this that makes Nona almost a anti-hero, the opposite of the usual noble savior of all that is good type protagonist that is the norm of this type of fantasy story. This is what separates The Books of the Ancestor series most of all. Nona Grey drives this story, and although she may not be the virtue of saintliness usually required to save the world, you can't help but feel she will accomplish it just the same.

The narration from Heather O'Niell seemed to improve for me this time around. I'm not sure if that is because she actually improved, or if I have just become used to her as the voices of these characters. She still remains a bit screechy for some male parts, but I enjoyed the performance.

Overall, Grey Sister is one of my favorite books so far this year. Maybe not a new theme for a fantasy series, but definitely a familiar setting shined up to make something wholly better. Can't wait for the next book.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful