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Ascendant: Book 1  By  cover art

Ascendant: Book 1

By: Craig Alanson
Narrated by: Tim Gerard Reynolds
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Publisher's summary

The Wizard's Council of Tarador was supposed to tell young Koren Bladewell that he is a wizard. They were supposed to tell everyone that he is not a jinx, that all the bad things that happen around him are because he can't control the power inside him, power he doesn't know about. The people of his village, even his parents, are afraid of him, afraid he is cursed. That he is a dangerous, evil jinx. The Wizard's Council didn't tell young Koren, because they know what is best for him. Even after their silent deception destroys his life.

Crown Princess Ariana Trehayme will become queen of Tarador on her 16th birthday, if her weak, indecisive mother the Regent hasn't allowed their ancient enemy to conquer Tarador before then. Ariana wants her royal army to strike at the enemy, but her mother knows what is best for her, and the realm.Together, Ariana and Koren can save Tarador, if the adults, who know best, will get out of their way.

©2016 Craig Alanson (P)2017 Podium Publishing

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What listeners say about Ascendant: Book 1

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A skeptic entertained

Honestly, I am not a passionate fan of the sword and sorcery fantasy genre. I am a huge fan of the Expeditionary Force series and RC Bray's narrating. So it was with quite some hesitation that I purchased this book after listening to what I felt was a lackluster uninteresting preview. I wasn't convinced the story or narrator would be a worthy investment of my time and money.

I preface this review with my doubts not to troll the author or the narrator but to give context for my review.

First, after having completed this book I can't imagine a better suited narrator for this story. The narrator quickly dissolves away into the story and there are only a wide variety of characters and adept accents left. Production value was very good. There were no noticiable splicing of vocals, popping, lisping crackling "ssss", or sharp audible inhalations from the narrator that are still far too commonplace in audio production these days.

The story is a well tested, well worn one but the relateable and developed characters make it easy for the listener to be absorbed into the environment as an observer. I am pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this story and can't wait to listen to book two.

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555 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A great coming of age fantasy tale

I have to say this isn't like Craig's other books. Instead of aliens this is a deep rooted world of magic, wars and outlaws. I guess it just goes to show the imagination of the author is quite wide. The book is entertaining and I found it enjoyable. However it could due with a bit more humor. But then again i'm a Skippy fan.

AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY

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185 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Loved it with one constant reservation

This was a really well written first book in a series. It's definitely at the high end of the quality spectrum from the writing and story-telling angle.

My reservation... I have read or listened to quite a few books whose major plot points are repeatedly driven by misunderstandings, characters accidentally over-hearing the exact wrong information at the exact wrong time, and characters inexplicably not revealing pertinent information that otherwise would bring resolution instead of conflict. In other books this usually happens "because reasons" or with no explanation whatsoever. With a book where this happens over and over, I usually make it about 4 hours in and then return it with prejudice. It's almost always lazy story-telling and so frustrating that I find myself wanting to choke the author for wasting what would otherwise be a good book.

In the case of Ascendant, the author manages to make it work (most of the time). These coincidence fails are overtly portrayed and mostly adequately explained. As a result I was able to enjoy the book and was only really in a choking mood a couple times... That said, if the inexplicable repetition of unfortunate coincidences continues through book 2 as the only device to move the plot then I'm pretty sure I won't be able to hang in for book 3.

My fingers are crossed because I really did enjoy this book.

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150 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

If you love being angry - this book is for you!

This book is a lesson in frustration. I listened until the last hour and I had to drop it - I don't think my car could handle the shouting (from me yelling at the characters). I love a good intrigue book where characters are hiding information from one another - but they have the worst possible reasons in this one.

It's particularly frustrating because the narrator is awesome, the characters are so likable, and the writing is actually really good. I listened to all of the EF novels and so I picked this up hoping for a good listen. Most of the book is fun to listen to with a really weird plot line where everyone decides to lie and withhold information from the main character for poorly thought out reasons. The world isn't anything special - pretty standard for the genre - and so the only thing the book has going for it is the characters and the writing.

Overall, if you like listening to fantasies, you like the farm-boy-turned-hero story, and you don't get bothered by characters doing really stupid things for really stupid reasons, then this book is for you. However, if you do get attached to characters and it really gets to you when they make idiotic choices, then avoid this one. I will not be reading books 2 and 3 - but I would like to know what happens. I suppose I will look up a wiki - because I can't take the stress of listening to it.

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135 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Lazy Repetitive Writing

For context, I love expeditionary force and Alanson changed my mind about military style sci-fi. I also love fantasy. Outside of "new moon" and book 10 of wheel of time...I have loved everything I have read on a variety of scales.

So when I say lazy writing, it isn't because the characters lacked depth or the story wasn't there but I am almost done with the book and he keeps re-asserting the back story. He keeps coming up with new ways to beat the main character down and through the book there has been 0 character development of any kind. The only other time I have seen a main character this abused in a series is Robin Hobbs "Assassin's apprentice" series. At least there was character development in those books.

They cant tell the main character he is important because he is too important, Yet the princess gets the exact opposite treatment? She is a figurehead, easily assassinated by the enemy but is paraded around with very little guards but our intrepid hero cant get 1 ounce of recognition because he is too important? Laaaaaaazzzzzzzyyyyyy.

Repetitive: It is almost like extra words were required by the editor so every few chapters Alanson made sure to re-iterate the back story. 13 hours so far of the same story...over and over...with no plot development, character development or anything.

The only thing that keeps me going is that there is no way a book can be written this poorly. There has to be a punchline somewhere I imagine some big reveal will happen at the end. Because right now every adult character is so shallow I am detached from them. Decisions are completely unbelievable. Hey I have an idea...lets steal all credit from a teenager, give him 0 recognition or a future just so he doesn't know he is useful. For extra measure throw him to the politics and ensure taht no matter what he does, he gets it ingrained that he is worthless. Do you know what this kind of parenting makes? Sociopaths.

Improvement to story. Compare and contrast the princess and wizard storyline. What happens to the two as they grow, wizard who has nothing and has everything taken from him while princess has everything given to her and moves forward. How do the two develop?

You can do better than read this book. Like go stare at some grass, maybe feed a duck.

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84 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

.....Not Impressed..

STORY
First, I did not like the predictability of the story, there was never a twist in the story that made my think "wow didn't see that one coming".

Second major issue is the simplistic 2nd characters. Since the whole story is based on characters misunderstanding what happens around the main character, all the characters come across as complete idiots. A good example is the court wizard. The wizard is supposed to be 180+ years old with vast magical power, knowledge, and cunning intellect. Instead he comes across as a complete fool as he can easily prevent a lot of the misunderstandings that happen to Koran by simply communicating with other characters or using common sense. His actions in the book completely contradict how he is described and presented. This happens with almost all the characters as well. They are described in one manner but then their actions, through simplistic thought processes, contradict their initial description just so the author can easily find a way to blame Koran in an effort to illustrate how his life is unfair

PERFORMANCE
I have never been a real big fan of Tim Gerard Reynolds in the first place,it just drives me crazy how he just always seems to read so slow. Like he always pauses after every sentence or phrase for a few seconds longer than it needs to be. i have listened to many other books that Mr. Reynolds has performed in, including Riyria Revelations, Riyria Chronicles, and The White Tower and only noticed it when i played it along with, or back to back with other readers.

OVERALL
Unfortunately this initial installment kept beating us over the head with just how unfair Koren Blackwell’s life is. Seventeen hours of misunderstandings and lies all to keep one very likable young man from his destiny! This book simply needed a good editor.

It just seamed like The whole premise that a 13 year-old saves the world again in fantasy fiction books is getting very old.

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63 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Oh! It’s a misunderstanding!

I love the characters and would probably love the book but I had to quit listening. I lost count of “misunderstandings” and misconceptions and oh hell its just one unfortunate and unbelievable coincidence after another. Just made me irritable. Sadly other than that it has everything I love in a book and as always Tim was great. I might give it another go and skip past the very predictable unfortunate misunderstandings.

So..... I did go back! I’m glad I did, it was frustrating at first, it was hard to get past the blatant use of coincidence. However, after finishing book two I was quite excited for book 3! I will further update my review after I think on it a bit.

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44 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Frustrating in the extreme

I started this book with the desire and wish to find a new series and author that I could continue listening to across many books. I end relieved for it to be over. In truth there are three reason I managed to finish this book:
1. I kept hoping it would turn a corner and improve.
2. As an audio book it was much easier to continue rather than pick another.
3. There's a quality to it akin to rubbernecking.

This book is absolutely infuriating, as its primary theme is miscommunication, misinformation, and assumption making. It is a common trope to have someone overhear a conversation and hear only the most damaging piece and thereby leap to the worst possible conclusion. In this book, for Koren Bladewell, this is an everyday occurrence and is the main driver of the plot. Because of this need to ensure that Koren believes he is a jinx and persecuted by all others, characters are constantly reacting in the worst possible way to all plot points...even when this completely contradicts elements of their character. This is seen particularly in the characters of the Regent and Lord Salva. The book becomes constant telling, as each character assumes Koren's a jinx, or too young to bear the truth, or a coward, or traitor, or assassin...the list is endless and ever more surreal. These assumptions break the story, as it so often shows that the characters (besides perhaps Koren and Ariana alone) are little more than echo chambers for Koren's persecution complex.

The narrator is generally OK for this book, however there are many cases throughout wherein he pauses awkwardly where it does not make sense...even mid-sentence.

Overall the general story follows your typical stereotypical fantasy fare, with a couple of ideas which were genuinely interesting. There is potential in the story. The writing does not live up to it.

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37 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Frustrating book

This book was entertaining and the reader did a great job, but it suffers from some of the issues I have with Craig Alanson as an author.

In an effort to sell more books he has a tenancy to not complete a story and to leave the story mid-stride for his next book. This whole book seemed like it was a set up for the next book.

Additionally Craig Alanson has the tenancy to stick with a single theme. While the interaction of Bishop and Skippy in Expeditionary Force is entertaining, the theme of misunderstanding in this book got annoying and burdensome. We all know that a simple misunderstanding can lead to some epic things, but this book contained so many that the misunderstandings became predictable.

Craig is great with the written word. His characters are believable, but sometimes his plot or theme seems flat and his ending a book mid-story is annoying. I’m really struggling with whether I can endure book 2 in order to see what happens or if I should cut my losses.

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36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

I have never been more frustrated...

Jesus Christ. No payoff, arbitrary cliff hangers, and all of the characters are completely useless. When I read or listen to a story, I really, really want payoff, not become enthralled halfway through only to find the characters see no real personal growth, and that the extremely cringy and convenient 'misunderstandings' the MC goes through make me want to not only delete the audio book, but burn the entire damn computer it was streamed on. I have never been as frustrated or as disappointed with a story in book form. It's only literal saving grace is that the ending of this book is still not as bad as the terribly written ending to Mass Effect 3. But as God is my witness, Ascendant is a close 2nd in my eyes. I do like Expeditionary force series by the same Author, and as long as the Author doesn't muck that up with cringy plot convenience, I will buy it. But not one more from this series. I'm still mad as I write this review at 11pm when I have to be up in 4 hours.

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32 people found this helpful