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Publisher's Summary

The lady Snowraven becomes entangled in a tempestuous industrial revolution that promises to liberate the bleak mountaintop kingdom of Arkel-nia from the dominance of the Vosharian - a race of cunning and cruel bio-luminescent insects who have drained the kingdom's wealth for centuries. Nightmarish creatures whose taste for human flesh has decimated countless generations of Arkel-nian maidens - human sacrifices given in exchange for the glowing orbs that only the Vosharian can create. A vicious, unending cycle for the orbs, prized above all for the light and warmth they give. The only source of energy in the whole of the desolate snow covered mountains- until now…

©2011, 2012 Joseph Buzzoni (P)2014 Joseph Buzzoni

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

Red Sonja tempered with Capt Kirk style

You know, I am always on the look out for something different. I love Sci-fi and fantasy, and am really into Gamelit so I can enjoy something that is new and original, and baby . . . this is it! I like my heroes and heroines tough as nails and lugging around a take no crap attitude the size of King Kong's ping pongs. Shaska fits this bill like few others. She is a real warrior maiden, a bloodthirsty Valkyrie who isn't afraid to risk it . . . or even bare it . . . all. This was so much fun. I got this a lttle after 10am and finished before 5pm today. You have to respect a story that not only grabs you, but drags you down to the ground and doesn't let you up until it is finished with you.

I said in my headline that she has a Capt. Kirk style, and that is because she usually ends up losing her clothing or ditching them during a fight. Shatner lost his shirt in practically every fight he ever had. You ever see what Red Sonja wears? Well, if Conan wears a mankini, then Shaska makes him look like a pansy since she willingly strips down to her bare arse to fight. No armor, just her weapons against her foe. You might say that it is for a distraction, but I like to think that she's like one of the ancient Celts who went into battle naked just to terrorize their enemies.

The story, if you can't already tell, is action packed. The writing is crisp and clings to your ears, but more importantly it is a fun tale. While Shaska is stone cold serious, her talking furever friend is what really brings some light hearted levity into the equation. The two counterbalance each other very well, and one without the other wouldn't be half as excellent. I will say that this fits right in with Howard's Conan and Karl Edward Wagner's Kane saga. Shoot, I'd even stand this story beside Fritz Leiber's Ffafhrd and the Gray Mouser, since she is from that snowy area. The point is, even though this isn't one of those tales, this stands up to the ideas and concepts set forth, but lacks the sexism that some of those tales had.

There are a lot of various villains and foes for her to fight including wizards and beastmen. Each battle just exemplifies an excellence in storytelling, as they are vivid, detailed, and bloody. One thing that I enjoyed was that even though the MC gets nekkid a lot, she does not climb on every man she meets. Sex is a non-issue, which is great as it really wouldn't have a place here, and would only serve to hinder her characterization. I am sure that if she ever does the deed she will be in total control.

Franklin's narration is solid, and he really gets into it hardcore. The man has a seriously mean monster compatible voice that he makes sound effortless when he is in his inhuman mode of speech. He also sets a good rhythm to the story, and paces the plot along like a real pro. I have not heard him before today, but I'd have to say it sounds like he has been doing this for a looong time. He really made the story interesting, and You could just hear the steel in the MC's voice when he spoke. The man can do grit like he just rode out of the old west on Clint Eastwood's stolen horse. He really cranked this up a few levels.

Look at this, a four hour book and I am just rambling, but that is because it is sooo fun. I really enjoyed this tale, and I am sure that anyone who appreciate monsters, mayhem, bloody battles, and naked warrior goddesses will too. Seriously, how could you not? Don't waste your time with other books series, get in on the ground floor of this one and start enjoying a fantastic series.

By the way, the art on the covers is what initially dragged me in, it is phenomenal, and if you asked me, I wouldn't scoff at a graphic novel based on this book. She looks deadly and sexy, and you can't help but look at it and think why isn't this in a comic format already? If it was was it would already be a movie! Yes, this has a real cinematic feel to it, and it would make for a fantastic property. Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. Getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review. Please check out my other live reviews on the LITRPG Audiobook Podcast.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Conan has met his match & then some!

Snowraven Shaska is a warrior maiden of the mountain people of Arkel-nia. She was bred and born to a line of warriors, and raised in the inhospitable snowy-clad mountains. She doesn’t take crap from anyone, and her feats of courage and prowess in this novel prove it.

This book gets full marks simply because I enjoyed the hell out of it. Shaska is the female version of Conan the barbarian, running around defeating monsters and human foes alike, with or without clothes. This is the kind of book Robert E. Howard could have written if he had been able to forgo the racism and sexism that permeate his work.

The story starts simply with Shaska playing shepherdess to a flock of sheep – sheep that dig for insects to munch on. So maybe they aren’t as placid and cuddly as the sheep we know. She also has a talking fox companion (Lynx? I can’t recall his name exactly). He plays the fun fool to Shaska’s seriousness.

The action starts pretty quickly with this large, hideous beast man, Volg (spelling?), showing up to decimate her sheep. Later, she must fight Lord Vorata (spelling?), who is a giant glowing insect. For centuries, the mountain folk have made human sacrifice to the large insects in exchange for these glowing orbs that provide light and warmth. Later, she fights a wizard. More fights occur. Sometimes Shaska loses her clothes during the fight. Occasionally, she chooses to remove her clothes before the fight. I don’t get that, but I can still admire her lithe, muscular form (which is described often throughout the tale).

OK, so while I found it silly how often Shaska got naked, she still kicked ass every single time. It was awesome. There are other warriors who help or hinder her as they will. Then there are the monsters or modified humans (there is even one with tentacles!) who range in cleverness and viciousness. Plenty of weapons are employed throughout the tale.

Along with all the cool imagery is a touch of flowery prose. A few ‘thee’s and ‘thys’ are employed. It gives the whole story the feeling of an ancient epic tale being told by a bard. It is well suited to this adventure quest!

Sadly, there is no sex in this book. There are perhaps 2 or 3 innuendos, and with our heroine losing her clothes so often, how could there not be? ;)

Narration: Matt Franklin, who also narrated The Thol-ra, did another excellent job with this book. His voice definitely added to the bardic feel of this tale. He had a nice range of voices for the humans. His voices for the monsters, modified humans, and Shaska’s companion fox were awesome. Who else could do a slobbering, giant, glowing insect so well?