The Snowraven Chronicles: Thian Oil by AJ Spencer - the final installment in the Snowraven Chronicles series: The lady Snowraven, fallen out of favor with the duke's inner circle, returns to the simple life of a humble shepherdess... But to lead her flock through the very heart of the mighty Andereke mountains, she must either cross the fabled bridge of Nelchatta... and pay the troll's terrible price... or risk being trapped by the nightmarish Thian Oil pits... a dark and terrible fate from which few escape... The putrid sludge from centuries of nexil-orbs - haunted by the vile creatures transformed by its insidious evil. All while the Vosharians lay siege to the duke's greatest stronghold - the Snowraven embroiled in one final battle that will either spread the revolution of industry to every corner of the world... or destroy it forever...
Note: Even though this is Book 4 in the series, it works as a stand alone.
The book blurb on Audible says this is the final installment to the SnowRaven Chronicles. I really, really hope that is not the case!
Saska has returned from the High Seas, out of the Duke’s favor. She has gone home to her sheep and the Andereke mountains. Her beloved mutated fox-serpent companion Lynx is still with her. Together, they must lead the sheep home through the treacherous mountains. There will be deadly, sneaky serpent-like monsters, dastardly trolls, the horrible thian oil and its inhabitants, plus a giant spider monster! Saska will have plenty of opportunity to fight all of them, clothing optional as always.
I have really enjoyed this series. Saska is such a fighter, holding tight to her honor and assessment of what is right or wrong in the moment. Her companion Lynx is a steadfast furry that not only keeps her warm on occasion but rescues her from time to time. Scout Tommy Calvor (spelling?) joins in the second half of the book. That may just be his coat Saska is wearing on the cover illustration.
Throughout the series, we have had minor clashes between the Vorashian industrialism that creates the highly prized nexil-orbs (which can provide both heat & light) and the old way of doing things – magic, hard work, raising hardy bug-eating sheep. In this installment, the two worlds butt heads big time. As monster after monster demand that Saska sacrifice a sheep or two, and maybe a human or three, she finds herself feeling the need to rid the earth of one more greedy monster, old school or industrialized.
The thian oil is a by-product of the production of the nexil orbs. It has to be disposed of somewhere, and that somewhere appears to be a deep ravine in the Andereke mountains. And somewhere along the way, some misguided humans started worshiping some monster deity associated with the oil. In their prayers, they became contaminated with the stuff and then mutated. These scenes where Saska is trying very hard to safely navigate over or past the thian oil were some of my favorite, mostly because it involves a lot of fighting and much of it in the nude. Yep, our heroine can not be taken out so easily even if she has lost all her clothes.
The story leaves us with a satisfying end to this one tale, but with plenty of questions for Saska’s future. So I am really, really hoping that this is not the final installment. After all, there are still more monsters to fight, more nude battle scenarios to be carried out, and what about her male entanglements?
Definitely a worthy installment in the series with plenty of mayhem and fun for the listener/reader.
Narration: Matt Franklin has returned as narrator for this book and once again did a great job. I really missed his performance for Book 3 and was so pleased to hear him in this installment. His rich stage voice adds an air of the epic poem to these tales, allowing for all the just-over-the-top fight scenes to be enjoyed fully. Just think of Beowulf’s naked fight scenes with his monster and how that just would seem a little silly if it wasn’t an epic Norse tale meant to be told around a campfire. That’s what Matt Franklin brings to these books.