A city under siege…. An ancient book of forbidden magic…. A power that will save or destroy all!
The ancient desert city of Al-zora is under siege by a swarm of man eating insects - unleashed by a deposed queen's vengeful curse.
But on the eve of total destruction hope for salvation comes…. In the form of Princess E’feena - the renegade princess who enlists the help of the noble swordsman Alcar, her sworn protector, and Jzemlek the alchemist and thief. To claim an ancient book of forbidden magic.
A book hidden deep in the very heart of the city - a vile swamp haunted by man eating plants every bit as ravenous and deadly as the attacking swarm.
But to save her beloved city from total annihilation E’feena will risk anything - ignoring the warnings of the sages, defying her father, the king -whose word is law! Defying all who fear the uncontrollable magic will bring a far greater calamity!
For E’feena means to unleash the most powerful force locked within the mysterious tome….a force with the power to not only destroy the insatiable swarm….but also create a true nightmare….a fate far worse then the horde encircling the city walls -For princess E’feena means to unleash the dreaded Thol-ra itself!
A dethroned queen strikes out into the desert seeking an ancient power to take revenge on those who toppled from her throne. She unleashes an army of giant insects who lay siege to the city. The princess E’feena disobeys her father's decree against using magic and goes in search of a magic capable of stopping the attacks. She's joined by her sworn protector, Alcar, and a trickster alchemist, Jzemlek. The source of the magic is located in a dangerous citadel guarded by the murderous Thol-ra. E'feena will do anything and sacrifice anyone to save her city from the insects. But in unleashing the Thol-ra, she may inflect a worse fate on her people.
This is a standalone story with no cliffhanger. There was a lot of action packed into this novella, but it was also full of detailed descriptions. The author really portrayed the world and each setting well. The characters were interesting, E'feena was a ruthless leader, one who would use any means necessary to achieve her end. Alcar was the voice of reason, but limited by his absolute obedience to E'feena. Jzemlek was out to save his own elfish neck. They made an interesting trio.
I think that listeners will either love or hate the narration, there's no middle ground. The writing was quite dramatic, each character snarls or snaps or wails, they never "said" anything. Matt Franklin definitely portrayed that dramatic style, reading the story in a grandiose rolling manner. I found it entertaining, but I'd recommend sampling it for yourself.
Is there anything you would change about this book?
It always take a few minutes to adjust to a narrator, especially if I've never listen to them before, but I just couldn't adjust to Matt Franklin. His voice detracted from the story for me. I felt as though he was taking himself too seriously, as though his acting was more important than the actual tale.
What other book might you compare The Thol-ra to and why?
It reminded my of Tigana. Also a bit of Virconium, but I didn't like that book, and I did like Thol-ra.
Would you be willing to try another one of Matt Franklin’s performances?
Oddly enough, yes. I listened to samples of some of his other performances, and they seemed much better. It must just be the way he reads these SnowRaven Chronicles I can't stand.
Any additional comments?
This isn't my usual cup of tea, but I enjoyed the story.
A queen has been deposed, and she is quite ticked about it. Unleashing a swarm of man-eating insects, she intends the city of Al-Zora to fall. In steps the Princess E’feena. She is dedicated to saving the city, but she can’t do it alone. She enlists the help of the great swordsman Alcar. They in turn are ‘assisted’ (or perhaps hindered) by thief and alchemist Jzemlek. Together, they must find and lay claim to an ancient book of powerful magic. However, this magic may unleash something worse than large man-eating insects; it may unleash the Thol-ra!
While this was a short story, or novella, there was plenty packed in to it. I quite enjoyed each of the 3 main characters. They each arrived fully developed and went on to kick butt or get in the way or save the world. There was plenty of swords and sorcery in this novel, which kept the level action high throughout the book. I also liked that it was told in a almost epic story style instead of a pulp fiction style.
E’feena wasn’t simply a princess with a plan, a plan that involved warriors or magic users doing all the heavy lifting. Nope! She jumped right in and got dirty, taking care of business. I really liked this aspect to her, as I believe even princesses have jobs to do, especially if they want to save a city under siege.
Jzemlek was undeniably the fool and comic relieve. At first, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy his character, but after some buffoonery, I grew to like him. Alcar was a the straight man. I could just see him rolling his eyes at Jzemlek throughout the tale.
The quest itself was well done. It wasn’t simple for E’feena to get her hands on the magic book, and even then, she had to make a big decision about whether or not to use it. The ending was most satisfying.
Narration: Matt Franklin did a good job on the narration. The story was told in the 3rd person, like a bard reciting a tale during a long dinner. He had a good range of voices for the various characters, both male and female.