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Publisher's Summary

The first book in the Song of Shattered Sands trilogy - an epic fantasy in the vein of A Thousand and One Nights.

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. And this dangerous secret may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai....

©2015 Bradley P. Beaulieu (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Voice acting poor and overdone.

I abandoned the book after an hour because the performance of the narrator was the verbal equivalent of William Shatner's acting. Everything was drawn out, over-enunciated, unnecessarily stressed. The male characters also mostly sounded muddled and mildly brain damaged. I just decided I'd rather read it than keep listening to so distractingly poor a performance.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Ennui reigns.

Bought the book because I like a fantasy - sci-fi and strong female protagonists, but I could not get behind Ceda or into her world. She's unbeatable in the arena, but inexplicably, got walked over elsewhere. I got through a few hours of of disinterested listening. I realized it had taken me weeks to read so little. A few more weeks passed without turning this book back on. I love Audible, and have quite a few books piled up to read, but this book killed my desire to listen to books. (I filled up my driving and gym time with podcasts - check out Serial.) I didn't dislike Ceda or the other characters, and the narration was forgettable but not objectionable. It was just boring. My bad. I should have switched to another book. Today, I started listening to Career of Evil, and returned this book to Audible. (The return option is great! I've been an Audible member for 12 years, bought over 900 books, and returned only a handful, but the option takes the risk out of buying a book.)

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Great story but annoying performance

I like the story. However, I found the narrator annoying. Why English accent? The way she randomly change her voice for the same character also does not make sense either. Hopefully, she improves for the next novel. Otherwise, I won't buy the next book as an audible version.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Pretty boring book and slow delivery.

It was a pretty boring book, with slow delivery. It is not worth spending a credit on.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Entertaining story, great world-building

Picked this one up on a whim without reading any reviews and was pleasantly surprised. The world and story setting felt both fresh and creative. I particularly enjoyed how the story and background of the twelve kings was gradually discovered throughout the book. I'll be looking forward to the next instalment in the series, just to read more about the world and its story.

Storytelling and progression itself was also entertaining enough. However, don't jump in expecting too much depth from the main characters. Both Çeda and Emre felt somewhat naïve and overly obsessed with a single thought, which I found seriously off-putting and almost binned this as a 3-star book because of it. The overall story and, surprisingly, the narration made me rethink the rating, though.

So, the narration... Yes, the narrator puts a lot of emphasis into the voices. Yes, she can't growl like an angry old man (have you heard Roy Dotrice's female voices, though?). Yes, she makes this feel more like a story book than serious contemplation over politics and oppression of an imaginary city. And yes, without her, I believe the book would have been far less entertaining to listen to. Character dialogues are often lacklustre enough, so I dread thinking what they would sound like in a steadily monotonous voice. :)

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Epic to a fault, fantastic lore, superb performance

I found Twelve Kings to be so grand and epic that it became exhausting or cumbersome at times, but it’s not self absorbed or grandiose. All of that weight, all of that story, makes to climax all the more powerful.

The setting is brilliant for being anything other than the Europe-esque standard of most fantasy. The place names and especially the character names were refreshing, if a bit hard to keep straight due to their unusual flavor. I count that as a deficit of the genre and of myself as a reader, though, and not a weakness of the author or story.

The magic is loose and understated, and I like that. It’s not a common presence in the everyday life of the characters, and therefore takes on an inherent mystery and ancient nature.

Ms. Coombs’ performance is stunning. Full of emotion, varied and consistent in voices, confident with unusual words and names.

I’m not yet 100% sure if I’ll continue following the story, to be honest. The magnitude of it is daunting to me.

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Song of Shattered Sands

I wonder how many times I've been tempted to start a review with this may be my new favorite series of all times or my new favorite author... There are some really amazing worlds and magic-systems out there, and this one is one of the best. I hesitated to read it because of several negative reviews on Audible and I'm so glad I went with my gut and grabbed this book, because I ended up really loving it! I can't give it 5 stars all the way across because it took me a little bit to get used to the narrator. That seems to be the complaint of others as well. Honestly, though, by the end, I couldn't imagine anyone else's voice doing the narration. Just stick it out, it's a great story.

The story begins in medias res, so the reader needs to be patient and let the story unfold the way Beaulieu tells it. We start with Ceda, a tough-as-nails teen orphan girl who has taken to pit fighting to make her way on the streets of Sharakhai. We learn about the life of the poor of children Sharakhai, the gutter wrens, the Kings who rule, the Maidens who guard the Kings, and the Asirim who are the monsterous and mysterious dangerous slaves of the Kings.

There are a large number of story lines, all somehow tied to Ceda and as the story unfolds, her role and importance to the city becomes increasingy understandable.

There is a little love story blooming with her childhood friend Emre, creating a little angst and suspense.

To wrap up...This may end up being my new favorite series of all time. We'll have to see:)

For those who care: yes, there is sex, drugs, cursing in the book. It's not like Game of Thrones, but it's not clean.

“AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY”

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So Good!

So nice to read a fantasy not set in a middle ages European setting. I can't wait to start the next book.

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Wonderful story, wonderfully narrated!

Having listened to the audiobook put me at an instant advantage, because I never needed to find out how to pronounce Çeda. I would have stumbled over the name like an idiot every time I saw it in print. (It’s pronounced Chay-da, for those interested.)

Çeda is an awesome character and I really liked hearing her story. She is a woman living in the slums of Sharakhai, the great desert city, making her way day to day by fighting anonymously in the fighting pits, and running errands (of the sensitive and probably not legal kind) and delivering packages (of the almost definitely not legal kind) for the pit master. One night, a holy night, she is running one such errand and sees the Kings of Sharakhai. The very kings she’s sworn vengeance against since they executed her mother when she was young. This leads her on a journey of self-discovery, full of riddles about her past, her parentage, and the Kings themselves.

The book starts out with a scene in the pits with Çeda just laying the smackdown on her opponent, a man probably twice her size, which then segues nicely into a love scene that was unexpected but well written and not out of place at all. This scene was a really fantastic attention grabber for me, because not only do I enjoy the occasional well written sex scene, but I really enjoy a female lead who is believable in her actions and motivations, and I thought that this was a good example of that. Çeda is the type that (usually) does what she wants and apologizes for it later. I can relate to her in this way, and so it was very easy for me to root for her and hope she succeeded in her endeavors.

The world of this book, the desert, the slums, and the overall city of Sharakhai was so rich and well built that I could imagine it really well, and that is always awesome. There’s so much intrigue in this world. The story is full of mysteries to be solved and that is entirely well executed, between flashbacks and present day, Çeda uses a book that her mother left her and some help from her friends to unravel the truth of her past and the truth about the Kings. Her journey takes her right into the heart of her worst enemies, and Çeda, being the resourceful gutter wren that she is, thwarts their efforts to ruin her day (also, kill her).

Parts of the book made me legitimately emotional, as I wondered what would happen to Çeda or to Emre, or to both of them. I really, really liked Emre as a character as well, and I wanted the whole world for him. The relationship between them felt like best friends at times and so much more at other times, and the way it was written really had me hoping for the happiest of endings for both of them, whether together or not, best friends or more. It’s things like these that keep me reading books into the wee hours. Listening to, in this case, but it was still one of *those* books. The ones that make dust just get in my eyes because it can’t possibly be emotions because I don’t get misty about books (except that I do. I totally do).

The narrator, Sarah Coomes, did a fantastic job, and 25 hours felt like it just flew right by. I’m really, really picky about female narrators, as I’ve found out more recently with some experimentation, but this one really nailed this presentation. There are some accents here that I would think are legitimately difficult to pull off, but she managed, at least she totally managed in my eyes (or ears? lolololokay okay, I’ll stop :P) I will definitely listen to more of this series narrated by her!

This was a fantastic book, and I can’t wait to listen to some more of this trilogy!

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Amazing story / Narrator not for everyone

Any additional comments?

It's a great story in a fully realized world. The pacing slows down a bit in places, but I was OK with this. It starts strong, and I actually enjoy a lot of the world building and scene setting. I'm definitely looking forward to the next book.<br/><br/>The narrator was problematic. I found the performance to be overacted. Whenever the voice actor did an accent it was painful to listen to and didn't really make sense either.