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Publisher's Summary

After the Great War that divided the peoples, the kingdoms of men plunged into a Dark Age that lasted 500 years. To heal the lands and restore the light, the great kings decreed that magic and all that is magical, be it creature, man, or device, shall be cleansed to dust. The cleansing raged for so long that no human could recall a time without it and it is in this time that the Dark Lord Sathar returned from the dark beyond. The one hope of the peoples of Ruin Mist was Queen Mother, the elf queen of old. She saw a way out of everlasting darkness, a path that required the union of the divided peoples. And so it began.
Listen to more books in The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches series.
©2002 Robert Stanek; (P)2005 Reagent Press

Critic Reviews

"[A] complex tale...sure to attract fans of graphic novels and classic Tolkien alike....Stanek will likely draw a cult following....This cliffhanger guarantees fans, and those fans will be ready to wield their swords against the Dark Lord in Stanek's next installment." (Voice of Youth Advocates)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

No Wonder it Was a Top BookSense 76 Pick!

Writers like JK Rowling may get all the ink in the press but there are very few writers of Stanek's caliber. The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches is a wholly engaging story, filled with delightful characters. This book gets everything going and sets up the story beautifully for the sequel The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches II.

300 of 334 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Kingdoms and the Elves - book one

This is the start of something special! I've always loved epic fantasy especially when the story is well done. The author not only paints a visual picture, he transports you into another world where the characters are cut from whole cloth and the world is deeply imagined.

There are good books and then there are great books. The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches is definitely a great book. As others have said though this is only the beginning. I would highly suggest getting both the first and the second books before listening. That way you can keep going when the first book ends, and you'll definitely want to.

The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches is four books in all. I can only hope books three and four come to Audible soon. What I'm surprised no one has said in reviews is about how each book gets better. Having read all four first, I can tell you without doubt books three and four are incredible. To understand what happens in the later books you really do need to start at the beginning though (book one).

Over all these books are outstanding. Well worth the price and time. The narrative is very good. I can't wait for the next one.

209 of 233 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent -- one of the best!

I don't usually like fantasy so I was a bit skeptical about this book. My teens wanted it so much I gave in. Apparently they've read all the author's books in paperback and wanted to see how the story would be to listen to.

I agree with the previous reviewers of this book about this being only the beginning of a much larger story. I think someone else said Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was very much the same. Make no mistake, like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and The Fellowship of the Ring, this is very much an introduction to the fantasy world of the authors imagining.

What I liked about it, and I don't normally like fantasy, is the believability of the storylines and how well drawn the characters are. Each character has a background, a history, wants, needs, desires. If you have no feeling in you whatsoever I guess I could see how you wouldn't like this book. Adrina pull's on your heart strings because she is in so much pain over the loss of her mother. Vilmos experiences much adolescent angst. Poor Seth and Galan get the worst luck of all.

I think this book owns all five stars easily. It's well written with a great story and a good reader who does a good job of telling it.

182 of 203 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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  • Elizabeth
  • Corvallis, OR, United States
  • 11-23-13

NOT good.

Where in the world are all those good reviews coming from??? They could not POSSIBLY be from THIS book, unless there's something fishy going on with the ratings. I tried to listen to this with my two daughters, ages 8 and 11, and gave it 1/2 hour. It was NOT good.

The narrator was a problem. It began with him doing a female voice and made her sound like a child-like female Gollum. There was no transition between the different scenes. It would be a couple minutes into the next scene before I realized it had changed locale and character. Literally, NO transition. Not even a pause. My 8 year old says she couldn't understand any thing. His voice would go from soft when speaking in character to really loud when reading the text. So we had the volume up really loud. Uncomfortable to listen to. He seemed to drone.

The actual story and writing were also a problem. I could not understand the setting; it just made no sense to me. There was no lead in, just slam into full detail, character names, contextual references, etc. of this alternative world trying to figure out where the heck this story was starting from. The dialog was imbecilic.

My kids enjoyed The Hobbit and the older one listened to the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, last year, no problem. We all enjoyed Ranger's Apprentice. Maybe this book isn't supposed to be Young Adult?? Even as an adult, though, I was lost. (For taste and comprehension comparison: I've enjoyed the George R.R. Martin series. )

We've been listening to about 3 books a month for over a year, with only perhaps three of those books being ones that we decided not to listen through. Sorry I wasted my money on this one.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Carlton
  • Indianapolis, IN, USA
  • 11-29-05

Slow to start, abrupt

From the very beginning, the narrator's "middle earth" quasi-English accent got on my nerves, but I listened on hoping for the writing would compensate. The book jumps between three different stories, but none of them are engaging and all of them start off very slowly. Finally, some action and progress occurs later in the book, enough that I can at least justify listening to the rest. But just as each of the three adventures shows that they could start to reach some type of conclusion, the book ends in cliff-hanger, soap opera fashion. There is no finality or even mid-stop conclusion to any of the stories. It simply says "buy book 2". Are you kidding? I thought I purchased an unabridged book in a series, not half of a book with no ending. Seeing that this first book can't stand alone, the existence of "book 2" seems to be a rip-off. At least the abrupt ending gave me a reason to start listening to something -- please, anything -- else.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Debbie
  • Iowa City, IA, USA
  • 10-12-05

dull, difficult to follow, monotonous reader

I wish Duane's review had been up when I downloaded this, I wouldn't have wasted my time. I kept checking back on the website to make sure I hadn't accidentally gotten an abridged version because there seemed to be too much missing. I especially found the "transitions" (or lack thereof) to be disorienting since there wasn't even a pause on the part of the reader to indicate the perspective was switching. In fact, I can't believe anyone praised this reader, I found his narrative to be monotonous and annoying. The characters were uninteresting, and if there was a plot to this I totally missed it. Luckily it was short; it was relief when it was over. I have no interest in finding out what happens next.

I still think somehow I got the wrong book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Michael
  • Aichi Japan, N/A, Japan
  • 09-14-05

I hate to be negative but...

I just listened to the LOTR read by Rob Inglis, which I must say was fantastic and extremely well acted (if you can say that for an audio book). I also really enjoyed Eragorn from audible and the Harry Potter books all of which were well read. This book however was almost impossible to follow. This was 90% due the speed of the reading and the poor fake accent. I got the impression like the narrator had some sort of time deadline to fulfill and frantically read in an extremely poor English Accent? I live in Japan and I know many British people none of which sound even remotely like this author. His style was nearly as painful as watching Keanu Reaves in a love scene, just poor.

If there were a way to preview this book like taking a peak into an Amazon book you would see what I mean. If you can believe it I had to put the book on the slow setting on my iPod to bring the author down to a normal digestible pace. Unfortunately the painfully superfluous mystical accent still came through. In the defense of the book I could have understood it better if I was not engaged in other activities like jogging.

Want to hear a fantastic book with a fantastic reader? Listen to Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke read by Brendan Fraser. Possibly the best Narrated book ever. I have listened to well over 300 books since the iPod came out and this was hands down the best Narration. So don't waste your credits on this book buy Dragon Rider or buy the soft cover and use your own cheesy accent!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Byron
  • West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 07-05-07

Pompous drone

The reader of this book is like nails screeching on the blackboard for me! I have tried to get through it four times, and he is just torturously painful to listen to. I really wanted to get into this one(the story really piqued my interest), but the annoying narration has killed it for me each time.

Please listen to a sample and imagine the whole book droning on in the same way for hours, before purchasing.

I love to listen to audiobooks, and have listened to many of audible's offerings over the past few years. I have loved each and every experience and have naught a bad word to say about every other book I have purchased.

Story seems great, but proceed with caution. I warned you!

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I read and listen to a lot of fantasy and scifi. This was one story I listened to the end of, just to get there. The story is disjointed and the dialogue poorly written. At one point, my wife and I were listening just to laugh at the parts that were supposed to be serious. I can not recommend this to anyone, and will not be puchasing any other parts of this book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I bought the series because of the good rating but the slow, mediocre storyline is dominated by the simply awful narration. LISTEN TO A SAMPLE FIRST!
The narrator is Danish I presume and it took me quite a while to be able to even understand him. After that it was merely torture listening to him narrate as is reading a poem and strangling the story with incorrect pronunciation and bizarre cadence.
The other books get better i am told, but I am not sure that I could stand to listen to the narrator again.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Tim
  • 06-15-05

Read it

When a book wins as many awards and accolades as these books have, you know they're pretty good, and they are. The writing throughout the series is a sheer delight. The reading is superb as well, with spot on voicing of the characters and the narrative.

Having read all the novels previously with my sons I can honestly say The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches is one of the best things going. Each book in the series is better than the one before. My favourite of all is this one. The sweeping scenes and rich prose make this more than a good book; it is an excellent book.

The series is four books. The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches #1, #2, #3, and #4. Don't start if you don't plan on listening to them all, because you won't be able to stop. If you start, you have Edward Tallyback, Erravane Queen of the Wolmerrelle, King's Mate, kingdom trios, the elf queen, king cats, eagle lords, a dragon king, and more to look forward to.

With all the dastardly villains and endearing characters, Mr. Potter could find himself with some serious competition. Certainly one of the most richly imagined novels I'm come across in all my years of reading.

Full praise to Robert Stanek.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ben
  • 06-15-05

My favourite!

Starts simple, but keep going because it picks up in the second one. A must read series.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Nigel
  • 05-18-09

Is this the readers first book?

After reading some of the other reviews I was looking forward to hearing this, however I did not get past the first 20 minutes. The reader spoilt the whole experience, either he was being paid a fixed fee, so was doing the job as quickly as possible or it was his first reading role. The experience is that he reads too fast without conveying anything of the text or showing any feeling of the book. He also speaks in a breathless way which is very disconcerting and he his either trying to do a British type accent or a posh American which you spend all your time trying to analyse without listening to the content. Overall a very poor attempt and I have obviously been spoilt before with this being the first time I have had such a bad experience. I cant really comment on the content or quality of the writing as the reader takes your whole attention.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jamie
  • 07-09-05

You have to read it

This is one of my favourites - I read it a few years ago and loved it then. It is the start of one of the most engaging series I have had the good fortune to read. A must read for all, as it will have something for everyone that reads it, drama, action and a brilliant plot. My sister who had never touched a Fantasy book before got hooked on it when I gave it to her on Holiday. She's read all four now. To get the whole experience you have to read at least books one and two.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Alex
  • 07-22-14

Very disappointing

Did the narrator do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

I found the narrator irritating: something about the inflection seemed to be very repetitive.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

This is perhaps the most disappointing audiobook of the nearly 100 I have listened to. I found the characters so uninteresting, and the story so slow that I kept drifting off, and thinking about other things such that I was not really following the story

Any additional comments?

Despite being a fan of the fantasy genre, I cannot recommend this audiobook, unless it is to help you go to sleep

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • P. D. Smith
  • 08-28-07

Gave up listening to it...

OK, maybe this picks up after a while, but I listened to the first hour and then gave up, it was just too much effort.

Given the other good reviews, maybe I should read the book rather than listen to it. The other reviews seem to be talking about 'reading' the book, rather than listening to it. It just seemed too complicated a book to listen to, so I couldn't grasp what was going on. I didn't find the narrator that easy to listen to either.

I may see if I can find a copy of the book (paper version) in a library to read to see if that's OK, as it seems to be easier to understand books with lots of detail in their plots when you can go back and look at things again and so on.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • J Aldridge
  • 04-23-17

Not an enjoyable listen

I have listened to about two thirds of this book but have decided to give up. The narrator ruined it for me. I couldn't distinguish between the characters because the voice sounded so similar so had to concentrate on the name of who was meant to be speaking. Also the narrator made it all sound so bland