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The Garden of Stones

Echoes of Empire, Book 1
Narrated by: Nick Podehl
Length: 16 hrs and 47 mins
4 out of 5 stars (105 ratings)
Regular price: $10.49
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Publisher's Summary

A New Epic Begins

Fueled by visions promising him prolonged life and political power, the dying Corajidin, leader of a millennia-old dynasty, has brought the nation of Shrian to civil war. But is his bright destiny assured, or do the events unfolding around him promise a more ignoble, and finite, future?

Indris, warrior-mage of the Seq Scholars and scion of a rival Great House, is caught in the upheaval. Driven by loyalty and conscience to return to a city that haunts his past, Indris reluctantly accepts the task of finding a missing man, the only one able to steer the teetering nation toward peace.

The celebrated warrior-poet, Mari, touches both men's lives: one as daughter, one as lover. As her world unravels around her, can she be true to both her duty to blood, and her own desires for freedom and happiness?

©2013 Mark T. Barnes (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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

Realistic, Engaging Dialogue - Where Are You?

I KNOW I'm going to take heat for this one. So, like a flu shot, let's get the darn thing over with, for God's sake.

Let's review, shall we? A writer with skills? Seems so. His storyline? The same. Just go read the Audible short on the work. Yet, there's an issue here. If you read or, in this case, listen, to a good number of books, you'll understand where I'm headed.

If you're a great writer, or even a GOOD one, you constantly strive for a few things in your writing. Suspension of disbelief is one. A moving and deep storyline is another. Rich characterization is important, as well.

But.

Without REALISTIC, ENGAGING DIALOGUE between the characters, all of the potential of the work will fall short. We've all started to read or listen to such novels, and as soon as the characters open their mouths, it's over. The message suffers. The momentum is lost.

The book is closed, the audiobook returned.

And in this case, it's a shame. The problem happens here - In droves. I thought of including specific text, but it's not necessary. Is the audiobook bad? No. But the work suffers, due to the dialogue. It's a soap-operatic. Over the top. in some cases, WAY over the top.

A word to Mr. Barnes: "Do NOT get rushed by your editor to put your next effort out so quickly, that the character's dialogue suffers, as in this work. Take your time, and write great dialogue. I look forward to your next work with keen anticipation."

Audible listeners, I don't write these reviews to cater to anyone, especially myself. I have to be true to the job at hand, to let the audiobook stand on its own merits. Or fall.

Sorry, Mr. Barnes. Maybe next time.

22 of 27 people found this review helpful

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

Interesting story

I found the story very interesting, but I did not like the performer. I think I would have enjoyed the book more in print.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Confusing, but entertaining

The first time I started listening to this book, I gave up after two hours. There were so many odd-sounding names that I just couldn't figure out who was who, or what was going on. I imagine it would be a lot easier to keep track of everything when you've got a print copy of the book in hand, but listening to it... I'd hear a random jumble of syllables and not know if they were referring to a man, a woman, a city, a species, or maybe a political or military title. I have to give props to Nick Podehl for handling so many odd names without missing a beat as he read!

I decided to give the book another try this month, and after half an hour of listening I realized that I still had no clue of who was who or what was going on... but I was starting to figure it out. So, I restarted the book from the beginning one more time, and hey! it actually made sense. Characters started to emerge, as well as personalities and motivations. There were good guys and bad guys and bad guys who thought they were good guys, and people stuck in the middle just trying to get by. There were lots of references to ancient something-or-others that I never did get a good handle on, but since the characters in the book didn't fully understand them, either, I guess that's okay. I have the other two books in the series sitting in my library, and I'm thinking that I'd better listen to them right away.... before I forget which jumble of syllables goes with which person or species or city or political or military title again!

My advice for this one: You MUST pay attention closely for the first hour. You can't be multitasking while you listen, or you will have NO idea of what's going on! Once you've been introduced to everyone, things flow more easily and make sense. But first, you have to connect all of those names to the people, places, or things they represent!

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

Too confusingly written

The story starts with a blur of characters being introduced at once. Slowly the story becomes possible to follow.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Don’t miss this work of art!

The scope of the world that Barnes is creating maybe confusing in the beginning but the world evolves into something special. I recommend you pull up the reference chart on Mr. Barnes website with the list of characters. It helps you quickly see how the political intrigue comes together through the various houses.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of my favorite all time series!

I am a huge fan of this series, and have listened to it multiple times. Epic fantasy, a deeply complex world with a huge back story, engaging characters, dastardly villains, powerful magic, steampunk elements, multiple interesting races, and deep politics that really draw the reader in! What more can a reader ask for? You will find yourself rooting for the heroes, hissing at the villains, and overall, enjoying the well crafted fight scenes, and finding yourself anxious to see what happens next. Nick Podehl's narration is spot on, really bringing the story to life. In fact, I think this series may be his finest work at narrating. Any fan of Brandon Sanderson, Terry Brooks or Anthony Ryan should definitely run out and get a copy of this book. I cannot recommend this series highly enough!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Words and names very similar

the names and some words were too closely related making it difficult to follow story at first but I got used to it after some time

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

bland

Any additional comments?

Nick Podehl is a wonderful narrator but the story was just too boring. Perhaps I'll try listening to it again later but if the story doesn't at least mildly interest me after two hours of listening I call it a lemon.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Just something I like

The world that this story is set is extremely well thought out. Usually i will not like a fantasy book if it does not have a creative and complex world and history, no matter how good the story is. This means I am usually reading Steven Erickson's or Bakker's books. I am going to have to say that the world that Barnes has created is on par with the Malazan world.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Brendan
  • 06-05-18

wow, a confusing mess of character and place names

I swear the author used a random name generator for this book. This with minimal character development whilst excessive numbers of characters make this a difficult book to appreciate