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The Hob's Bargain  By  cover art

The Hob's Bargain

By: Patricia Briggs
Narrated by: Jennifer James Bradshaw
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Publisher's Summary

Beauty and The Beast

Hated and feared, magic was banished from the land. But now, freed from the spells of the wicked bloodmages, magic-both good and evil-returns. And Aren of Fallbrook feels her own power of sight strengthen and grow….

Overcome by visions of mayhem and murder, Aren vows to save her village from the ruthless raiders who have descended upon it-and killed her family. With the return of wildlings to the hills and forests, she strikes a bargain with the Hob, a magical, human-like creature imbued with the power of the mountains. But the Hob is the last of his kind. And he will exact a heavy price to defend the village-a price Aren herself must pay....

©2011 Patricia Briggs (P)2011 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"A clever mystery with appealing characters in a fantasy setting...topnotch reading fare.” (RT Book Reviews)

"[A] fun fantasy romance...There’s plenty of action, with battles against raiders and magical creatures, a bard who isn’t what he appears, and an evil mage - but there’s also plenty of humor, and some sweet moments of mischief and romance.” (Locus)

“Ms. Briggs blends adventure, romance, and innovative fantasy with a deft hand. Highly recommend this one to all my readers.” (S. L. Viehl, author of the Stardoc series)

What listeners say about The Hob's Bargain

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    2 out of 5 stars
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The physical book is better than the audiobook.

AUDIOBOOK PROBLEMS:
I do not recommend this as an audiobook. It should be read, not listened to for three reasons. The first problem is knowing if something is a vision or is happening. For example Aren is talking to a man, has a vision, and then continues talking to him. At first I thought the entire thing was conversation. Then I realized, no she was having a vision in the middle of the conversation. For most of her visions, I was confused. In the physical book the visions are in italic, but the italic is not communicated by the narrator.

The second problem is hard-to-follow-point-of-view-changes. I had trouble figuring out who was talking and some of the actions. Most of the book is first person narrated by Aren, but parts are third person. This is a fine style and it works well with another audiobook I’m listening to. But somehow in this book the transitions are not clear. For example Aren is narrating: I walk here, I do this. He is lonely. He sees them walking. (It switched to third person Hob’s point of view without telling me.) Maybe the physical book has paragraph separations or something. But several times I was confused about point of view.

My third problem was the narrator. She used a generic American accent for first person narration which was excellent. Then she used a fake-pretend-British-like accent for all dialogue which was bad. It was such a disconnect to be in Aren’s thoughts with the American accent but as soon as Aren speaks it’s the fake British accent. Second, I really hated this accent. I don’t know what it was. It wasn’t genuine. I like British accents, but this was disturbing. Here are examples. I’ve beane thayah befowah (I’ve been there before). He combed down (He calmed down). I knaow it’s hahpenning (I know it’s happening). It hut (It hurt). But I must repeat the narrator was excellent when speaking generic American. She has a wonderful voice, with good tone, pacing, and speed.

ABOUT THE STORY:
I liked the idea of Aren and Hob together, but that relationship was not developed. I didn’t feel any emotional connection between them. He seemed like a helpful and caring teacher. I would have liked seeing his loneliness, his pain, his desires, and how he felt when doing things with Aren. Throughout the book there is a lot of the narrator’s feelings, for example Aren saying I feel so tired, or I haven’t eaten since yesterday. But there are no feelings of anyone else, so I wasn’t drawn in to anyone else.

The author’s strength may be scene description. But her weakness is not enough action moving the plot or about the plot. There were multiple story lines, and they were not well developed. There was not enough information and interaction with the numerous raider groups. Some scenes felt contrived when Aren thought characters were dead but later learned they were not. When Hob came into the story it was a little better. But on balance it was boring, and I wanted it to be over.

The biggest problem is too much telling and not enough showing. The result is that it reads like a newspaper article. Newspaper articles summarize events. They can be satisfying and enjoyable, and maybe that’s why so many people like this. But it could be so much better. There was such potential. The author created wonderful creatures. And I liked the world and the plot set up, but the author just did not give me plot development and “showing.” An example of her “telling” is in the following excerpt.

“He hadn’t found any ghasts here, but I met most of the rest of the very weak and horrid. Poltergeists he said were both powerless and mindless, not worth the effort of approaching them. The weaker benevolent spirits like driads and nyads he’d shown me as well. The dryad had been soft spoken and solid seeming. He reminded me of the ancient oak he called home. The nyad had been shy, leaving as quickly as she’d responded. Caefawn hadn’t seen her, though he’d been sitting beside me the whole time. Some of the spirits we’d looked for like the willow wisps we couldn’t find. I could tell it made Caefawn sad, though he didn’t say anything. One or two of the creatures had attacked me. Sometimes their attacks were physical, like the noglan throwing sticks. More often they were mental. As I learned to defend myself the Hob would find a new stronger more contentious thing to call. Caefawn said that most of the stronger spirits like the earth guardian would know when I was about and come on their own if they chose. I could summon the lesser spirits whether they willed it or not. Some of them I could dominate if I chose, but it made me increasingly uncomfortable to do so. It felt wrong, even evil to do more than defend myself. Gram always said that if something felt wrong, it probably was. “So what’s it tonight?” I asked cheerfully. I was starting to feel brave in the night. Facing off with noglans and ghosts had made me less afraid of the darkness, silly me. Still it was easier than facing the villagers.”

Following are my questions about the above “telling.” We don’t see her meeting, saying hello, interacting with, or fighting sticks with any of these creatures. What did the dryad say to her that was soft spoken? Why did she see the nyad and Caefawn not? Where and how did they look for the willow wisps? She says one or two attacked her. How many was it? When a creature did a mental attack, what was it like? How did she feel and respond? She said she learned to defend herself. What exactly did she do to defend herself? How did she summon the lesser creatures? Build a fire? Chant? What did she do to dominate? Sit on them? Stare at them without blinking? She has interesting descriptions but she doesn’t show “actions.”

Ending: happy.
Genre: young adult fantasy.

40 people found this helpful

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Ban fake British accents!

What's with the horrible fake British accents?

As always, I listened to the sample of this book before buying it, and the narrator has a pleasant generic American voice. Unfortunately, she, or her producer, thought it would be a good thing to render conversations in "British" accents.

It's unlistenable, and spoilt what I remember as a good enough story. If anyone in the publishing world is reading this: no more cut-rate British accents!

9 people found this helpful

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Don't Bother with This One

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I can't imagine who would enjoy this book. I enjoyed many other books by Patricia Briggs but, found this story to be depressing and not well plotted. The first half of the book plodded along and the expressionless narration didn't help. By the time the story finally unfolds you are anxious for the end but, ony because you want to be done with this read.

What do you think your next listen will be?

I'm switching genres for a while since this one threw me off and am currently listening to

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The switch from expressionless narrator to bad English accent was really grating. The voice was so monotone I nearly fell asleep listening which is not good since I listen to most of my audiobooks in the car.

What character would you cut from The Hob's Bargain?

The characters were all well fleshed out and this could have been a great story that suffered from a poorly executed plot.

4 people found this helpful

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Loved it!!!

As good as the Mercy Thompson books. Wish there were more with these characters

4 people found this helpful

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Great book, just like the others.

This book was even better to listen to than it was to read (something that doesn't happen that often) I'd recommend this or any of her other series' to anyone.

3 people found this helpful

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So disappointing...

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Kids. Maybe, kids.

What could Patricia Briggs have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

This book just couldn't have been worse for me. I ADORE Patrica Briggs other series but this was just plain flat. Aren, the heroine, is this simpering sop of a protagonist...but, to predictably, she wins every struggle, out-thinks EVERY opponent, wins the day even though everyone is against her. I'm tired of all-powerful women being the be all and end all of all novels these days. Give me the pull and tug of the werewolf clan and the shapeshifter every time. The give and take there is wonderfully charming and believable. This "HOB" thing just didn't work at all. Was Briggs sick or distracted while writing this?

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Simpy voice. Little inflection.

What character would you cut from The Hob's Bargain?

All of them.

Any additional comments?

Please bring back the old Briggs and her spirited writings!

3 people found this helpful

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Good book for a cold day

What did you love best about The Hob's Bargain?

The overall story was good, the character were will rounded

Who was your favorite character and why?

kith, he is like the brother i always wanted

Have you listened to any of Jennifer James Bradshaw’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

yes, she is not the best performances i have heard, but it was good.

3 people found this helpful

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A nice love story, fairly light and yet compelling

What did you love best about The Hob's Bargain?

That it had enough drama to interest but somehow did not bury me in the character's angst. I like Patricia Briggs however she does have a tendency to get a little more macabre then I really want.This one somehow managed to be more of a love story.

Any additional comments?

It's a little preachy at times. A lot of fiction is and this one is preachy in the same way 90% of all modern fiction is. Sometimes it's like they're all following the same playbook.

2 people found this helpful

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Rich story line. a strong innovative plot

I've re-read this book several times and see something new each time. The characters are complex and interesting. The story line moves along at a strong pace. The magic is innovative while calling on deep traditions. Even the bad guys are complex

1 person found this helpful

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Fantastic

I love this book! And have read it several times. Patricia once said she had planned a trilogy. Please, please write it. While I really enjoy her Mercedes Thompson series I really enjoy her older books and would really enjoy reading more set in those universes

1 person found this helpful