*This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review at my request.
Craig Beck is a new narrator for me. But, I must say, from the first word I enjoyed his mild accent. Yum. I'm taken by his voices for different characters. When he voiced the robber, I could see and hear the different person and personality. Oh I really enjoyed listening to Craig voice the story. He reads with feeling in the moment along with personality with each character. There was only one little oops I picked up on. In Chapter 3, there is a repeat of about 11 words. But seriously, if that's the only bad out of the eleven plus hours, I'll take it!
Michael's writing caught my attention in the prologue. I could see what was happening by the descriptions and cadence of the words. To see Fadarah call forth his secret weapon, The Nightmare. Then to see how the Shel'ai form around it, even the soldiers drawing away from him, it all sets the stage of the war and battles to follow with this powerful force and Fadarah's magic.
We get a feel for the world as Rowen travels. The world has it's prejudice and strong feelings between the people. We get a description of the fantasy world that darkens as Rowen travels through it, seeing more and more of what's happening in the world that he doesn't see on the surface. But Michael's details feel bright when Craig voices it, giving the world a visual we could see and hope that there is light in the world worth saving.
The story has a few point of views as it's told. The repeating ones are: Rowen, Shade, Fadarah, Lethe, and Hrathbam. There are a few others through the story with the eyes in the moment we need to learn about. But it's easy to follow who's who because you know where they are in the world and what's happening. My only small struggle with this was I was listening to audio and not reading words, so when the narrative switched in a chapter it took me a few moments to realize we were on to another character. (It would be nice to have a small sound or something to let you know there is a change happening.)
This book brings together the people that need to be together for the terrible battle that's about to happen, setting the stage for all characters and circumstances. Some of the connections are magical. Like Rowen given the dinged up, rusty sword. But we learn there's more to what he sees. Interesting.
Silwren seems like a character who cares, wants to do what's right, she just needs to see that there are those in the world worth saving. Silwren sees this in Rowen in their time together. Do I feel this is as strong of a sense for Silwren? Mmm. Yes and no. I felt like there could be more of a connection between the two characters. They talk, yes. She answers Rowen's questions, yes. Rowen has stood for her life a few times, yes. The actions are all there, but it felt like the emotional connection needed was not as strong. This is a fantasy story and emotions aren't always as strong for me when I read/listen to fantasy.
I found my attention didn't stray from the story. I was listening to the story as it went, not letting it fade into the background until something caught my attention and drew me back in. This is a plus!
I enjoyed the story told here. There are neat ties between the people that we see in the end. This is a fantasy series I wouldn't mind following along to the end. There is going to be more battles to be fought as people fight for what they feel is right because of treatment. But, it seems that in the end the views of the people that are feared are being changed because of their actions to help, in one city at least.