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Rain Oxford is a new author for me - and I will definitely look for more books from her.
Book of Names starts in a seemingly classic way: brothers Nathan and Luca are trying to find a way to escape from a wizard's tower - or the wizard will kill them. What we don't know at first is that this is not a real wizard and not a real wizard's tower, it's just an escape room the brothers are testing for their friends. This is only the first surprise that awaits the reader/listener on the way throughout the book. The real story starts, though, when Nathan and Luca unexpectedly travel through a portal and find themselves in an alien world of Syndrial, where ancient Egyptian gods are a reality, where words do carry power, and where your name really defines who you are... Thrown in the middle of an on-going battle for power, forced to become an unwilling saviour of the new world, Nathan must learn fast to control what magic he has while trying to protect Luca, finding out the rules governing the culture of Syndrial and avoiding being killed himself - all this while preparing to fight and kill a mysterious spellcaster called Painter... quite a lot to do in a very short span of time, really:)
The world of Syndrial created by Rain Oxford is both complex and fascinating, with elements of ancient Egyptian culture and religion thrown into the picture. The book, a fast-paced magical adventure full of plot turning points, besides being a well-developed fantasy tale also touches on issues such as discrimination, child abuse, morality... And it does that in a subtle, unobtrusive way, leaving space for the reader/listener to think those issues over and absorb them... I like that a lot.
I also like the fact that although it is the first in a series, it doesn't end with a ciff-hanger but has a certain satisfying kind of closure. It doesn't force you to read on to find out what happened to the main characters - but encourages you to do that in a very clever way:)
As for the narration by Mr. J. Scott Bennett, it's very good. In his interpretation each of the characters is recognizable and their emotions are conveyed impeccably. Also, the pace of his reading is perfect for the listener not to lose focus.
DISCLAIMER: I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Book of Names was an entertaining read. Rain is always a beautiful writer, so the scenes are vivid and clear, you can really ‘see’ them in your mind. There are lots of exciting fantasy elements like magic, time travel, creatures and even Ancient Egyptian Mythology. The world building was well done and very interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing more of this world. I have to admit I am a huge fan of Egyptian Mythology (to the extent of doing course work at University), so it was fantastic to have it play a large role in this story. I also liked the idea of the two distinct types of magics and their different applications. The concept of the Book of Names was cool as well, I love magical books in stories (esp ones that fight back like in HP or Unseen University).
The beginning of the book is very fun, and you get to see the close bond between the brothers. Although the elements of the book are magic and fantasy, the core of the story for me was the love and loyalty between the brothers, Nathan and Luca. Whenever there is trouble each brother is always thinking of the other first, and are only focused on making sure the other is safe. I also loved the abilities that the boys have in the real world (doing escape rooms, writing, research, etc) are all played as strengths in the fantasy world. I enjoyed all the pop culture references between the brothers, they showed how families interact and have their family inside jokes. It also made the differences between life on Earth and life on Syndrial stand out, as the reader can relate to the boys’ life on Earth with all the familiar references in contrast to the stark antediluvian world of Syndrial.
The narrative is told mainly from Nathan’s POV, but there is some backstory that is given by another character later. Generally I’m not a big fan of switching back and forth between characters in a first person narrative, but this was well done and provided a really important understanding of another pivotal character.
The end of the story is darker and takes on a much more serious tone. I really wasn’t expecting how it played out, and had it running around my head trying to process it after I finished. This is one of the few times in my reading history where I honestly did not see the plot twists coming, so there were lots of surprises. The story did have a firm ending, but there is definitely a need for more books and hopefully soon!
Narration: J. Scott Bennet did his usual great job narrating. He has excellent pacing and tone, so the story moves along in a manner that keeps the action exciting yet still keeps the slower parts interesting. Scott has a great technique of injecting the emotion into the story, so you really hear what the characters are feeling. He is on my list of talented narrators.
I received Book of Names: Casters of Syndrial Book 1 free in exchange for an unbiased review.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Book of Names again? Why?
Yes. Probably as a refresher once the rest in the series are released.
What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?
Was a nice performance, although the narrator didn’t distinguish between a lot of the characters as well as some other narrators I’ve come across.
Any additional comments?
This is an unbiased review of a free review copy. I can’t wait for the rest of the series to come and was disappointed when I got to the end to realise there wasn’t yet a follow on.