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Kramer does a very good job reading this book considering that it's his first audiobook. I'm impressed, and would listen to him again. I can hear a touch of his dad (Michael Kramer) in his voice, though he has his own distinct sound. I was impressed with his narration.
This book is on the short side for the genre, so I'd expect every minute to count, as it is, it takes about 45 minutes for the story to become interesting. From there, the story engages me up until the point where they leave on their special mission from the queen, then I find myself losing focus.
The general idea of the novel works, but I feel like it needs to be both condensed and lengthened. There are a lot of very wordy passages that would benefit from more concise language, because it's at these points my focus starts to fade. The exposition is also heavy as supporting characters take it upon themselves to just explain things that are common knowledge in their world to the protagonist without him asking. I'd rather see him learning about everything for himself. After condensing the current story down to about 5-6 hours, It would then be better to lengthen the overall tale so that we have a better sense of something being accomplished at the end.
As it is, the story basically comes down to a guy who gets transported to another world, has to figure out what's going on, trusts too easily, gets arrested, and escapes a death sentence by accepting a dangerous quest for the monarch as punishment. He doesn't make it home, and we don't understand why he's in this other world (although there is some allusion to a prophecy of some sort).... He doesn't return to the Queen in completion of the quest.... So why does the book stop where it does? I don't know.
With that said, it's an okay first shot at publishing from a debut novelist. I feel confident that future works will be better with the attention of a more demanding editor. I think after the first 2-3 books are written, the author should consider giving them all a hard core edit to remove unnecessary text (and PoV shifts), and then re-releasing as an omnibus.
The story written by Steven McCullough, is filled with tried and true tropes, that always make me what to know more about the world the story is set in, yet Steven has managed to skirt the edge of becoming cliché, weaving an imaginative tale. A small disappointment is that it seemed a bit rushed in areas, but perhaps that is because I have grown accustomed to epic fantasies. His main character does seem to be a bit too trusting and accepting of people and his unusual situation, though I could very easily see that as an aspect of his character, that could help, and hinder him as the series continues. Which I very much hope it does! I'm eager to find out what happens next! A sign of great writing!
I have to admit that I was shocked to listen to the quality of Henry's narrative! Knowing that this was his first published title as a narrator, I wasn't expecting the smooth cadence, and wonderful timing in his performance! From the start he set a great pace, and his warm and rich tone lent to easy listening. I was impressed with the broad range of characters, and accents he gave in his performance. He really went for it, and made it look easy!
I will definitely be following the career of both Steven and Henry with avid interest!