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I couldn't finish this book and returned it. I'd like to focus on 2 main factors that I found very annoying. First, the characters, particularly the protagonist, all seem to be total idiots who are victims of elephant-sized plot holes. For example, the hero had been trained in every conceivable facet of life during his isolated upbringing in order to become a master manipulator, but somehow during that time no one gave him the birds and the bees talk or explained the literal definition of the word "friend." We are left with a protagonist who can dress up as a merchant from some far off land and expertly talk about current grain prices, but has zero concept of love, sex, etc. The effect on the story is maddening and totally unbelievable.
The second issue involves the prose and dialogue. Every page seems to have some lengthy, weird description about how gorgeous and ripped and strong and intelligent the hero is... over and over and over! The discussions the characters have with one another are also very one dimensional. They are basically caricatures of themselves, no matter what has taken place in the story. There is also a burdensome amount of exposition. The hero repeatedly stops to explain or think about everything he has done or plans to do, instead of letting his actions speak for themselves.
If you want a good fantasy book, try Blood Song Raven's Shadow or The Way of Kings.
179 of 205 people found this review helpful
The narrator is the best in the business; Nick Podehl's narration can strengthen and breathe life into an otherwise weak story, and this book is a great illustration of that part of his skill.
The main character Rezkin is pretty much a composite of Wesley from The Princess Bride mixed with a Chuck Norris joke. Rezkin knows everything, he's more powerful than twenty men combined, he sweats justice, his tears cure cancer/but he never cries. When the author wanted him to be socially naive (about women) he was. When the author wanted him to be a keenly discerning judge of human character and social situations, he was that instead. All the women in the story were charmless, dimwitted, sobbing helpless victims who needed Rezkin's protection and every single woman (and some of the men) immediately fell in love with him from their first glance. All the men in the story were similarly dimwitted weaklings who were jealous of him and bowed down to him if their job in the story wasn't to be killed by him.
In the beginning it was kind of funny - Nick Podehl's narration almost made it sound like at some point we'd get a wink and a laugh about this, but it never happens. At once point Our Hero had broken his leg and the narration went something like, "The river was far too dangerous and impossible to swim across - so Rezkin swam across it anyway with his broken leg trailing behind him" It goes like that a lot.
The story starts out interesting, gets ridiculous but is still enjoyable, gets even more absurdly overblown but is still enjoyable because of all the action, and then stalls out 2/3 through when we get to the house of the Uncle of one of the side characters. (Nick Podehl narrates the character of the Uncle as a pitch perfect Sean Connery!!! This kept me listening to it when I really, really wanted to fast forward the story line.) The characters stay there forever, nothing happens, descriptions abound of various characters drinking tea and feeling socially uncomfortable (except Rezkin, who is never uncomfortable) in the formal living room. Hours of this. It's like listening to music on hold.
Anyway, it finishes in line with a set-up for Book 2. I bought both at the same time and regretted buying the second while listening to the first, but I'll give Book 2 a go because Nick Podehl could make my shopping list interesting, and I hate skipping a book he's got so many good character voices in. I wish he had better characters to work with, but his performance is exceptional.
54 of 65 people found this review helpful
Very good narration, good story if a little slow during the middle. Tends to focus more on dialogue and has a little less action that I would have liked. Also names of guilds a little uninventive but nevertheless, would recommend!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I've read reviews for other stories, were the reviewer will complain that the protagonist is too string and perfect, but in this case it's the whole point of the story and is so blatant, it's brilliant.
Many books in this genre have a very similar story line; young man suffers tragedy, then goes to train with masters, comes back to kick some butt. This one has a refreshing angle; our guy is already kicking butt by hour number 3-ish.
The pace of the book is excellent there are no points where the story drifts into nothingness for a while, but keeps going on string with action around every corner. There is however only one story line, making the book easier to follow if you're the type to be listening to books while engaged doing this else.
I think if you're into books that world build for hours with incredibly well drawn out characters (a-la Joe Abercrombie), this isn't it; but it is well written and has (so far) an excellent story with an original twist.
It's seems to be getting more difficult to find good books in this genre; of course it's all personal preference, but similar-ish stories that I consider good recently are (hopefuly can help someone also looking);
Dawn of Wonder
Cycle of Arawn/Galande
7 of 9 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Free the Darkness again? Why?
Yes, I would and will a number of times. The story is so well written, and the character is built up in a way so that you know how and why he acts even in simple interactions is true to his character, not just a plot device like so many authors do.
Also the narrator is stunning in his execution of the characters individual voices and expressions of emotion
What was one of the most memorable moments of Free the Darkness?
All of it, I genuinely laughed a dozen times through out the book. Its not a comedy per say, but so well written that the way peoples concepts of each other are almost enjoyable confused and written so well it does not seem forced i any way and is a very fluid read. I finished it within 24 hours of buying it.
Which scene did you most enjoy?
I don't know to be honest. It had everything i enjoy in a books main characters. Bad people are not spared because the people who should act aren't cowards, people don't have convenient spontaneous genius assumptions then go back to being innocent and stupid - well over played in so many other books that I am thoroughly sick of it. And there's a refreshing lack of bravado in the main character when usually people in the story will let something slip to make them seem better than themselves through happenstance of the writers choice.
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
I don't know if a movie could do the book OR the narrator credit
Any additional comments?
Now my new Favorited book and narrator. Each character has a distinct accent, there were appropriate emotion and pauses in the sentences that you would expect in any conversation. Love it
9 of 10 people found this review helpful
This series definitely has potential but I nearly gave up on their journey to kaibane. So much swooning from the female characters and time spent describing the hero's perfectly chiseled body (e.g. "like a god carved in alabaster") just distracts from the actual story. Won't be continuing with the series as a result which is unfortunate as it's a good story.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful