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First impression makes the whole idea seem like it would be some sort of ironic comedy. Santa fights dragons in this book...with an axe. It is hard to imagine that this is the first scenario anyone really thinks of when someone says "Christmas Spirit", but, hey, sometimes an audiobook comes along that has you wanting to listen to it more out of burning curiosity than high expectations, right?
Anyway, this story is just as over the top as it sounds with a narrator, Adam McLaughlin, that performs in a severely more dramatic fashion than is probably necessary. Santa Claus, a mysterious half elf, is part of a prophecy that will finally liberate the elves of their strangely cursed state of being bound to earth. The "epic" quest is actually pretty stereotypical and drags up every fantasy adventure trope we have seen before; Orphaned young man discovers he has a destiny, then picks up a weapon to go rescue his girlfriend and conveniently save the world from an ill defined evil power. Elves, orcs, goblins, trolls, dwarves, dragon, swords and sorcery are all there. This setting mixed with everyone's favorite magical red suited toy maker seems like entertainingly humorous baloney.
Yet, this book that seemed like it would be bursting with laughs and personality is really dry and forgettable.
Yes, it sounds funny when a person keeps focused on the fact good ol' Santa Claus is the main character of a story that is clearly not about handing out gifts. Unfortunately, this version of Santa is written in a very plain manner. He doesn't really develop much or show any personality flare that you would expect from a guy known for his laugh. In fact Santa, dispite being the example of a great person, is so blandly written in that his character actually vanishes from the book for an hour or so...and this book is only five hours fourth two minutes long.
It's ironic that the end of this book has the author honor J.R.R Tolkien's influence on modern fantasy, because this book has "I want to be like Lord of the Rings" practically written all over it. This audiobook seems to take itself so seriously that some people cannot help becoming snared by the potential ridiculousness of the whole experience. Once the interest of a listener is captured however, it doesn't seem to work well to hold attention or say anything that will make it worth remembering. A masterpiece wasn't expected, but not only is not funny, ironically or not, "Santa Claus: The King of the Elves" totally missed out on anything that could have made it stand out other than it's main characters' name.
The end result is a very average fantasy adventure. Linked to one of Christmas' favorite icons or no, this book can only be recommended to die-hard "swords and sorcery" fans. Listeners looking for Christmas cheer here will probably find that it doesn't really hit the mark like Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" or watching "It's a Wonderful Life". Still, don't let this audiobook's short comings stop you from having a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.
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