The Initiate Brother

  • by Sean Russell
  • Narrated by Elijah Alexander
  • 16 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Plague and warfare have swept across the Orient, ravaging the ancient kingdom of Wa, devastating the royal line, and leaving a new dynasty on the throne—a new emperor, Akantsu, filled with fear of all who might seek to wrest the empire from his grasp. Among those out of favor with the new liege is the Order of the Botahist Monks, whose mystical powers have enabled them to hold positions as spiritual advisors to the imperial court for nearly ten centuries. But Emperor Akantsu fears none so greatly as he does Lord Shonto, the brilliant leader of the most important of the old families, whose influence could rally the great houses against the throne and whose adopted daughter, the beautiful and talented Lady Nishima, is the last surviving member of the old royal family.
Sent to be military governor of a northern border province long threatened by barbarian invaders, Lord Shonto knows he is being lured to his death. But Akantsu has underestimated his foe, for not only is Lord Shonto the greatest military genius of the age but he has with him a spiritual advisor from the Botahist order—a young man gifted with extraordinary martial arts skills and magical abilities, Initiate Brother Shuyun. And even Lord Shonto does not realize the true potential of this young monk. Only time will reveal that Shuyun’s magical powers have not seen their equal in nearly a thousand years—not since the Perfect Master himself walked the paths of the empire.

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What the Critics Say

“Fantasy at its best.” (Quantum)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Better than Lord of the Rings?

This book and the sequel, Gatherer of Clouds, form one of the best fantasy epics of all time. In fact, for my money, these two books are better than the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Initiate Brother Shuyun is one of the great characters to ever live. Yes I said "live" because Sean Russell makes Shuyun and the other characters live. The Empire of Wa is so real that you cannot help but inhabit that world long after you read the book. The poetry is exquisite, the language is beautiful, and the religious tension is perfect.

The narration is quite good. I have read these books in paperback 3 times (this is my first listen and my fourth "reading") and the narrator certainly enhanced the experience. In the future I will prefer to listen rather than to get out the paperback copies. I especially love the voice of Brother Shuyun. The narrator exudes "tranquility of purpose."

Buy this book and you will never regret it!

I cannot wait to have some more of Sean Russell's books recorded for audio! Such as the fabulous "Moontide and Magic Rise" and "River into Darkness" sagas. Come on audible, make it happen...

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- David "True multitasking is "reading" a book while walking, running, kayaking, doing chores, gardening, driving or just drifting off to sleep."

Good book; interesting characters, plot, and arc

I enjoyed this book and its sequel. Russel could have easily split this book into two or three--but instead creates a great semi-epic work. This is good writing, with an interesting plot that keeps you reading. However, if you are looking for a non-stop action ride this isn't your book.

It has the setting and plot for a 'coming of age' epic adventure, but Russell clearly didn't want to write that kind of book. The main character has the mysterious strength/ability/power and the setting is a multi-layered epic struggle of the characters' personal beliefs, set under the larger struggle between political families/entities, set under the larger epic struggle between nations/peoples, again set under the still larger struggle of ideologies/religions. While at first the setting leads you expect a coming of age story of a mystical warrior--the coming of age is really about the spiritual identity of the character and the nature of his reality--not his physical abilities (although that is developed in the book, too).

There is action in this series (wars, assassinations, fights, kick-boxing tournament, etc.), but they are almost downplayed at times. For instance, the central character competes in a kickboxing tournament, fighting something like a half-dozen matches, but Russell skims over almost all physical the action as if it is entirely irrelevant until the last match.

While I do enjoy a true action packed epic--this was a well written and enjoyable book. As was its sequel.

Narrator:
The narrator is fine. However, he's one of those narrators which would do best by simply reading the book and not trying to push his voice into a variety of characters. His effort to do so is a little comical at times--two of the minor characters' voices are just silly. One is a bad Yoda impression and the other is straight out of good fellas (odd in this feudal Asian society). Luckily these characters have minor roles, so it doesn't get annoying.
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- JPaladin

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-25-2011
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.