It is adventure on the high seas when the lady Snowraven sets sail to reclaim the fabled banner of the doomed expedition, lost long ago. But, she is soon entangled in the war of ideology that is reshaping the very fabric of her world - between those creating machines of industry, fueled by ethanol, and those clinging to the old ways of "magic" holding steadfast to the glowing Nexil-Orbs and the elite classes that create them. The Snowraven guided by fate. For an ancient prophesy foretells the coming of a new age - heralded by a mighty queen to sit upon the throne of Nubodia - the wealthiest realm of them all. But one inflicted with a truly monstrous foe of both nature and man's creation. A vile creature that shows the most terrifying enemy - is the enemy within.
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Note: Even though this is Book 3 in the series, it works as a stand alone.
In this edition of Shaska (or is it spelled Saska?) the SnowRaven’s adventures, we have high seas, mud monsters, guns, wine, and magic. Plus a little nudity. Shaska is a woman who can fight under all circumstances, armed or not, in fair weather or poor, outnumbered, and unclothed. This volume holds just as much action as the previous books, but a touch more lot. Indeed, I do believe it is my favorite so far.
First, Shaska is still accompanied by her pet Lynx, the mutant fox serpent that can talk. She tries to leave him behind once or twice, to no avail. Her first adventure involves sailing with crew into unknown peril to retrieve the flag of a long lost something or other. Supposedly, many have tried to reclaim this banner and failed. And Shaska doesn’t lose a few sailors in the reclaiming of the banner, but then she gives the remaining crew a burlesque-like show using the flag afterwards. This scene in particular made me think of a short story written by Robert E. Howard in which the pirate queen gives Conan a similar dance.
But once she makes it back to land, there are more adventures, more plots and schemes, and more bad guys. If you have read the first 2 books, then you will know that there is a touch of machinery and modern weapons. Here, in this volume we see more of that and it is well done. Even Shaska, a traditional warrior Shepherdess from the high snowy mountains, finds it hard to argue with the advances that come with engineering.
Once again, the Scout Tommy Calvor (spelling?) makes an appearnce. He’s been in the series since Book 1 and I really should give him credit. He provides comic relief and sometimes the common sense. By now, he has rescued Saska a few times, even if sometimes it was just by happenstance.
As with all the books so far there is nudity using such terms as buxom or rock-hard thighs or lithe figure. Shaska ends up naked more than once and yet still defeats her foes. We had one mud monster last book – and we have another in this installment. I don’t mind the nudity because Shaska doesn’t – in herself or in others. Plus, these books are written in such a way as to be just a smidge over the top, like an epic warrior poem where all the deeds, all the foes, all the curses by the gods are a bit exaggerated. And I like it. A lot!
Narration: You might have noticed that the first 2 books had a different narrator (Matt Franklin) than this book (Adrienne Ellis). With the first 2 books, I was positive the narrator was saying ‘Shaska’ but with this book the narrator is obviously saying ‘Saska’. I had to dig through the SnowRaven Chronicles FB page, but the spelling is Saska. So thanks to Adrienne Ellis for saying it clearly and setting me on the right path.
Unfortunately, I really enjoyed Matt Franklin’s performances more. He had more of a stage voice making it feel like an epic poem read out loud to a crowd over a campfire. Adrienne Ellis had a decent voice for Saska and for the plot narration. However, most of her side character voices all sounded very similar and for some reason they sounded like slightly screechy old grandmothers. I noticed this for high nobles (male) and women and sometimes Lynx. When we did have an old woman, the voice worked. All together, she didn’t have the variety of character voices I was hoping for.
The Snow Raven Chronicles: Wine and Wizards the third novella in the SnowRaven Chronicles series by AJ Spencer is a swashbuckling action novella and thus it was a short listen. This novella was good for what it was. It was a short exciting rush, without much depth. The main character, Lady SnowRaven, is a young, female ship captain, who rushes into quests. After one such quests, she gets wrapped up in saving a town that is balancing prosperity with evil. Determined to fight the evil, she is caught up in a mystical fight that might be fulfilling her destiny to be queen. The plot-line is exciting, but the characters are single minded and flat and there is little development. However, I think as an action novella, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And after I changed my expectation for what the novella was, I thought it was reasonably exciting. There was a lot of action, with the main character moving from one major life-threatening dilemma to the next very quickly. The main fight of the novella was set in the town where she is engaged to the ruler and she sets off to rid the town of the evil situation that is actually benefiting it, but with a large sacrifice.
I thought the narration by Adrienne Ellis was initially flawed. At the beginning, I couldn’t get into the novella at all because I was first trying to figure out what was happening because the speed of narration was very fast. And then stylistically, I thought that the novella might be poems rather than prose because of the way the sentences were read. After I got used to it, I was better able to follow along. Overall, while this novella was not my cup of tea, I would recommend it to someone who is looking for a short exciting action adventure.
Audiobook provided for review by the author.
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