Winds of Fate is the first book in the Mage Winds Trilogy. High Magic has been lost to Valdemar centuries ago when the last Herald-Mage gave his life to save the kingdom from destruction by dark sorceries. Yet now the realm is at risk again. And Elspeth, Herald and heir to the throne, must take up the challenge, abandoning her home to find a mentor who can awaken her untrained mage abilities. But others, too, are being caught up in a war against sorcerous evil. The Tayledras scout Darkwind is the first to stumble across the menace creeping forth from the "Uncleansed Lands." And as sorcery begins to take its toll, Darkwind may be forced to call upon powers he has sworn never to use again if he and his people are to survive an enemy able to wreak greater devastation with spells of destruction than with swords....
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Very disappointing; could have been so much better
I have been hoping for an audiobook version of this series for years. Now that one has been released, I'm so disappointed.
Karen White has a lot of books listed at Audible, but many aren't well-known, at least not to me. She narrated _The Hemingses of Monticello_, but those reviews reflect comments about the same sort of disappointing performance that I've been listening to.
Ms White has a very nice basic voice - the one she uses for the background, the narrative parts. She uses inflections, pauses, emphasis, all good. She got most of the character and place names right, including some very odd made-up-language words and phrases full of glottal stops. What she doesn't show in _Winds of Fate_ is a good repertoire of voices for different characters. Instead she chose to use differing accents for the characters, and she not only made some odd choices but wasn't able to do the accents consistently for each character.
So, starting from the beginning of the book, Kerowyn, a very strong, active, decisive woman, who has a background as a successful mercenary soldier, got an unsure, sort-of Irish accent that doesn't reflect her character. Skif, a young man who spent most of his early life as a thief and scrounger, but who has become a reliable, effective member of an elite group, has a sort-of lower-class British accent but sounds rather like a hick. Elspeth, the young female heir to the throne of Valdemar, has a sort-of snobbish upper-class British accent, and is probably the closest in reflecting the character, but it isn't used consistently. Darkwind, who is a young but mature and powerful mage, woodsman and fighter, started out with a somewhat thin, wavery voice; it got stronger over the course of the book (18.5hrs), but he never sounded decisive or strong. The voice Ms White used for the character of Need, an extremely powerful female spirit lodged in a sword who communicates via mind-speech (telepathy), often changed accent within a sentence or two, with a British-sounding beginning to the vowels and an accent from anywhere-USA at the end.
What's annoying is that the voices are partly right. Kerowyn is from a different country than Skif and Elspeth, and Darkwind is from yet a third country. So a different speech pattern or rhythm for each of them wouldn't be a bad choice. Skif was a street kid, so a lower-class voice was somewhat appropriate; Elspeth is from the noble class and should speak more elegantly than Skif, though they were both brought up in the same city of the same country and so should have some similarities in their speech, but didn't. But the accents weren't done consistently nor were they done very well.
It's especially disappointing because fans of Mercedes Lackey and this series of books have been waiting for years and years for these audiobooks. Of course we have some expectations built in from all the re-reads of the print books, the voices we've heard in our minds. But if the voices Ms White had chosen had been done a bit better, more consistently, perhaps with more practice, this would have been a much better audiobook. Another few months' delay would have been worth it to get it done with more polish.
I was all set to buy the other 2 books in this _Mage Winds_ trilogy as soon as they came out, but I'm not going to do that. Sadly, the comments about the next trilogy, called the _Mage Storms_, though narrated by a different person, have similar sorts of comments about a poor listening experience, and some of those shortcomings are evident in the samples. So I'm not buying those books either. I can't even give this book a 3-star rating, because I didn't like it. It's just barely OK, a 2-star deal. And that's with a book that's been a nearly 5-star read for years and years.