Stormbringers by Philippa Gregory – Audiobook Review

Stormbringers: Order of Darkness by Philippa Gregory, narrated by Nicola Barber
Published in audio by Simon & Schuster Audio, published in print by Simon Pulse, both imprints of Simon & Schuster

I previously reviewed the first book in the Order of Darkness trilogy, Changeling.

Synopsis:

Luca and Isolde have a growing relationship and are happy that they will be able to continue traveling together for the foreseeable future. Their plans are halted, however, when a young man named Johann arrives in town leading a veritable army of children who claim to be on a crusade, sent by God. Johann has been prophesying, but when one of his prophecies comes true in an unexpected manner, Luca, Isolde, and the rest of their party find themselves in mortal danger.

Thoughts on the story:

In Stormbringers, Gregory does a great job telling a new complete story as well as forwarding the stories of Luca and Isolde, their relationship, and the lives as a whole. I am most intrigued to continue learning about this order Luca finds himself working for; I am fairly certain that I know where Gregory is going with this, and I think it has wonderful potential. If anything, I find myself looking forward to the third book in the trilogy even more than I looked forward to this one.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Initially I was disappointed that Charlie Cox was not selected to narrate Stormbringers after narrating the first book in the series, Changeling. I had fond memories of his narration and the switch from a male to a female narrator is kind of a big difference. However, with a third person point of view and a cast very nearly equally split between male and female characters, the gender of the narrator does not really matter here, and once I got used to Nicola Barber being the voice of Stormbringers I actually found her quite good. One thing Barber really excels at is bringing out the humor in the secondary characters, two of whom can be really quite funny. She is good overall, though, and by the end I was pleased by Cox’s replacement, even if I’m not sure why he was replaced.

Overall:

I am really loving this series, particularly in audio. I can’t wait until the next one comes out! Highly recommended.

For more, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: publisher.

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Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers – Book Review

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

This is the first book in the His Fair Assassins series.

The scars on Ismae’s body mark her as something different, something to be feared. Leftover from the failed abortifacient taken by her mother before her birth, the scars also mark Ismae as a daughter not of a human man, but instead sired by St. Mortain, otherwise known as Death. The fear induced by her heritage keeps her safe – barely – from her turnip farming father, but enrages the man she is sold to in marriage, a man who promises to see her killed. Luckily, there are many who are still loyal to the old gods of Brittany, gods who must now be called saints to avoid conflict with the Catholic church and these priests and herbwives smuggle Ismae to the convent of St. Mortain. In the convent, Ismae becomes a handmaiden of Death, trained in the art of killing those marked by St. Mortain, those enemies of Brittany.

Brittany has many enemies these days. The Duke is dead, and his daughter the Duchess Anne is only 12, although she is a wise and mature young woman. France is hungry to expand its borders and it seems that she must marry to ensure the safety of her country, but her most ardent suitor is a man not remotely suitable. Ismae, who grew up a peasant, finds herself sent to Anne’s court with a courtier and member of the Privy Council, Duval, to protect the Duchess and Brittany, and to ensure that Mortain’s will be done.

LaFevers has created in Grave Mercy a wonderful and engaging world that is particularly effective for being set against true historical events, such as Anne’s ascension to the Duchy of Brittany, and the ensuing Franco-Breton War. Whether Brittany the veneration of ancient pagan gods as saints continued in 15th century Brittany I do not know, but LaFevers certainly made it ring true, particularly when setting this veneration against the close relationship between Brittany’s enemy France and the Pope. In addition, Ismae is an incredibly captivating heroine, naive and damaged at the same time she is brave and strong. Her reactions and emotions are entirely consistent with her character as LaFevers develops it.

Perhaps best of all is the way that LaFevers ended this, the first book in the series. Although there is a question of what will happen in Anne and Ismae’s futures, the story that is being told is also completely wrapped up. I would be thrilled to read about Ismae’s continuing adventures, or in learning more about some of the other girls from the convent, and yet Grave Mercy completely satisfies in and of itself.

This series shows much promise, and I can’t wait for the next installment in 2013. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher, via Netgalley.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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