• Balance

  • The Divine Book One
  • By: M.R. Forbes
  • Narrated by: Jeff Hays
  • Length: 9 hrs and 42 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (846 ratings)

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Balance  By  cover art

Balance

By: M.R. Forbes
Narrated by: Jeff Hays
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Publisher's Summary

My name is Landon Hamilton. Once upon a time I was a twenty-three year old security guard, trying to regain my life after spending a year in prison for stealing people's credit card numbers.

Now, I'm dead.

Okay, I was supposed to be dead. I got killed after all; but a funny thing happened after I had turned the mortal coil...

I met Dante Alighieri - yeah, that Dante. He told me I was special, a diuscrucis. That's what they call a perfect balance of human, demon, and angel. Apparently, I'm the only one of my kind.

I also learned that there was a war raging on Earth between Heaven and Hell, and that I was the only one who could save the human race from annihilation. He asked me to help, and I was naive enough to agree.

Sounds crazy, I know, but he wished me luck and sent me back to the mortal world. Oh yeah, he also gave me instructions on how to use my Divine 'magic' to bend the universe to my will. The problem is, a sexy vampire crushed them while I was crushing on her.

Now I have to somehow find my own way to stay alive in a world of angels, vampires, werewolves, and an assortment of other enemies that all want to kill me before I can mess up their plans for humanity's future. If that isn't enough, I also have to find the queen of all demons and recover the Holy Grail.

It's not like it's the end of the world if I fail.

Wait. It is.

©2013 Michael Forbes (P)2014 Michael Forbes

What listeners say about Balance

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    40
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Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    352
  • 4 Stars
    239
  • 3 Stars
    126
  • 2 Stars
    43
  • 1 Stars
    17

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Nobody likes me.. Everybody hates me.

This describes the main character. He goes from being a part-time security guard to being one of 3-4 people who basically have the entire universe against them He has to help maintain the balance between good and evil because if either side wins humanity ultimately loses. Combine this with a scenario similar to Greatest American hero, where the good guy loses the instruction book for his powers and you have an interesting ride ahead.

This is a well written book. The story is action packed and the author knows how to write a good fight scene. The world is interesting and takes a worn out old trope and breathes some new life into it. The main character has to fight both heaven and hell, so you get a perspective most books never cover.

The narrarator did an excellent job. He had a great range of voices and each was a distinct character. My only complaint would be that the character development was pretty thin. Hopefully this will improve as the series develops. There is a lot of potential for conflict. Right now the bad guys are winning so it is easy for the protagonist to justify what he does. it will be really interesting if the good guys get the upper hand and he has to start thinning that herd.

Overall, a fun and entertaining book. Balance is definitely worth a credit if you are looking for a new series to follow.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Surprisingly good!

What did you love best about Balance?

The author was able to take the cliched theme of Heaven vs. Hell and give it a refreshing twist. The addition of a third side to the classic war between good and evil, a side that can never win but must always prevent one of the others from winning, really gave this theme the shot in the arm it needed. Heaven vs. Hell stories are a dime a dozen, but this one really shined. The characters in the story, despite their supernatural nature, were believable and felt very real. The protagonist, Landon Hamilton, quickly becomes a fleshed out and viable character that one can enjoy routing for.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Balance?

There were several moments that count as memorable and it hard to pick just one. However, the initial scene between Landon and Josette stood out. Their interaction was particularly well written.

Which scene was your favorite?

Another difficult thing to answer. So many good scenes! If I have to pick one it would be the scene during Rebecca's birthday party. Landon really begins to shine during the climax of the scene, showing that he's more than just a 'one trick pony.'

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I found myself laughing often. Subtle and well placed references to modern real-world pop culture not only were entertaining when they came up, but helped make the world the author created feel authentic and just as real as ours.

Any additional comments?

There isn't a specific place for this, but I want to point it out. The narrator did an outstanding job in my opinion. His voice characterizations were varied enough that each character felt unique, and he gave each a personality that made them feel authentic. By the end of the first chapter I was sucked into the story, in large part of how well it was being read.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

the old good versus evil

I really enjoyed this take on the old good versus evil. Heaven and Hell are not exactly as we think and angels and demons do actually walk among us! Landon is really out of his league and he realizes that while he is scanning his present predicament. Getting killed by a demon and waking up in purgatory can put a bit of stress on a person!

While the concept is great, the plot threw me a bit. It reminds me a lot of Bill the Vampire but without the full on snarkiness, which makes it good but I missed that. While Landon is not like Bill, they are similar, and both totally over their heads! Maybe it’s the fact that the world is full of vampires, werewolves, demons, and angels. It is a lot to take in for one book!

I was also thrown by Landon’s love interest. While I didn’t totally disagree with it, it felt odd… forced. There’s way too much going on in your life Landon! Keep your thoughts on your work! Also, dealing with so much in this world, Landon is forced to learn very quickly, and not really told anything by his “mentor” Dante. It just creates a bunch of mess! Then Dante comes back and is ticked at Landon for not knowing how to do something.

The constant fighting without feeling like there was real plot progression was a bit annoying but the characters were fun. And while the plot did not totally hit me, I did enjoy Landon’s main story. I think this could even be broken up to be two books to make it a little more seamless. What Landon does learn is incredible and does keep the plot moving, even if there are bumps in the road.

The side characters, like Obi, were amazing! Who names their poor kid Obi Wan?! He was as hilarious as his name and turned out to be a pretty good fighter too!

The audible was quite fun to listen to. There are little add ins like laughter or sound effects here and there. Someone will growl in the book and there will be a growl! I love that little bit extra! The narration was quite on point too, and maybe that is why I was reminded of Bill the Vampire. The narrators are quite similar in the way they produce their characters. I must add that Jeff Hays does such a fantastic job that it actually sounds like multiple people produced this!

The ending is a full cliff hanger. While I am curious, I am not dying to know what happens. Landon goes through a LOT in this one and I can only imagine what is in store next for him.

Audiobook provided for review by the narrator.

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog

[If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Well narrated, enjoyable supernatural action story

[Just to be above board, I got a free copy from the narrator. I've tried not to let that fact sway my review.]

First off, the story: Balance is a very quick pace supernatural action story. The story starts where many finish: with the death of the main character. Upon dying he finds himself in purgatory before being told of an epic battle between Angels and Demons. Yes, the same one people have been writing about forever. But this is a little different, in that Landon is told there is actually a 3rd party that is in the battle - one who sole purpose is to ensure that neither of the other sides win and that the fight is always kept in balance. Landon is roped into being on this side (to me a rather depressing thing, because there is no way he can ever win. there is no end game for him). As an enemy of both angels and demons he is sent back to earth to keep the world in balance.

I found the characters all interesting and varying. the only one that struck me as too unbelievable was the most normal of them all. Or at least the only major non-paranormal one. The friend, Obi, is a ex-military drill sergeant, crack shot, computer hacker, paranormal specialist. There can't be many of those in the world. But then maybe there is only one and the fact that Landon found him is some sort of divine gift.

The action was great and (mostly) unrelenting. It did slow down at times for a few deeper conversations and moments. And also for a few "info dump" world building moments. The only one of these that felt really off and forced to me was one of the early ones contained in a letter/instruction book.

The only other annoyance (I'm mostly mentioning things that annoyed, but I really did enjoy the book) was the cliffhanger ending. There was some resolution to the book but not that much. It clearly is set up as part 1 of 3 or something, rather than a self contained book that happens to have a sequel.

Over all 3.5, edging towards a 4. Audible's lack of nuance in scoring makes me give it a 4.


Narrator (and audio production): This was really good. It was clear the narrator put a lot of effort into the narration and the production. Effects were used for monsters voices to give them a stronger sound, each character had a clear and distinguishable voice, and inflection on things like sarcasm or fear or anger were clear.

The only thing of it that I found a little off and jarring was laughter. When characters laughed the narrator did the typical chuckle that narrators do, but also added an additional laugh on top of the narration. Possibly to make the laugh sound more real, but if didn't really work for me.

Overall the annoyance with that was minor, so I would say narration etc is 4 / 5.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Story was a bit one dimensional....

Would you try another book from M.R. Forbes and/or Jeff Hays?

I'll say this, his idea of having a 3rd player in the good v evil tale as old as time was great. BUT his characters all seemed very simple. The lead just going along with everything and not having any intense emotion for this massive change to his life/afterlife was crazy. He sort of doesn't have any real emotion through the entire book except in the end which I can't describe for obvious reasons. That being said, I am going to get the second book in the series because I want to see how or IF the author further describes the mythos of purgatory. Also, I don't understand why the author brought in a character ex-marine/hacker when the lead is supposed to be a hacker to begin with. Its like, why?

What does Jeff Hays bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I don't know if I can actually credit the narrator on this because I think the tech used to modify the angels/demons voices did most of the work. His voice was smooth and soothing to listen to though. A bit lacking in emotion , but I think that was because of the writing and not the narrators fault.

Any additional comments?

I'm going to give the author another chance to hook me into the story with book two. Hopefully he fleshes out the characters and story more in the 2nd.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Nothing glaring - just... why do we care?

It's not poorly written. The characters are not just stereotypes. The premise is different enough from urban fantasies...

So, why was it so darn uninteresting?

There is no glaring annoyance that ruins this story, it just is too... "I don't really care what happens to any of them". There is no real sense of angst or pressure and, while it's technically a story about good versus evil, we aren't really led to care one way or the other about which side prevails.

It might just be that the main character rode a middle ground (sat on the fence) so we couldn't root for him to "win" - especially since "winning" required, really, that he not win at all (a.k.a. his goal was to keep the balance, not to defeat one side or the other). And, if you can't root for the protagonist to "win" against obstacles, why read it?

I won't be reading any more in the series - I need to root for someone in order to enjoy a story. I need there to be a winner and a loser and some tension that makes me care one way or the other.

The narration is very good. There is nothing gory or graphic. No sex, and I don't recall any swearing.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

The Divine Book One

Any additional comments?

I started this book without knowing what it was about. It started off interesting and held my interest throughout. I will be getting the next book to continue with the series. Jeff does a really good job with the different characters. I love that.

This book was gifted to me in exchange for an honest and unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBoom!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Well Now

Good vs Evil now where have we run across that concept before. Never knowing who is on your side. Not sure what and why you are and encountering all sorts of strange creatures in your journey to discover true facts. Betrayal then saving by the same people. Sent out into a world that is ultimately really strange and then discovering your powers only when you really need them and then successfully using them the next time. This book was filled with these types of twists and turns. the narration was excellent and the fight scenes and especially jumping from 50 stories up and only breaking your back and then healing almost immediately. Wow.
I was given this book in exchange for an unbiased review via audiobook boom. Wonder what the author's have up their sleeves next. I kind of got the impression that no matter who wins good or evil that humanity loses. But then again this is coming from the authors imagination. I know who really wins in the end.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Demons, Angels & Divine

A great series by author M.R. Forbes! I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I look forward to listening to the other series. The story captures every emotion and the characters are intriguing. This is a must listen to series!!

Narrator Jeff Hays is by far the best narrator that I've listened to in years. I guess you can call me a fan of his but even though I am, my review is unbiased. He does a fantastic job with distinguishing each characters voice. This young narrator is going places and authors he's worth every dollar! He is a very talented narrator and M.R. Forbes couldn't have chosen a voice to fit his stories any better than Jeff! Overall, a perfect 5 star rating!!!!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Hey, Hey! Let's be careful out there!

If you could sum up Balance in three words, what would they be?

Good Evil Landon

What did you like best about this story?

This was the first book in a series of fantasy dealing with the eternal struggle between Good and Evil with Mankind's existence as the prize. M.R. Forbes is a master at the characters developing, their inner motivation, and action. And much more in his writing.

Have you listened to any of Jeff Hays’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, I have.Jeff Hays is probably the best narrator out there. I've been amazed with what he can bring to audio book narratives. That being said, though excellent, this didn't give listeners a chance for Jeff to excel at what he is capable of. Don't get me wrong, he did a great job. It was more that the book didn't offer chances at his fortes... imaginative rendering of voices, building excitement in the scenerios, etc. This may sound like negative criticism of Mr. Hays, it isn't meant to be. My answer addresses the question, which asked for comparison. My opinion... Your opinion may vary. lol

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Actually it was fairly early on. Landon Hamilton meeting and talking with Dante. Getting the scoop, as it were. This is the first book in what so far is a six book series. There is a lot of development, character introduction and the like.

Any additional comments?

Don't take my critique as negative in anyway toward the work itself, or Jeff Hays' narrative. Both are entertaining. I'm a big fan of Jeff's and though fantasy isn't my first choice of genre, enjoy Michael (M.R.) Forbes' writing a lot!

Thanks again for the opportunity to listen to this audio book!

This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBoom dot com.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for KEITH
  • KEITH
  • 01-06-15

decent

Good idea, however so many holes in the story leaves you frustrated that he doesnt use his other powers..
worth a listen tho

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • DARREN
  • 07-30-20

excellent!

loved it! downloading the next one in the series right now!! i think this might be one of my top ten authors 👌🏾😊

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Teitur Ásgeirsson
  • Teitur Ásgeirsson
  • 01-26-19

GOOD BOOK

I have over 300 audible titles and I have to say that the narration and performance of this book is one of the best I've heard. It's a compelling universe with a great story and awesome characters

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mick h
  • Mick h
  • 05-25-18

not bad

a good book that kept me entertained a bit predictable tho
I will continue the series as the story is interesting hoping the author has good progression of both characters and storylines

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mark
  • Mark
  • 06-27-17

Poor man's John Conroe!

This is a style of book I really like,but this feels like plagerism big time!
My favourite author in this genre is John Conroe, this book feels like a watered down copy of his books.
Still, it's not bad but has been done before and better!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ali
  • Ali
  • 07-19-16

So Many Twists and Turns

A story of discovery, that leads you wanting to listen to the next chapter. Nothing is ever quite what it seems. The good guys aren't all good and the bad guys......... Its one of those books I'll listen to more than once.

The narrator has an engaging tone and pace that keeps you engaged.

Can't wait to listen to the next instalment.


This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBoom dot com.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Tony Bough
  • Tony Bough
  • 07-19-16

He was an average guy until he died - cool!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. I read the first book and it was great. It was even better getting the second book as an audiobook. I love average boy Landon. I also love the grey that this book suggest. We have the black of evil, the white of good but here we see the grey of purgatory. Really good idea! Great characters too!

What was one of the most memorable moments of Balance?

I don't want to ruin a really good book by telling you the best bits. I really like the way that Landon befriends members on both sides of the good vs evil conflict and how he collects an eclectic group of friends along the way.

I liked Josette's choices towards the latter end of the novel and the way that they will develop the story further.

Which character – as performed by Jeff Hays – was your favourite?

They are all brilliant. He breaths life into all the characters. He does men and women in a way that make you feel like they are the correct gender. Landon is obviously the most developed character in terms of the story but as far as the narration is concerned it's amazing for all the characters.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, yes, yes! Really good. I managed it in 3 sittings.

Any additional comments?

This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBoom dot com.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-14-19

Average

diverting enough to finish at ×2 speed.

There's no enough time for the plot to breathe and the characters to develop. The pace is frantic with new scenes, deaths, deus ex machina power up-grades, and summarised world building ever 100 words. It's like the run on sentence of a child just waking from a fever dream...eg: and then she died, and then I was in another world and then there was someone trying to kill me and then I had a magically convinent power. and then side-kick and then. and then. unsatisfying.