• The Axe and the Throne

  • Bounds of Redemption, Volume 1
  • By: M. D. Ireman
  • Narrated by: Matt Cowlrick
  • Length: 22 hrs and 24 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (1,370 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

It is a fool's errand, and Tallos knows it, but against his own better judgment and the pleading of his wife, Tallos has committed himself to a voyage north. His lifelong friend's eldest sons are said to have been taken by Northmen, a raiding people ill-reputed for their savagery. The boys are already dead, Tallos knows, and in that dark place of grim reasoning he wishes only to find their corpses quickly so he can fulfill his promise and return to his wife. Instead, he finds something far worse.

©2015 M. D. Ireman (P)2015 M. D. Ireman

Featured Article: The Best Fantasy Audiobooks to Take You Out of This World


Few audiobooks provide as much of an escape as those in the fantasy genre. Each of the best introduces us to an entirely new world (or a new version of this one), a diverse cast of complexly constructed characters, and a story so mesmerizing we’re reluctant to return to real life. But because the genre is so full of talent, it can be difficult to know what to listen to next. Look no further than this list of the best fantasy audiobooks to get you started.

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What listeners say about The Axe and the Throne

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A book of Good & Horrible things.

Game of Thrones is referenced a lot in comparison to this book. The point of view story telling, and a handful of characters are direct clones, and not the good kinds. Luckily, these lesser characters are more secondary and don't ruin the fun.

The book warns you it is a challenge to read, and it is, but it is the fault of the author. The opening chapters jump from different characters in different places long before the reader knows who is who or what is where. Chapter one is about a small village of peaceful farmers afraid a raid of Northmen have come to kill them, while Chaper 2/3/4 are set of flash backs to introduce 3 characters. Then the story jumps back to the present day...then it jumps across the country to some random castle you've never heard of and some political plot you don't care about before returning to the characters you have invested in...only for you tor realize that more time skip has happened and you're unsure if these characters are 8, 13, 14, or 18.

Game of Thrones opens it's story in a specific place and time. Every point of view character you are initially introduced to is part of the same family and from the same place. We meet other characters first through these characters before we leave the area and explore the world as a whole. It makes it far easier for the reader to digest. You start at A and go forward, eventually new characters who have no ties to the current characters are introduced to help flesh out the world and provide new points of view. Axe and Throne here trades it's point of view characters left and right. You'll have a chapter about Cassen then about Cassens servant girl then the best friend of the girl. All to continue 1 narrative but with random skips of time between them. It's awfully annoying.



As you pass the half way point, it's clear both that the book is going to end far before the story is complete, but also that the world is pretty ok once you've explored it. By now you'll have met every character and you'll have a grasp on the world and the place everyone has within it, thus you can start to enjoy some of the more fun chapters.


Of these, the character of Titon, son of Small Gryn, is my favorite. He's a simple barbarian of a Northman, his story having leave his home land to visit the great cities of the south. A prince going "AS YOU KNOW -" before he shouts backstory/lore at other characters who not only KNOW the backstory, but sit and think "I know this and you're stupid" at him happens way too much, but the simple Titon asks questions that the audience has, and receives answers that audience can live with. It's refreshing and very entertaining. What's more, Titon's every action and thought remind me of Conan the Cimmarian. In fact, any time Titon would do something I felt Conan would do, I would get very excited. Conan is a barbarian, and Robert E. Howard would often write Conan as a strong barbarian who neither understands nor likes the civilized people and their horrible ways. The prologue to the book warns that there are no heroes, and nothing is black and white in this book, but it's when characters act as Heroes and Villains in this book that it becomes a great read. Their actions become believable and admirable when they start to act in ways that are more heroic. It's why Titon shines as a character, he is a noble person with a strong moral compass. His every action moves the plot forward and his chapters are a joy to read. He neither stays in the same place, nor do you ever question what or why he does something. You only wonder what obstacle he faces next and what he will do to overcome it.


Meanwhile, characters like Dekar, Titon Jr., Tallos, and Ethal do nothing but waste time and space. I actually like these characters a lot, but they're clearly saved for another book. They're children waiting for something to happen so they can be involved. What makes this whole thing worse is that these are the opening characters in the novel. You meet these characters first and you hope to see their story develop, only to realize over the course of 20 hours of audio that Ethal has made two friends and three cup sizes between her opening and ending chapter, while characters like Cassem and Titon go through an entire arc or continent in the same 20 hours. It's simply not her story, nor is it Dekar's or Titon Jr's. Half of their stories just drop off never to be picked up until some other future book.




To finish it, the book ends several chapters too late.It's as if the second book had dropped 3 or 4 chapters and the first book picked them up instead. Great endings and cliff hangars continue farther than they should and some ending in places you'd expect a new book to open off at. One character is imprisoned near the end of the book, and instead of having us wonder his fate the book decides to start up 2 whole chapters for this guy being in prison.... but why tho? These moments would be a great opener in a future book, but instead just continue a story it did not care to finish. There is at least one chapter to each character that goes farther into the story than it should have, with the more impressive characters getting 2 chapters farther than they needed. It's just..... it's a pretty big problem that won't mater so much when the second book is out, but it's not out yet. Which...makes this book worse.





In the end, it's an enjoyable listen. I cheered aloud in some moments, and groaned in annoyance at many others. The book feels as if it's shaken off the game of thrones covers by the time it ends, but I'm not sure an entire book can be written of the remains of this story, as enjoyable as the story will be once finished.

24 people found this helpful

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Just what fantasy needs.

Loved everything about it. Perfect for lovers of grim and dark adventure and intrigue.
Amazing.

20 people found this helpful

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Better than expected; awaiting book 2

Sometimes you take a risk with an unknown author who has an unknown book based on their reviews on Amazon and Audible. I did so here and felt richly rewarded. Some criticize the many POV chapters and multiple characters. I would suggest being patient allowing the story to develop. This story has many plot twists and great action. The characters are well developed and draw you in to a complex story. The narration by Matt Cowlrick was excellent. Highly recommended were fans of George RR Martin.

17 people found this helpful

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Not good

The narrator did okay. The pauses might've been too long betweem chapters, and he didn't seem to have a lot of interest, inflection, or tonal characterization. But I'd listen to a better book read by him.

The book itself is atrocious. How did this, amongst the piles of good books strugglong to get published, make it all the way to my Audible? The main story is over and done in the first hour. And I find myself wondering why I should care about what happens after that.

That's my main problem. But there is much more telling than showing. The showing is tropy. Dialogue is borimg, bland, and often cringy. Let's not even talk about if the emotions feel real or the actioms amd reactioms believable.

I'm done with this. It isn't too complex, I'm taking a break from the Malazan Book of the Fallen. The world isn't alive, so nothing inside it is either. It isn't too dark. Rape and murder and 'hard' societies mean nothing if I have no care invested in the characters. Everything needs to mean something in a story. Just being dark for the sake of being dark isn't skill or grit or hard writing. It just comes across as droll and dumb.

Sorry.

14 people found this helpful

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WOW!

This story is Grimdark at its best. I wasn't sure who or what this was about at first, but the summary drew me in. It turned out to be one of the best books I've read in the genre. A character rich story, and raw grit similar to Abercrombie's writing. I can't wait for the next installment to be released.

13 people found this helpful

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A Tremendous Beginning

after reading this, you're left wanting more, and I feel like we're going to get it with the next installment. great way to kick off a series.

10 people found this helpful

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Loved it.

Any additional comments?

I don't usually write reviews yet I notice many people who did NOT actually finish the book reviewing it.
"Everyone dies" is a crock you will see people saying yet i promise you no main character really dies in this. Yes people die, but the foundation characters stay in place and go on to develop well. The father and the two north men sons are awesome and the tracker dog man from the village that the title speaks is also glorious. The title makes you also despise characters much like the boy king from GoT. This is an in depth book and not for the feint hearted, but well worth the time spent. LOVED THIS BOOK.

8 people found this helpful

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Grimdark Goodness !!

What made the experience of listening to The Axe and the Throne the most enjoyable?

The story is extremely compelling, and sucks you in. Chapter by chapter, character POV after character POV, cannot stop reading and listening. Immediately compares to Game of Thrones and Joe Abercrombie's First Law series. But highly original, deftly and expertly written.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Axe and the Throne?

There are so many. I was expecting Tallos to be the main protagonist. I was disappointed a bit in the lack of his chapters, but as the huge storyline, and world building unfolds, it is easily understandable, why some characters take more precedence than others.

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

Og my God....where has this guy my whole life!!?? He is one of the ALL TIME greatest narrators EVER! With a quick research he is a voiceover actor with his own studio, and has a billion clients. Strangely he has only done one other book. Hopefully he will continue to narrate other epic fantasy novels. He talents are sorely lacking in this genre. Cowlrick literally has a different voice for every singe character he voices in this book. He reads with such clarity and originality that is is simply uncanny.

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

When Tallos discovered his wife was.....Don't want to spoil it!
Ever chapter with Tallos moved me especially.

Any additional comments?

MD Ireman is a force to be reckoned with. If you like epic fantasy, world building, barbarians, layers of character development, complex storylines all intertwined, and all in Grimdark goodness you owe to yourself to buy both a trade paperback copy AND the audio like I did!

7 people found this helpful

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Mediocrity without Purpose

I have read hundreds of fantasy books over the course of my life and consider myself a good judge of what is out there. This book spends a lot of time developing multiple characters and the plot seems to have absolutely no point or any kind of unifying theme. Before people get up in arms I did try and stick with this title until the last 6 hrs and I finally gave up.

The author builds characters throughout the book just to kill them in seemingly pointless ways. Some of the characters are intriguing and even likable, but the authors inability to get to a point makes this an unreadable drudge. Save your money and pick up Ambercrombie if you are looking for a decent dark fantasy.

7 people found this helpful

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Dull Dull Dull .. One to avoid!

This is the first audio book I have ever purchased and not finished. I managed 14 hours and that was enough for me. The author has managed to blend a plodding pace, unsympathetic characters and extreme predictability. I am truly struggling to think of anything positive to say about it. It is possible that the series of books improves as it goes along, but my life is too short to ever find out. I have enjoyed dental procedures more.

4 people found this helpful

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  • graham
  • 08-01-16

Excellent

Some have said in their reviews that this story hops around a bit and it made it a little difficult to follow. I must disagree on the final point. It does pop around chronically, but that does NOT deter from the over arching story.
It has a touch of GOT in that there a several leading characters all following their own paths that will undoubtedly intertwine.
Well Written, Well Narrated thoroughly enjoyable

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • FRONKO
  • 03-25-16

strange

overall good, however story does jump around a lot, but intresting and will search for next.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • C. A. Mew
  • 11-25-17

Average fantasy

A decent enough book. Nothing particularly original or earth-shattering about it. I've seen rave reviews about both the story and the narrator; both only slightly better than mediocre. A foreword plays us the "grim dark" nature of the book, and the "challenge" the book represents: both promises fall far short. It is a book of morally questionable characters on all sides like nearly ALL contemporary fantasy.

It is a story on a very grand scale, however, with engaging and well drawn characters. Certain debut novelist traits are present that I'm surprised the editor didn't fix.

I have little doubt that the series this grows into will be an engaging and interesting one. Not worthy of the highest praise I've seen of it, but certainly worthy of 1 credit and 20 hours of easy listening. And I bet the sequel will be 5 star worthy, in honesty and fairness.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr. Richard Ej Chippendale
  • 03-06-22

Couldn't get interested in the story

I just couldn't really get into the story. I didn't find it gripping and didn't really feel the desire to find out what happened to any of the characters. Wanted to enjoy it and listened for many hours but in the end I gave up and moved on.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-07-21

How engaging and entertaining

I was gripped 3 chapters in, the inhumanity shown in the book is nerve wrenching can wait for book 2 to be on here!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-18-21

Technical problem

It skipped a few half words here and there for some reason. More a technical problem.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • james richardson
  • 03-23-20

not very good

lots of potential but brought together in to a story. resulted in to patchy mess.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • CraigO
  • 06-26-19

a very generic story

honestly, a very generic fantasy grimdark story. northern raiders, farmlands and villages being ravaged by aforementioned raiders or the decrees of an indifferent king. lots of plotting and backstabbing in the courts. the female characters are pathetically weak. And the story didn't really have an ending. good to pass the time but nothing exceptional

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Colm Mclaughlin
  • 04-06-19

Dull and hard going

The book starts off with a warning/introduction from the author to the reader. In which the author explains
how amazing this book is and that if the reader does not appreciate how amazing it is, then it is because the
reader is not good enough.

The book uses the format of showing the points of view of multiple characters. It jumps between these very quickly.
The characters feel two dimensional and it was difficult to build empathy with any of them.
I believe the author has heard all this criticism before, hence the warning included at the start.

The story itself was pretty average, the way it was written just made it hard going to get through.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-25-18

Great

Great story. Personally I found some (trying to not leave spoilers) storylines a little 'he said she said'. But it wouldn't be the same story without then!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-20-18

Don't bother

Boring clichés. Boring characters and actions. Doesn't engage at all. The reader makes it worse with his droll tone.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Sean
  • 07-27-16

Good story, poor narration.

The story, though it takes a long time to become interesting, is fairly good. The characters are intricate and some are quite unique, and the writer is talented.
The narration is another story. Bland and emotionless for the most part, there is no real effort put into telling the story. The same tone was used whether a character was yelling or talking quietly and this caused me to almost stop listening, however the story was good enough that i could look past it after a time, despite it still frustrating me time and again.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • laef
  • 08-29-18

wasn't bad

writing could use a little editing, but very promising. looking forward to the next one.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-11-22

Good read, but maybe not for everyone,

This book was described to me as YA and Martin-esque, and I agree, The writing is not as engaging as the latter and slightly toned down in brutality for the former. There's a far amount of character building and swapping between characters that some people might find challenging to follow. My advice, complete each subchapter before you stop the reading.
It really leaves you hanging at the end with no real conclusion. I wish I waited until a few of the following books came out.
The narrator has an Aus/UK accent. It's not monotone but subtle rather than highly animated, which is my preference. A couple of characters were given a monotone and boring voice. Their voices not seeming to match the character.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-18-21

MONOTONE

This story was really difficult to listen to. The narrator's monotone reading made it hard to get into the story, which, at points, sounded really interesting but ultimately impossible for me to follow because the reader has 3 default voices he uses for the entire cast - 1 for a man, 1 for an old man and 1 for both women and children. Added to that, the character dialogue lacked emotion which further made it impossible to become invested in the story. I've bought the book and have started reading it myself and it's already a lot more enjoyable.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-04-18

Meh

Written like it’s for teenagers with an attempt to aim at adult audiences by throwing in some incest and rape. The framework is there but the writer goes into great detail describing completely trivial aspects of the story. Doesn’t really help to build imagery or background just destroys the flow, as does the wooden way the 3rd person narrative is written. Little bit too generalised for me. It feels like it’s a skeleton. It’s hard to tell if the problem with the flow is due to the narration partly. Using accents doesn’t help make something more interesting if you can’t pull them off.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Alnaps
  • 05-03-18

It was entertaining enough but

as I was expecting it to get really good the story ended. I feel the pace dragged for quite a bit and we were given a tiny taste of what could have been a great book. it is off putting when a story is dragged unnecessarily in my eyes. I am sure the author has big plans but i have not been captivated enough to want to continue the story. Narrator was good, some characters were annoying to listen to...mainly the northerners....although it was impressive how deep his voice went and I could still differentiate between the characters. The characters were not complex and the story line pretty standard. not for the light hearted.
I like fantasy because it allows me to escape into a world far from reality. this booked allowed me to do so but it is definitely not in my top 100.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Andrew
  • 08-07-17

Not like it

This is the first fantasy novel that I really didn't like or grab me in anyway, the voice actor had a lovely deep voice but no infelction or emotion

.