• The Shadow of What Was Lost

  • The Licanius Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: James Islington
  • Narrated by: Michael Kramer
  • Length: 25 hrs and 28 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (21,363 ratings)

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The Shadow of What Was Lost

By: James Islington
Narrated by: Michael Kramer
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Publisher's Summary

It has been 20 years since the end of the war. The dictatorial Augurs, once thought of almost as gods, were overthrown and wiped out during the conflict, their much-feared powers mysteriously failing them. Those who had ruled under them, men and women with a lesser ability known as the Gift, avoided the Augurs' fate only by submitting themselves to the rebellion's Four Tenets.

A representation of these laws is now written into the flesh of any who use the Gift, forcing those so marked into absolute obedience. As a student of the Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war fought--and lost--before he was born. Despised by most beyond the school walls, he and those around him are all but prisoners as they attempt to learn control of the Gift. Worse, as Davian struggles with his lessons, he knows there is further to fall if he cannot pass his final tests. But when he discovers he has the ability to wield the forbidden power of the Augurs, he sets into motion a chain of events that will change everything.

To the north an ancient enemy, long thought defeated, begins to stir. And to the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian’s wakes up in the forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is....

©2014 James Islington (P)2015 Podium Publishing

Critic Reviews

"Robert Jordan fans should check this out!" (Pop Bop, Top 500 Amazon Reviewer)

What listeners say about The Shadow of What Was Lost

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Surprised by the Fanfare

I’m taken aback by how emphatically enthusiastic the reviews of this book have been. As so many of the other reviewers here mention, I was pulled in by the comparison to Robert Jordan. The story was generally entertaining, but I did have specific issues. (1) I felt the characters lacked depth and pathos. There was no one I felt emotionally invested in. (2) The story was surprisingly and consistently violent. Whole leagues of bodies, some with the heads of the adults re-attached to children. Stabbing up into people’s brains. Cutting people’s private parts out while they are alive and screaming. It was difficult to listen to, and weighed more and more heavily on me as the story progressed. (3) I understand that there is nothing new under the sun, and the overall story was quite different than other books. That being said, some of the points echoed a little too strongly back to Wheel of Time: shadowy bad creatures with dark cloaks that don’t move in the wind, a sword that is not a sword, core character(s) that are reincarnations of major historical legends. Laman (spelled here as Laiman) is not the king, but the king’s chief advisor. I found these repetitions distracting. (4) The actions of some of the characters were extremely implausible.

During the majority of the story it was entertaining enough, and while I grew more disengaged as it progressed, it still kept me through to the end. I may even consider giving the second book a go, although right now I’m uncertain. If you’re a fantasy fan and having trouble finding something to read, and can handle a fair amount of violent images, you may enjoy this; it certainly seems that the vast majority of readers are.

276 people found this helpful

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Maybe a fun read for someone younger

I think the author probably thinks he's written a clever story with lots of twists and turns, and a big reveal at the end. I'm sorry to say the plot is actually quite incoherent, the characters are not interesting, their dialogue is stilted, the descriptions of their thoughts, feelings, and reactions are blunt and obvious, leaving little to the readers discretion or imagination. The magic is not interesting, the plot is incoherent and terrible. Michael Kramer does a fine job reading, but that's pretty much irrelevant given what he's reading.

As a fan of NOTW, WoT, LOTR, HP, and many other fantasy series, the high volume of positive reader reviews this book has received had me very excited. I'm very disappointed, and can only conclude that this book mostly appeals to teenagers and big fans of YA who don't particularly need strong character development to be entertained, and who don't care about reading (or listening to) terrible dialogue and prose. If those things aren't important to you, then maybe you won't mind reading this book.

269 people found this helpful

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Atrocious. Almost abusive.

There are 2 major deal-breaker violations at play in this author-audience relationship. There are a decent few recording and really distracting grammar errors, but I'm not talking about those.

First and foremost: This series is structurally far more complex than the 'landmark high-complexity' series in this genre (such as Stormlight Archive, etc). Meaning, you are given several times as many character names with vital roles and locations along with their geography, power, & political mechanics to memorize... which is FINE... when well written. - These are by far the worst presented complexities I've ever seen in a successful series. - You don't know what anybody looks like, no reason to care what their names are, no demarkation of any kind by which to remember them amidst the pool of 100 other 5-random-syllable names. - That alone makes the series functionally useless as an audiobook. In text at least you can see the letters of the names pop out for visual recognition. In audio, it's just random streams of meaningless syllables since you were never given reason to invest in or care about the vast majority of vital-role characters.

When you launch your aspirations for complexity this high, you inherit a massive obligation to clarity that simple stories do not carry. You are responsible for introducing cultural differences and landmarks in ways that matter and instill memory like the cultural introductions in LOTR or the landmark histories in Riyeria... not to murmur them once in passing then refer back to dozens of them endlessly as if we were all computers taking dictation.

For the record, The Emperor's Blades is a trilogy in exactly this space that involves nearly the same number of characters, with different names, cultures, religions, continents, and magic systems, and nails clarity perfectly. Go there. The author did the actual story work. You'll LOVE IT. It can be done, and it's nothing short of amazing when it is.

Second: He presents recaps of the prior books... including almost endless information that absolutely wasn't in the previous books. - Meaning: You get to book 3... and the author basically says: Here's what happened in the past... then proceeds to tell you about the book he thinks he's written... including endless information about the world of the priors, that absolutely wasn't in the books. Basically saying, 'I infer these things as the author... so I imagine they made it onto the page.' - They didn't. And you may think that clarifies things... but with the sheer volume of "recap"... which is basically a firehose of names and locations that you couldn't have possibly imprinted the first time... you're no better off than if you just stopped the recap, and started the series over again to see if the information was more retainable from the starting line... which I did... twice... over 3 years... because I couldn't believe the reviews on here. It's sort of like if the recap of Star Wars told you: As you know from having just watched it... Luke flunked out of math class because of the calculator incident... and Baleraform was always the best planet for manufacturing batteries because of the bounty of the following list of chemicals... please try to remember their names as there will definitely be a test: Chlominate, Lindarious-Phazon, Ascilium Scillicate, Renart.... etc. etc.

You are being gaslit while being assigned endless homework. Which isn't as fun as it sounds.

242 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The whole trilogy is fantastic

No spoilers:

As someone who has at least sampled every highly rated fantasy book series, I'm extremely picky. I need originality. I need good character development. I need good dialog. I need intelligent plotlines. And for a series, I need a satisfying plot arc. It's incredibly rare to find a series that has all these things. The Licanius Trilogy delivers, across the board.

This might be the single most satisfying series plot arc I've ever experienced. Masterfully done.

Do yourself a favor: stop reading reviews which may contain spoilers. Get all three books, and prepare yourself for a phenomenal ride.

215 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant!

Any additional comments?

I read many reviews comparing The Shadow of What Was Lost to Robert Jordan's work. I was almost offended that a new author would be compared to the legendary Jordan. However, after listening to this fantastic debut, I must grudgingly agree with the other reviewers. Many aspects of the world Islington created are indeed similar to The Wheel of Time. However, the story feels very original and I don't feel this is just a copy of Jordan's work.

You will instantly find yourself caring for the characters. The story flows smoothly and the ending instantly makes you want to find the sequel. There are quite a few unanswered questions which I have been speculating on daily since I finished listening. I hope we get some answers in the next installment.

I do have two minor complaints (small enough not to reduce the 5-star rating). The first is I would have liked more physical descriptions of the main characters. There weren't enough physical descriptors to build a good picture of the characters in my mind's eye. The other complaint is that this is only planned as a trilogy. Just with the story lines already started, I could easily see 5 - 6 books without the story dragging. I'm hoping Islington creates another trilogy set in the same world after The Licanius Trilogy is complete.

Michael Kramer, as always, was absolutely superb.

138 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting, if a bit overwrought

I'll confess that this is one of the few times I've can say that an online ad caught my attention. Adverts for this book started showing up in my Facebook feed with the promise that fans of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson would enjoy it. That was enough to get me to take a look, but it was ultimately finding that Michael Kramer, audiobook narrator of Jordan's Wheel of Time and Sanderson's Stormlight Archive series that convinced me to make the purchase.

Islington has certainly studied and taken to heart the style of Jordan and Sanderson, and I appreciated that aspect of the storytelling. One difference is that he is less of a world builder - giving enough background, history, and setting to give context to the story he wants to tells. There are no six page descriptions of every last meal, nor page long genealogies of random characters that we pass by in a hallway one time.

That said, the story does getting overwhelmed somewhat by introducing many major characters and taking them in several directions very quickly. This makes the climax rather more tedious than it should be as all the points of view have to come together at the end. This final section is what ultimately lead me to give this a three star instead of four star rating.

Still, being honest, Jordan's and Sanderson's first works weren't perfect. Islington has produced an interesting world and characters. The epilogue provides a promising look at where this story can go and I'm hooked enough to see how it plays out. I would indeed recommend this to fans of Jordan and Sanderson, with the caveat that we're catching a promising author at his beginning, so it is somewhat unfair to expect him to yet be matching these other authors at their mature best.

124 people found this helpful

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Still confused...

Who is the hero? Who is the villain? What year is it? Is this a flashback? Is this group bad? Is that group good? Whats the differen e between essence and khan? Where are they at now? Basically, this book needs refinement.

112 people found this helpful

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Time travel done right

I edited this review after reading the final entry in the series. All the frustration and idiocy I found in this book was due to a lack of info. These books intentionally confuse and disorient which I couldnt accept til I knew WHY. Push through to the final entry, it was worth it.

104 people found this helpful

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A good start, but not for everyone.

I read many reviews before I bought this book and it was about what I expected. Many people compare this book to Sanderson or Jordan, but while there are similarities I would not say everyone would like both. The book is well written, but it just seems that it is only a set up for the next book. I was a little aggravated at the amount of prophesies and confusing parts of conversation in this book. I understand that people keep secrets and everything, but it is aggravating when every few chapters you are given some cryptic message or a secret that they will understand when the time comes. Other than my few gripes I would say the book is good even if it is a bit confusing at times.

Michael Kramer does a wonderful job narrating as always.

99 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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James Islington Has A Great Epic Here

What did you love best about The Shadow of What Was Lost?

I liked the ways the characters moved smoothly and the constant build up of broadening the scope of the story. When they make shadows out of the special people and how the story comes together. It's hard not to want to hear one more hours on your Kindle.

What did you like best about this story?

The surprising Heros. The new mythical world that comes to life and seems so real. I don't want to spoil the book. If you like Sanderson or any other great epic books of adventure. You will love this. James Islington Has story telling talent.

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

He's good and I guess he's perfect for long story's. But for me he has little dramatic training. Still for the work and length I still give him 5 star. Great job but limited vocal range. He's a master with the vocal he has to use. In fact he's better in this than Sanderson Way of kings.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

A New Mythical World You will Never Forget

Any additional comments?

I just say thank you for books like these. They really are worth having a audible membership.

62 people found this helpful

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  • Lulu
  • 02-16-15

A Great Masterpiece by a Great Mastermind no doubt

After a few chapters, I was worried that the book lacked both sufficient characters and a good story- but then, I began to get drawn in... This is a VERY complex well thought out tale, that captures aspects of great mystery, deception, political strategy, very subtle hints of romance... It is a story of hope, of the loyalty of young friends who are robbed of their innocence and plunged into a world where they are forced to positions of responsibility and power but surrounded by treachery and lies, forcing them to grapple with and pursue, and even change, their own identities and re-determine their true purpose and path..

You will agree that this book is like a whirlpool, you're sucked in at a bearable pace, then feel the pull strengthen and accelerate causing you to tense up and at times struggle to keep up... With every chapter, the story is twisted into greater complexity and intensity, and though you will be left with no doubt that the story has really only just begun when you reach the end of the book, you will be thoroughly satisfied at finally putting it done and having some time to assimilate the story so far before eagerly searching out details of the release of the next instalment/Book in the series.

This is definitely a 5 star read in every respect!! The narrator as usual, is credited with a fantastic performance only perfecting what is already a perfectly great story/book!!

38 people found this helpful

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  • Mike
  • 07-07-15

The tag line says it all...almost

Is there anything you would change about this book?

This feels so familiar. The tag line on the jacket says "Robert Jordan Fans should check this out" and there is a reason for that. It feels like a blend of Wheel of time ( our reluctant hero, who doesn't believe he has any powers is pursed by monsters who are trying to kill him) and Game of Thrones (There is a barrier in the north that was once garrisoned to protect the land, but no one now believes there is any danger...except its weakening and monsters are coming through.....). its almost like you can predict where things are going...almost...

Its true the similarity is exacerbated by the fact that Michael Kramer also narrates Wheel of Time so it may have been a mistake to engage him, but he is a master at this genre.

Would you be willing to try another book from James Islington? Why or why not?

OK so taking everything into account and getting past the sense that I have heard all this before...this isn't a terrible book. Its fun, keeps you intrigued and introduces some complexity into the story. I will buy the next book in the series,though i do doubt it will end at three books.

Was The Shadow of What Was Lost worth the listening time?

Yes.

33 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • JS
  • 03-29-15

A great listen and a superb ending.

A very enjoyable book although I must admit, at times I got a bit lost with the twists and turns.

12 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Zac
  • 02-26-15

A great new series

Any additional comments?

I'm very happy to have come across this book. It feels like an old school epic fantasy series beginning. I agree with another reviewer that it seems very sanderson like,I would also say that some of the writing seems similar to the wheel of time books. Very engaging characters and a story that flows very well. Highly recommended. Michael Kramer does an excellent job as usual with the narration.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Simon
  • 07-26-16

Nothing Lost in This Shadow

Michael Kramer purrs and growls his way through twenty-five hours of genuinely inventive narrative. The characters grow, the tension builds, the intrigue winds its way around my imagination and the magic quite simply unfolds before my very ears. Excellent fantasy of the epic variety from James Islington.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • christian
  • 03-28-15

not quite radiance but still a sterling book.

looking forward to seeing how this plays out. an interesting slant and fantasy will keep reading.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Robyn
  • 01-15-18

Excellent

I'm excited to have discovered this trilogy. It's a complex fantasy world, with a huge cast of characters and a solid "magic" system and it all charges along at a cracking pace. (It probably helps that it's Michael Kramer's narration, and I have come to associate his voice with a favourite series - Stormlight)

The only negative comment I would make is that I am struggling to keep up with all the names - but that may be a factor of my listening while doing 100 other things and therefore not paying full attention. This is a story that probably requires more attention than most, and I did find myself having to replay the last 30 seconds, on a fairly regular basis, to check I'd not missed another clue.

Lead characters are likable with enough mystery to keep them interesting too.

This very much reminded my of the Wheel of Time (just with fewer annoying references to sheep).

If you're an epic fantasy fan - then this is highly recommended.




5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • ivar
  • 03-23-15

Worth it

Great stuff, reminds me of Brandon sanders. James is clearly giving the listener/reader what they want. Michael kramer er brilliant like always that and the story itself make you often wonder if your truly not just listening to Brandon. The story is also really kewl and the side story's are everywhere hopefully we'll see more of that in the next book. but yeah buy this book if you like Brandon.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Richard Taylor
  • 02-11-15

Absolutely brilliant.

I bought this on a whim and was amazed! I had to check it wasn't a Brandon Sanderson book.
I'm hooked and will be looking for more from James Islington.

5 stars

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jon C.
  • 07-02-15

Not quite

Would you try another book written by James Islington or narrated by Michael Kramer?

I will be listening too the rest of the trilogy as it has engaged me throughout a long car drive across Europe. It is a good story with perhaps a few re hashed ideas which are made more obvious by the use of the excellent narrator Michael Kramer. It is unfortunate as he has done some fantastic narration on the books of Brandon Sanderson and I found the voices conflicted a little for me as I have already a character associated with the voice.

Would you be willing to try another book from James Islington? Why or why not?

I will be listening to the rest of the trilogy and then I will decide on whether I will listen to other works by him.

Have you listened to any of Michael Kramer’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Kramer, as ever is excellent and is on a par with his other performances.

Any additional comments?

A good listen for anyone doing long journeys but in my opinion not quite up to the standards set by Sanderson and Abercrombie. That in itself is a very high standard and I have enjoyed the first part of the trilogy.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Richard
  • 10-15-17

heckin good boiiieeee

I was looking for something to listen to/read to hold me over till oathbreaker comes out. In all of the lists if things people recommended while waiting for oathbreaker this book was either not mentioned or so little mentioned It didn't stick. it has some wheel of time vibes. It's well written and was a joy to listen to.

30 people found this helpful

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  • Robert P. Rumball
  • 04-10-16

A great start for a Series (I want more)

What did you like most about The Shadow of What Was Lost?

A very believable story involving youngsters (I'm 84 but my kids tell me I've never grown up)
Some nice Hi Faluting Psuedo-Hi-Sci

Who was your favorite character and why?

Blaes, or Blase, I see myself in this character

Have you listened to any of Michael Kramer’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No, but I'm wanting to see more of this series

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

The shadowing of Asher

Any additional comments?

I just loved the story, its characters, and the action....gimme more!

21 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Edjnr
  • 09-18-16

Ignore the narrative style at the start

This is a great story, after reading the reviews I was hesitant to buy. After listening to the sample of the first chapter the narration grated on me to the point that I didn't buy this audiobook, sounding like some cheap 90's trailer voiceover. But thankfully after purchasing and getting past that first chapter the narration improved immensely. That or I grew accustomed to it and the story was great enough for it to not matter.

12 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • melanoxylon
  • 09-27-17

disappointed

The good: the magic system works: there's enough detail to connect with, yet still vague enough not to trip alarm bells in my scientifically trained mind. Positive female characters. The narrator has a wonderful repertoire of accents, cadences and pitches to easily distinguish characters from each other.

The bad: The emotional responses of the characters are way off the mark. Dialogues are often forced, e.g: too many words in high stress scenarios. Some scenes feel set up and pointless, and are obviously placed to be followed up - signs of a cut and paste job to fix plot holes after the first edit, but never worked into the story properly. It all feels like a teen bubble, where the significance of the actions and opinions of the teen characters are unrealistically inflated. The narrator makes everything sound melodramatic.

7 people 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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  • Malcolm
  • 07-27-15

A story that grows

The story is not a genre I would normally read but as it was on special I thought I would give it a go.
The book started off slow for me and the readers voice took some getting use to but , as the story line unfolded and the characters became familiar, the story grew on me. As the book drew to its conclusion I thought to myself " where is book 2 I need it now"

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jonathon
  • 05-14-15

Highly recommended

Good book all round, characters are easy to follow and has a good narrator. Looking forward to the second book.

7 people found this helpful

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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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  • Shaun mcdonald
  • 04-23-18

Unfulfilled potential

Book one a good start, but book 2 is very hard going, didn’t finish, not enjoyable.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Joshua
  • 03-27-17

Annoying Voice

The narrators voice was gravely and annoying. It was hard to discern who was talking because of the lack off difference between the voices.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nina crause
  • 01-06-17

Brilliant storytelling

Author fantastic in weaving a great story and characters. I could really feel their confusion, sadness and loss. It took a while to get into the narrators voice, he was outstanding but grating at the same time.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • nikki
  • 07-07-20

Not a favourite

This book seemed too YA to me and I didn't love it. In fact, I didn't even bother getting the next book in the trilogy as I just didn't care enough about the characters or the story to see what happens next. Michael Kramer as the narrator was wonderful, he is probably my favourite narrator at the moment. But the story itself just felt very formulaic and I don't think that character development was there - I just didn't care about them. The story wasn't terrible, but overall...sorry, this one was a miss for me.

1 person found this helpful