• Wardens of Issalia: The Complete Epic Series

  • Wardens of Issalia, Books 1-4
  • By: Jeffrey L. Kohanek
  • Narrated by: Tim Campbell
  • Length: 34 hrs and 31 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (63 ratings)

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Wardens of Issalia: The Complete Epic Series

By: Jeffrey L. Kohanek
Narrated by: Tim Campbell
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Publisher's Summary

Contains the complete Wardens of Issalia series, an action-packed fantasy adventure saga filled with deception, destruction, and some serious fire-powered weapons.

Everson is mentally gifted, and yet, he feels broken. Cursed with non-functional legs, he dreams of nothing more than being useful. His sister, Quinn, is brave, relentless, and will do anything to protect him, so when Everson is sent to a school of magic and invention, Quinn joins a military academy to remain near him.

Danger lurks within the fabled institutions. Quinn becomes embroiled in a struggle she doesn't understand, one with dire consequences as her training shifts from difficult to deadly. Her relentless determination might help her survive. If she only knew whom she could trust. Within the other school, Everson studies a dangerous magic known as Chaos. Unable to wield this magic, he melds it with science, dreaming up inventions to reshape the future. His greatest discovery might change the world...or it could destroy everything.

Join Everson, Quinn, and magic-wielding friends as they attempt to harness a magical power source to act as the Kingdom of Issalia's shield against tyranny.

©2021 Jeffrey L. Kohanek (P)2021 Podium Audio

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Great Listen

I probably give too many four-star ratings on book reviews; however, I’m at least miserly when it comes to providing five’s. With that said, this book deserves the five stars it has received. The writing is fantastic, and the narration brings the characters to life. All in all, this book is well worth the credit.

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Exceptional Character Driven Series!!

Book #1 – Wardens of Issalia – The Wardens of Issalia is set approx. 20yrs after the events that took place in the Runes of Issalia series. With the end of the battle of the hordes, the Empire was broken up into their respective Kingdoms, and a new King set to rule each of them.
Book 1 though follows two young siblings, Everson and Jacquinn (Quinn) Gulagas. They are not blood sibling’s, Everson having been adopted by the family after he was found by Quinn’s dad when he was a baby after the Horde had destroyed their village, and they were fleeing to Cinti Mor. It was there, that the family set up, with the Father becoming the local Blacksmith. Everson was trapped in the snow as a baby, and unfortunately lost the use of his legs.
The opening part of this story is rather intriguing as Everson and Quinn are actually older, and are kidnapped, tied up and interrogated by unknown people, and it is from here, that we learn about each of their stories. They are interrogated separately, each starting from the early years of their lives back in Cinti Mor, telling how Everson came to be with the family, and how they grew up. As with the Runes of Issalia, the book is broken up into multiple segments, and this first part, which covers their early lives, is the opening part of their tale. We learn before long that Everson has managed to get into Fallbrandt Academy. However, Quinn who doesn’t have Everson’s engineering talents, nor the magical abilities to get into Fallbrandt, has chosen a different path, and is chosen to attend the Torreco Academy of Combat Training, a new school that is designed to train warriors of Issalia for the future. In this early part, we also get to see how clever the Father is, he crafts a pair of braces for Everson, so that he can keep his legs straight, and with the help of some canes, he can walk. He also creates some other wonderful things. He shows Everson how to forge items in the Smithy, and it is here that Everson gets a passion for creating things.
In this early part, the two had some friends, but one of Quinn’s friends was Rena. She used to hang about a boy called Torney, who was a complete bully, and used to beat up Everson. Without giving it all away, Quinn did not take kindly to this. We learn early on, that Quinn is what can only be described as a ‘Scrapper’, and Torney, even though he outweighs her probably two to one, learns this the hard way. However, due to events, they become friends, with Everson actually helping Torney with his school work.
The second part of this story starts when Quinn and Everson, and their parents, who pack up and move with them, all travel to Fallbrandt, and start their new lives there. Here, we follow the siblings as they each travel their separate paths Everson as he enters Fallbrandt and begins to study engineering, and Quinn as she enters Torreco and trains to be a warrior.
It is here that the two make new friends. Everson meets a new friend Jonah, a bubbly lad, who quickly befriends him, and helps him in any way he can. He also meets an engineering student Donnell, who is a bit more surly, and a young woman, Ivy, who is very shy, also an engineer. Jonah is a Magic student. I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but it is quickly apparent that Everson is gifted, and has all sorts of wonderful ideas. Here they learn about ‘Chaos Theory’, and Everson comes up with all sorts of brilliant ideas of how to combine engineering and chaos.
Whilst at the school, Everson runs into Rena and Torney, who are now together. His kindness in helping Torney has changed the big man, who is now a healer, and Torney looks out for Everson whilst at Fallbrandt. Their relationship is something that is really fascinating in this series.
Whilst this is happening, Quinn has met some friends also. She makes good friends with a Tantarri girl Chuli who is an expert Archer. She also makes friends with a young man who is a 2nd year student, Iko. Quinn is a keen student, quickly picking up many skills, and learning to fight with twin swords (as it is the hardest thing to learn, and she wants to be the best). She has several difficult trials, run-ins with a huge bully who for some reason just hates her, but at all times, her pure grit and determination never falter.
The character work in this series is just exceptional, each of the characters is relatable and realistic, and you just can’t help but like them (even the nasty ones!!). Everson is just pure inspiration, whilst Quinn is nothing but grit and determination that makes you want to get up and just improve yourself (you seriously feel lazy at times when you are reading about her). There relationship is so powerful, just their love and dedication to each other, it is so moving. Quinn’s loyalty to her brother is extraordinary, her unending commitment to making sure that he is safe is just so inspiring. And equally, Everson’s love for his Sister is just as powerful. Everson also has this intense drive to learn, and create that is just amazing to watch, you just know he is going to change the world (and so does Quinn).
Together, these siblings are truly exceptional, and make for a compelling story.
As with the original story, the world building is just brilliant, every aspect of the story is so detailed, from the engineering creations, to the magic, and the intense (and sometimes rather painful!) combat sequences, which are so well written.
This is an outstanding sequel series to Runes of Issalia, and if you love a good Fantasy Series, you are going to LOVE this, especially if you loved Runes of Issalia!!
Book #2 – The Arcane Ward - As with the other books in the Issalian saga, this one is also split into a series of events that take place. In book 1 of this series, we got to meet the brother and sister team of Everson and Quinn, with Quinn being the fighter who just doesn’t stop, and Everson the engineering genius, who has even created mechanical legs charged with chaos for his crippled legs. At the end of book 1, we found out about ICON – the secret organisation that had been set up by King Brock to counter the threat posed by the return of the Empire.
With the re-emergence of the Empire as a Nation State, them having taken all of Vinacci and several other areas using the power of ‘flashpowder’ that was developed by Hedgewick and Jarlish at the end of the Horde war in the Runes series. Jarlish has further enhanced the power of the powder, creating new weapons with it, to try and counter the abilities of those with Chaos powers.
At the start of book 2 we get to meet King Brock and Queen Ashland’s children, Cassilyn (Cassie) and Brandt the twins, as well as Broland the older son, and Heir to the throne.
Initially the story centres around the younger Cassie and Brandt, and we see how they are not only highly intelligent, but mischevious as they are seeking something to keep them entertained, the education they are receiving not being enough to keep them busy enough as it is too far below them. As a result, they are sent to Fallbrandt, where they get a serious culture shock, as they are not the Prince and Princess anymore, just a pair of students who have famous last names. This is the first part of the story, as we follow the pair and learn about their childhood, as well as their induction to Fallbrandt. However, they are not sent to the ‘Academy’ as such, they are sent straight to I.C.O.N. – or the Issalian Clandestine Operative Network to train as either “Espion’s” (Spies) or “Gageteer’s” (Engineers).
At the same time, we continue to learn about Quinn and Everson, who are still at Fallbrandt, and of course, encounter the twins, along with the rest of those from book 1. We also get to meet a few new characters.
This is the second part of the book, and it is a really interesting, and quite fun part of the book, as we learn not only about the twins, and their abilities (which they have some unique and fascinating abilities being the children of Brock and Ashland), but we get to learn all about ICON, and how they operate. There is a lot of political intrigue that unfolds in this particular story as well. We not only get to see Cassie and Brandt’s story, but we get to see Broland’s story as well as he makes a new friend in Kony, a relative who is brought in to help him, not just socially, but with training as well.
I don’t want to give too much away, but as this book progresses, the political events that are unfolding within the story (as in the Empire having taken over part of the Kingdom, and threatening to kill all unchosen), has a serious impact on the two sets of siblings and their friends.
As with all these books, the character work is just exceptional, Kohanek does a masterful job of creating these characters that you immediately fall in love with and get so engaged with. The twins are just brilliant, these young inquisitive minds, that have so much untapped and extraordinary power, but at the same time, they are also unsure of their positions in life, given that they feel that they are kind of ‘spares’ as Broland is the heir, and thus they have no point? Attending ICON gives their lives meaning, and both of them become fully enamoured in not just the academy, but the other students as well (Brandt most certainly does with Quinn in about 5secs after seeing her).
We also get to see a lot of other characters in this book, such as the Tantarri Chuli, the niece of Puri (Cam’s Wife), who has become a Warden as well, a type of Ranger. This aspect of the story, this little band of ‘Rangers’ going on missions is utterly fascinating.
The world building in this story is just outstanding. There are so many different aspects to the storyline, so many different plotlines going on, that you just get lost in this world. It is not just the siblings, and their circle of friends. There is this political world that is turning in the background, moving pieces on this amazing board in the background (and Kohanek has provided this detailed map that he refers to so that you know exactly what is going on, where, and with who at all times, making the political situation so easy to follow). The in-depth nature and intrigue of this element of the story, which is so intricate, is just remarkable, and adds so much extra to this series.
Book #3 - Book 3 starts with a flashback to the escape from the prison mining camp that was the start of the Empire’s campaign. We get to learn about the different characters that make up the Empire forces, Archon Meryl Varius, her son Ikonis, General Kardan, Captain Sculdin and Sgt Mollis. We also get to see the follow up from the end of book 2 in which Kony, who everyone had thought was not only a relative, but Broland’s friend, and ended up being an Empire traitor. This has cost the lives of Brock and Broland, and left Queen Ashland fighting for her life in a coma, and the Kingdoms all reeling with the news of King Brock’s death at the hands of the Empire.
This is a book in which there are so many storylines running in parallel, some that are major plotlines and others that are just the odd little snippets into stories that are other minor characters that are operating on both Kingdom or Empire sides. Kohanek has produced this multi-faceted story that is utterly fascinating as it is full of adventure, political intrigue, magic, and characters that are fighting for their lives to push their agendas and causes, some in the name of evil, others like Brock and his Followers, and Quinn and the Ward all desperately trying to fight for freedom.
Quinn has been moved to the position of bodyguard having saved the Archon’s life, giving her unprecedented access and trust within the Empire, and allowing her and Brandt to supply all sorts of intel back to the Ward.
Everson continues to create amazing artifacts back at the ward, whilst working closely with Ivy and Cassie. Cassie meanwhile (without giving away too many spoilers), begins an incredible journey in this book, as she begins to really uncover the full potential of her ‘Chaos’ bloodline and what this means for some of the unknown powers she has.
Cassie has the ability to discover new Chaos Runes, seemingly just to pull them out of the air during visions – leading to her finding some particularly interesting Runes that she passes on to Brandt for experimentation (with some interesting outcomes).
We also get to see the follow-on of events from what occurs with Kony, and how this impacts Kalimar and Ashland. As a part of this storyline, we also get to see a lot more of Curan, Cameron’s son, and his character is just brilliant. As well as Curan, we also get to see Chuli, another Tantarri, who is the first to join the Fallbrandt Academy, but she is also chosen for ICON due to her exceptional abilities. Along with Thiron and Jonah, they become a Ranger party and set out on some thrilling missions that make up another sensational aspect of this story (no spoilers – but their journey is just brilliant!!)
Rena, Master Kwai-Lan and their party are sent to a small village to uncover another mystery that leads to an unsettling discovery and a difficult mission for Rena.
As well there are the Empire stories, we get to follow Archon Varius and her discussions with bodyguard Glynnis (Quinn as he alias), as well as the redeemed Jeshica. There is the plotting and scheming for not only the take over of the rest of the Kingdoms of Issalia with General Kardan and Captain Sculdin, but also the systematic eradication of anyone with the power of chaos as they see them as being evil and needing to be killed. In order to achieve this, they continue to create and use the power of flashpowder with cannons, and their new weapons (that I am not going to spoil).
The character work is just outstanding in this series, there is so much depth to all of the characters, these people are so real, with such emotional and psychological depth to each of them. The struggles that each of them is going through as they are fighting this conflict, you can feel it in the characters, it is clear in Brock and Ashland, but in the younger characters to. The evolution of Everson, who is lost in his engineering, but is now realising this thanks to Ivy, and is trying desperately to be more aware. Ikonis, who killed the one other friend he has ever had, and may have been more of a friend than Percy, and he is now struggling with intense guilt over it and wondering what is the point of all of this? Quinn, who even though she is working for the head of the enemy, actually likes and respects her, even though she knows she is wrong. The love and fear that Cassie and Brandt share through their bond, so worried about losing each other, and knowing they have to do all they can to save what their Father has built.
Around these characters is this incredible world building, all of these amazing locations, detailed on this beautiful map, but brought to life in such incredible detail. The locations in this story are just wonderful, and the comprehensive detail and background of all of the cities, the villages, castles that Kohanek has created are just remarkable, really giving the story so much realism so you almost feel like you are there, you could go and visit each of these places.
This has been such a stunning saga, from its very beginning at the first Runes book, to now, this is one of those series that you just can’t put down, you get so invested in the characters and the story, it is an absolute must read for any Fantasy lover!!
Book #4 – Kingdom Under Siege - The Kingdom is at war at the start of this book, the Empire and the Kingdoms under Chaos are fully at war.
At the start of this book, we are moved through several of the stories, we get to see Parker and Dalwin still locked up and awaiting their outcome. We also get to see Rena and those Wardens still in the village, fighting the demonic rabbits (yes, demon bunnies… Maybe they need a holy hand grenade?). We get to see Iko with his Mother, the Archon, General Kardan, all plotting against the Kingdoms. We also move through although parts of the Kingdom to find Brock and his son, alive, and plotting their moves against the Empire.
It is then we move to the various children, Everson, Cassie, Ivy, and then Quinn and Brandt.
The start of this story is like a very clever game of chess, as all of the pieces are slowly being moved around the board. The last part of book 3 was the opening moves of the game, and the initial pieces have fallen, but now the players are rethinking their moves, based on reassessing their opponents, and pieces are being moved into place for the next round.
And the next round is part 2, leading into part 3 of this book. I don’t want to give anything away for those parts of the book, as they are both thrilling and just exceptional.
Everything has led up to this book, and everyone is in this book as well, all of the characters from every book makes an appearance in this final book. I should point out, that you should not get too attached to anyone though, as a lot of main characters do not come out of this book alive. This is a brutal final story, there is a lot of combat, as the two sides continuously dash themselves against each other like 2 waves crashing against a rock.
Brock brings a lot of his forces to Waypoint, after he removes the traitorous Duke and Duchess from their positions there. It is here that significant conflict takes place, and we get to see the full might of not just the Chaos powers, but also the new Flash Powder guns that have been invented, from the ‘muskets’ to the larger and more powerful siege engines. However, it is not just the Empire that has been inventing, and we get to see some amazing things that Everson, Ivy and their team have been putting together.
There are so many character stories in this book, that it is impossible to capture them all in a review – but we get to see so much growth in so many characters, as well as see so many amazing aspects to so many characters, Quinn, Everson, Cassie, Brandt, Ivy, Chuli, Curan, Thiron, Kwai-Lan, all of the Wardens, the Empire side, Iko, Varius, Kardan, even Percy who is just so evil, you hate him, but the fact you hate him so much, speaks to Kohanek’s writing ability!
And of course there are the originals, Brock, Ashland, Cam, and the Masters. And just so many more stories!!!
This is such a powerful character driven story, with such exceptional characters that you get so attached to. I was actually sad when I finished this last book, as I wasn’t going to be reading about these characters anymore.
The other wonderful aspect to this story, is the world-building. There is so much incredible depth and detail. Every city and person are described with such intricate detail, you really feel like you are there. The magic is so beautifully described as well, it comes alive on the page, you cam feel it.
The other feature is the combat, which is powerful and gritty, but not over the top so that it is a bloody gore fest. Kohanek provides us with a good amount of detail so that we can understand how the combat sequences have played out, not to blow by blow intensive so it gets overwhelming, and not too graphic so the book can’t be read by a YA audience, but gritty enough that you start to hold the page so you can turn it faster as you have to know what is going to happen!!
Tim Campbell has a wonderful voice, very easy to listen to, with a very clear and concise speaking voice. He has a wonderful range of both male and female voices, and he does a fantastic range of individual voices so that you know ‘who’ is speaking without having to be told. Jeff Kohanek has written this with an audiobook in mind, so there is not a lot of ‘he said, she said’ breaking up the speech, making this a very easy flowing book to listen to.
Just as importantly, Campbell captures the emotional state of his characters with consummate ease, so that you really understand how they feel when they are talking (angry, happy, sad, frightened, elated), it adds so much more to the story, and Campbell really uses it to add such an extra dimension to the story.
This is an exceptional telling of the story, and makes this one absolutely worth listening to!!

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    4 out of 5 stars

worth a listen

slow in the beginning but ends well. good storyline overall.. 4* for sure..great narrator job.

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  • Kacik
  • 08-10-22

Requires concentration

Enjoyed the story, however found myself lost many times due to frequent shifts in the characters telling the story

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  • Poppey
  • 12-12-21

Epic

A well thought out series with good world and character building and worth every penny of a credit of anyone’s money. Narration was good and added to making this a very enjoyable book series. I think I will be adding Jeffrey Kohanek to my list of favourite listens.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-13-22

Fantastic Narrater

Great fantasy novel but most of all very enjoyable because of the narrator, Tim Campbell