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Story - 4/5
A great conclusion to the Books of the South. There wasn't as much action as in previous books, which has been one of this series' biggest assets, but what you get instead is a fantastic game of power, where Lady brutally plays the politicians, religious heads and faction leaders to re-establish the Black Company's power, and gain revenge on those who destroyed it.
I enjoyed the change of viewpoint in this story. We got so used to Croaker having a heart and caring for his men that having a cold and (almost) emotionless protagonist lead the company was quite refreshing.
The big discovery near the end didn't come as big of a shock to me as I think it was supposed to (although this may be different for others), but I loved it all the same, and I can't wait to read the next book in the series to see what comes of it. If you have enjoyed the books thus far, you are sure to love this one too.
Performance - 3/5
Although I understand the change of narrator for this audio book (the change of main character viewpoint from a man to a woman), I wasn’t a huge fan. Lady’s voice was dominant in the story, but we already had a good voice from Marc Vietor for this character, which I would have preferred them to continue using
Rachel Butera was good at reading the story; describing scenes and helping to build up the dark atmosphere, but some of her character voices were quite bad at times. Not all of them were awful, but some male characters were particularly bad, and it did detract from the story a little.
Overall - 3.5/5
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Since there is no other audio book edition of the Black Company novels, and I thought the others in the series thus far lived up to expectation (Mark Vietor has a good handle on Croaker, so how far wrong can they go.) I don't fancy myself a critic, and after all the audio books I've enjoyed (even some I've greedily devoured,) I'm a bit ashamed to make my 1st book review a bad one. I'm sort of hoping someone at Audio-Frontiers is reading. The book isn't, at least in my opinion, the strongest in the series, but it is still very good. That is, of course, a back-handed complement. When Mr. Cook is really "on" his books refuse to be put down and I can remember the first time I read the series sitting up in bed to 4am, "Work in the morning be damned, I'd survive.." Ms. Butera, however was a big disappointment. I could waste time on a flame, ( a reading of something like "the carnage was great" describing a battlefield - "great" being interpreted with relish like Tony the Tiger saying "They're Great!" as opposed to describing the scope and breadth of the carnage, comes to mind as a vividly cringe-worthy and toe-curling moment. I guess you could make an argument that is what Mr. Cook intended, but...) suffice it to say, I felt, that she came across as false and at times even bored with what she was reading. Mechanically manipulating her voice in reaction to words, but seemingly uncaring or unaware of the whole. It was continually jarring. She did have a few character voices that were subtle enough to be believed, and "rang true," but as the main character and narrator rarely fell into this category, they are not what sticks in my mind. (Unfortunately, there were also a few doozies that sounded like they were right out of a bad cartoon, and sadly they are hard to forget.) I'm sure I'll listen to the Black Company novels again, they are that good, but I'll either skip this one, or more likely pull out my old paper version.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
I've been loving the black company books so far, but this one... I think I'll get it in paper. This is one of the worst readings I've encountered on Audible. Mark Vitor does Lady's voice better than Ms. Butera. I've noticed this problem with several Fantasy books in Female voices, that Audible seems to think all women should sound soft, and a bit ditzy. Please hire better female readers, they are out there!
11 of 11 people found this review helpful