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This collection of short stories had me laughing aloud one minute and gripped the next. Top notch. The narrator is very good - not so much that he overshadows the writing (as some of the top ones do) but a good range of voices that don’t detract from the great narrative.
So this is the first audiobook I've listened to since I was a kid that wasn't a Postman Pat adventure. Gotta say, I'm extremely impressed, I'm not really one for audiobooks (probably the Postman Pat association) but Lavender's stories kept me gripped throughout. Although I would describe his writing primarily as epic fantasy, I found Lavender's writing to be heavy on the black comedy end of things, and considering the kind of setting for this collection of stories it works awesomely. Humour is extremely difficult to pull off in fantasy, or in any book really, but Lavender does a brilliant job with Tales from Ashen Falls, and I found myself skipping back to listen to certain lines. My favourite was 'The Dove's Head Inn', purely for the banter and dialogue between two characters. In short, this is a collection of grimly hilarious little fairy tale-esque stories that, if you're like me, will have you giggling as you listen to them unfold. The quality of Lavender's humour and writing is astounding, and does a solid job of hinting at the wider world of his work. Also worthy of note is Damien Brunetto, the narrator - very professional reading from him, and it contributes to a well rounded product. So, overall? 5/5, couldn't be anything else, it's been far too long since a book has made me laugh so much.
Despite the fact that it is described as a prelude to The Eighth God, I chose to read it afterwards, just so that I had a good idea what the characters were like before I dove in, and I don't regret that decision, though it can definitely be read first as well. These stories follow either Melress who is my favorite character from the series so far, or the bouncers from the Doves Head Inn. Sometimes both.
In the first story, Melress and the Fading Man, we get a story from the point of view of a 7-year-old Melress who is kidnapped by a nursery rhyme character, the Fading Man, a man who comes and snatches naughty children. It gives a little bit of insight into some of Melress' abilities as a half elf, and just how mature and sensible he is, as a character. It also explains how Melress and Caw, his raven familiar met, as well as how he and Beatrice met.
The Dove's Head tells the story of two brothers who are the bouncers of the Dove's Head Inn in Ashen Falls. It seemed like a normal everyday night at the inn, and they were just hanging out and playing some cards when shenanigans happen! This was a fun little story.
Melress Investigates takes place when Melress is 13 years old and in battlemage training. He and Caw are wandering Ashen Falls when they stumble upon a body in an alley. Melress, being Melress, decides to help the investigation of the murder. This story had an interesting ending that I didn't see coming at all. :)
The Scarecrow was a neat little story about a man who calls himself the Scarecrow (because they scare birds) and his revenge against the proprietor of a certain inn in Ashen Falls and two certain bouncers that also reside there. The manner in which he attacks is interesting, and makes it quite hard for his enemies to fight back. Interesting story, with some neat ideas in it. Necromancy shenanigans!~
All told, a pretty neat little collection of stories. I may even go as far to say that I liked this little collection more than I liked the book they're based on. :)
I liked this prologue to “The 8th God” a lot. It is a fantasy novel with some elements of other genres, like horror (zombie children!), and an underlying wit that makes it a fun listen. The narration by Damien Brunetto is very clear and easy to follow. I am interested to see what kind of shenanigans that the brothers, Pock and Cock, get up to in future installments.