Author: Kyle Prue
Narrator: Jon Eric Preston
Publisher: Cartwright Publishing
Length: 300 pages/9 hrs. 14 mins.
Source: Audiobook Received for Review
HONOR DOES NOT BEND. A WILL OF IRON DOES NOT BREAK
VICTORY LIES WITHIN THE ASHES.
The Vapros, the Taurlum, and the Celerius: three dynasties bound by an ancient promise, and given superhuman abilities to protect the city of Altryon from the dangerous world beyond its walls. The Vapros have the ability to teleport and turn their enemies to ash, the Celerius have super speed and the ability to heal from any wound, the Taurlum have skin like steel and godlike strength. Centuries of petty infighting, have turned the families against each other, resulting in a secret war. A powerful emperor now rules over all as the families have been weakened by massive casualties.
16-year-old, Neil Vapros, desperately wants to become an assassin in order to please his overbearing father. After failing his first mission, Neil learns that a new sinister threat has awakened. This mysterious new power threatens to shatter the established order and the lives of everyone in Altryon – regardless of their family name or allegiance.
Protagonists: While a majority of this story is told from the point of view of Neil Vapros, a boy who wants nothing more than the respect of his family, this story has many points of view and while not all of them are the protagonists of this story, a great deal of them are. What I love about all of the protagonists is that they aren't these paragons of goodness that you can easily take the side of, they are flawed and their logic of this ridiculous feud between their families is warped beyond comprehension. Each of the protagonists grows in some way or another over the course of this story, it's a growth that's easily seen but not in your face and obvious. I really liked each character who has a POV in this story, while not all the POV characters are good, they are still well layered and it's easy to see their logic, even if it's not something I personally agree with.
World Building: One of my biggest problems with this story, I almost feel too embarrassed to share. This book takes a long time to get fully set up, and while, once it's done, it's a really fantastic world that I'm totally sucked into now and I can't wait to see what happens in it, it was hard to get into at first because there was still a lot of set up. However, once a certain event occurs things speed up and kick into high gear. There's a lot to this world, and while it takes a while to set up it's quite a sight to behold. I mean the synopsis for the story sets it up a bit, but as you dive into this story the backstory for not only the characters but the families as well are incredible. Even after all this story has to offer in terms of set up there are still mysteries it hides and I just want to know more and to follow these characters as they hopefully discover more about the world they live in and the feud between their families that has consumed their entire lives.
Predictability: Other than one very large twist that I was able to figure out from the synopsis alone, this book does a spectacular job at keeping the twists of this book under wraps. If you're worried about reading the synopsis and getting spoiled on something big, don't worry there's enough foreshadowing for that twist that even without the synopsis you'd still see it coming a long time before it's actually revealed. As for the other twists in this story, I'm sure there might have been some foreshadowing for the larger twists, but I can't seem to remember all that much. For the smaller stuff, there wasn't all that much that felt like and intentional twist, but more like a part of the plot to move things along.
Ending: If I didn't know this book was part of a series going in, I would have known it by that ending. While this story doesn't end with a heart stopping cliffhanger or game changing twist, there is a lot that happens towards the end of this story. There are still a great many mysteries in this world and I just loved that the author used what I like to refer to as the "cooldown" period of this book, after the final climax, to remind readers that there's still more that won't be revealed until at least the sequel. The actual final climax of this story was incredible. Since there are multiple perspectives we got to see what was going down from multiple angles and through the lenses of different characters.
Audiobook Notes: As I've said in past Audiobook Reviews, I don't really have a great talent for articulating my thoughts about an audiobook unless it's something special and the creators and producers go above and beyond or the narration was so monotonously boring that I couldn't help but shut it off. While there wasn't anything in the production of the audiobook, such as ambient sounds, music, etc. that heightened the experience, the narrator does a spectacular job at bringing the characters in this story to life. His narration is anything but boring as he does good voices, and really adds a lot of great depth and emotion into his performance. When characters cry it really sounds like the narrator is crying, or when characters have to cover their mouths while talking in a certain scene, that comes through in the narration. Overall, this was a spectacular book to listen to.
While this story does take quite a while to get fully set up, and the story can seem to drag in certain parts until then, once things start going they don't stop and I can't wait to find out what happens next in this intricately designed fantasy world.