Altar of Influence: The Orsarian War
By: Jacob Cooper
Publish Date: October 28, 2014, Audiobook November 20, 2014
Format: Audiobook - 10 hrs 18 mins
Narrated By: Michael Kremer
Series: 1st in The Dying Lands Chronicles series
Impression: Fantasy where the characters grow into fine men and learn there is more to the world, and to them.
Sacrifice. The single act capable of bringing both death and life simultaneously.
Thannuel Kerr is handsome, young and brash, fumbling through childhood toward his inevitable inheritance: the next Lord of the Western Province. He struggles to accept his arranged marriage and to grow into the man he must become. The journey toward that end, however, is fraught with more peril than he could possibly imagine. In the remote reaches of the Realm, an unknown, silent threat is growing. The Thoulden-sha of Mari-shaden is gathering his disciples, those who have relinquished their bloodlines to the Ancients and embraced Those Not Remembered, a forgotten race that inhabited Våleira long before the Age of the Ancients.
As Thannuel learns more about his heritage, he begins to understand why powers that seem greater than anything the world of Våleira has ever seen are targeting him. As a young man, he and his beloved intended, Moira, will face assassination attempts, civil war, and foreign invasions that could tear the Realm—and Våleira itself—apart.
Sacrifice. It is what the Thoulden-sha demands. It is what the world desperately needs. To save all he loves, Thannuel will be called upon to lay himself upon the Altar of Influence.
The Thoulden-sha waited for the full first moon to rise above the darkening horizon with his knife in hand.
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My Thoughts and Summary:
*This audiobook was provided by the author at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review, at my request.
A darkness is coming to the world. The Thoulden-sha is also working to bring the Mari-shaden back to the world with his sacrifices upon his altar. The Thoulden-sha needs the blood of one clan to bring the Mari-shaden back to the world, however the young man who should be easy to catch is growing stronger and fighting Thoulden-sha's advancements. Thannuel doesn't know he's special and learns slowly over the years of what he can do, and his ancestry. Moving to save the islands that have been invaded by the Dark Marauders, Thannuel and the Arlethian army will face things they never thought possible and destroy the darkness that is present.
I really enjoyed Michael's narration of this story. His voice is strong and easy to listen to. Michael has a way of drawing out a few words with a roll of his voice. They are the perfect words in the right moments. It draws you into his voice. Michael performs slight character voices and grows with the characters age and attitude changes, Thadduel is a perfect example of this growth vocally. He also has accents for different locations in this world. I do think I could listen to Michael tell stories for ever. I can see why he's popular with fantasy stories.
The one thing with audio that I still struggle to get are chapter headings. In this book they feel important as there are years between some. It would be easier to catch these if I was reading. But, thank you Jacob, in the chapters you learn the age of Thannuel and Artious or the years that have passed as you go, so you are caught up with the years easily.
Jacob writes the story as the world is solid and known. There are hints and details of the world given in the way the people live along with the reason Thoulden-sha is after Thannuel. I appreciate this as a read because I do not feel there are major information dumps and the world is as it should be and unwavering in its ways and cycling. But there were a few details I didn't realize until later in the book, but it was added when it fits and explains things a bit more gradually. This story is a prequel to the first novel, so many people probably knew what the world was like in starting this book.
There is a touch of magic here. (Well with Thoulden-sha, more than a touch.) I love that the people we focus on here are of a wood land. They have their connection with the land, Valeira particularly as that's where the Light resides, and can feel vibrations through the land where they stand or feel. There is also a magic for healing from the Luminates, but the Light seems to be fading. The trees can even talk to them, though not in the same sense as we think of talking. The Thoulden-sha is a dark magic as his is granted to him from Mari-shaden and strengthened with the spilling of blood. There are hints of others touched with special talents here as well.
The story starts when Thannuel and Artious are young boys and grows as they age along with the troubles in the world. It has a Young Adult feel to it at first, but it grows with each character and chapter. I liked the set up in the beginning and had an inkling of a feeling of who will become good friends and help each other. Also that one is of a clan that will be in danger and need to be the person he can be. I was anxiously waiting for it to all come together, then fall apart for the characters.
I found I was taken with the people in this world. Thannuel's father is a good man and tries to teach his son well of the kind ways. Thannuel represents his father's ways well as he grows. Oh the secret that Thannuel didn't know of. And I'm guessing his family didn't know of! It's interesting what he can do, and it grows in the story as well. Then we have Antious. He's a wonderful friend and cohort for Thannuel. I get a kick out of their friendship. Antious is strong in his own ways.
The chapters are long chapters. Even in audio form, they are long. But we get a few POV sections in those long chapters.
There is a touch of everything in this fantasy story, youth, love, war, battles - on sea and land, magic, and strange creatures. The world feels strong and large. I enjoyed the creation of the world and characters here. I did have a feel of what would happen in the story, but this is set with a classic fantasy feel and one I grew attached to the characters of. I do hope to continue with this series and see where next they will go, what the dark trouble is that is brewing in the forest of light.