By: Craig Schaefer
Publish Date: November 11, 2014, Audiobook July 28, 2015
Format: Audiobook - 11 hrs 24 mins
Narrated By: Susannah Jones
Series: 1st in Revanche Cycle series
Impression: An epic fantasy full of conspiracies in close proximity. Everyone has an enemy, or one desiring what another has.
Pope Benignus is dying, and the man who takes his throne will hold the reins of an empire. Conspiracies swirl like shadows around Livia, the pope's daughter, who refuses to be anyone's pawn: chasing the whispers of a deadly coup, she vows to expose the truth and save her church from disaster. Livia has secrets of her own, though, and one wrong move could cost her life and her soul.
Felix is the scion of a dying merchant house, a man with just one chance to save his family and the woman he loves. His last hope lies in the snowbound hell of Winter's Reach, a former prison colony turned "free city" under a brutal tyrant's reign.
Livia and Felix have never crossed paths, but they've both been snared in a far greater web than they can imagine. They -- along with a pair of veteran bounty hunters, an exiled politician, and a sadistic coven of witches -- are cogs in one man's apocalyptic plan for revenge. A plan which, if it succeeds, will leave an entire nation in flames.
The family estate reminded Felix of a giant's rotting corpse, laid out under skies smeared a filthy gray.
My Thoughts and Summary:
*This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBlast dot com, at my request.
Felix is determined to set his families financial debts straight so he can marry his love, and not the merchants daughter he was arranged to marry that will save his family. He has a plan. According to old records, the dangerous free city of Winter's Reach has Alum mines being unused, and he plans to strike a deal with the Mayor to make money for him and her. However, others don't want him to get to those mines. Lodovico Marchetti is of the current family that has the control of the Alum market, and plans to keep it that way at any action. The witches have their own secret and plan to keep it that way. Then we have the church that is slipping into the wrong hands as the Pope is on his death bed. In all this a pair of hunters are out to do their job and working to forget the past of deeds they wish they didn't do.
Susannah is a gentle voice to listen to. She's done a lovely job with voicing the emotional rise and falls of the characters in the book and telling the tale of this world beaming with conspiracies. She doesn't do different voices for the many characters present, but she does pose different attitudes for each one. But she has told the story with heart. By the end of the book I felt I was sitting around a fire listening to an old tale, and wanting to hear more.
Where do I start? This is an epic fantasy with the many characters that are in play here.
All of these families are dangerous. They have desires and needs that they will do anything to get or keep in their favor. The lives of different groups of people heading in the same direction, though for different reasons. The political pull in the world is evident. Those with enough money and connections can make anything go their way. Everyone has their own motivators for their goals - love, guilt, lose - all the emotions pushing people to do more. The world not only has the evils of mans desires but also dangerous creatures and weather.
The Rossini family has no one to deal with, others are held on tight strings. Felix is to marry into the Grimaldi family to make a strong alliance. Felix has another idea. Winter's Reach. It's a free city now, but once was a prison colony where mines were built in the mountains, and is rich in Alum. Felix does what he wants for his reasons, but then becomes pushed to do more. And he decides to take new avenues to get what he wants.
Lodovico Marchetti... oh he's one we love and love to hate. He is the power hold in Mirenze right now. He makes the market go as he wants, and for him, as he holds the biggest Alum mine production. Alum is a mineral used in about everything. But, Lodovico has another plan in motion with his 'friend' Carlo at the church. He wants more, and revenge...
Carlo, Livia, Amadeo, and Benignus. They are all part of the church. Benignus is Pope and he's dying. The question is who will take over his throne when he's gone. There is discord among the Cardinals over this. Carlo, his second child and only son, is who is expected to do so. But he's not what we would think of as Pope material, and others think so too. However, he could be one used as a tool by others. Livia is the daughter and more than ready to stand up as Pope, however she's a female. In this world, females are not thought of more than marrying off for mergers and alliances. But, people don't realize she's more dangerous to their plans than they give her credit for. She is one to watch out for. Amadeo. Ah. I did enjoy him very much. He's a priest and one of the ones to have the most growth in this book, for me. I enjoyed his journey and how strong he's become.
I think the ones I enjoyed the most are Mari and Werner. This duo is a wonderful set. I love the care they have for each other. The hunters are not a couple, but more a father/daughter feel to them. Mari is a hurt girl. She suffers from PTSD from the death of her family and many of her home land. Werner found her and brought her back from the brink of the edge. Werner has given Mari something to strive for, and she does just that. She has morals to her ways and does her best to live by them. However both have moments in their past that haunts them, and could be a danger to them now.
Oh! I can't forget about the witches! They are cruel. The actions they take! Oh wow. Makes me cringe. We don't get all the dealings with the witches just yet. But they are here and we know what they are looking for, or at least Owl. I'm looking forward to seeing more of them in the future books!
The writing draws the visual world in a magnificent poetry, this caught my attention at the opening of the book. This is echoed throughout the book, usually at the beginning of a chapter.
I did find myself curious about the Empire here. We didn't get much in way of past details of coming to power, nor the relationship the throne of the church has with the Empire's king. There were a few things in the world building that I would have liked to have seen or learned more of, but I'm hoping that will come in the future books.
Everyone has an enemy, or one desiring what another has. There is always someone after another or another's material possessions. The different plots in the city by different people start to cross paths and collide as each person works for their own results. It seems the strongest of will and cunning will survive.
As in epic fantasy fashion, I'm left anxious for what's to come. Craig has drawn the world and characters to bring them all to this moment. Some are in precarious places and don't know it. Others are heading into a wind storm and don't know it. Some are expecting to create the wind storm. Oh I want to hear more of this world to see what happens with them all! Will the make it?