Thursday, February 16, 2017

Audio Book Review: The Beast of the North

The Beast of the North

By:  Alaric Longward

Publish Date:  October 14, 2015, Audiobook Release ?

Format:  Audiobook - 19 hrs 28 mins
Narrated By:  Jay Markwart

Genre:  Fantasy

Series:  1st in Thief of Midgard - Stories of the Nine Worlds series

Impression:  Games played by nobles and gods twist life's of others.

In this medieval dark fantasy action novel we follow thieves Maskan and Sand in their quest to survive the wrath of a king. The Nine Worlds have been sundered from each other and the gods during the goddess Hel’s War thousands of years ago, but in the land of Midgard the years have passed relatively peacefully.

For Red Midgard, times are changing, however. The harsh, freedom-loving northern land faces the animosity of the mighty High King, but also a threat of war with its few allies, as King Morag is rumored to look for any reason to go to war with his allies. Maskan and Sand, thieves of Dagnar, discover a web of conspiracies to topple the king before it is too late, and soon, they have a good reason to tie their fates with those who would fight the king.

But not all is as it seems, and layers of truths and lies make the road dark and dangerous. Our heroes must navigate very murky waters of betrayal, elemental magic, love, and loyalty to save their land and to find revenge.

First Sentence:
A war was waged in the elven world of Aldheim.

Purchase At:
Amazon  /  Barnes & Nobles  /  Book Depository

Audible (*Not available now)

My Thoughts and Summary:
*This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review at my request.

Jay is a new narrator for me. How does he compare to those I've enjoyed? Well... Off the bat, in the prologue he was very flat toned. I liked the prologue story wise, as it's what changed the world, but Jay didn't feel to have the emotion to make it hit hard. The title for Book 1 was repeated at the end of the prologue and at the beginning of Chapter one. He almost put me to sleep. His cadence is very slow, so clicking a faster speed helped with this. There are a few spots where it sounds like the sound warps or changes then back to normal. It's brief and made me wonder if I really heard it, but enough to steal my attention from the story being told. I'm sorry. This narrator misses so many opportunities to liven up the story. And by the way he speaks, it feels to bring the book down to basic simple terms.

A narrator can make or break a book. I feel this is a perfect example. I don't know if the book was better than what I heard, but Jay breaks this book. Was he bored while narrating? I don't know, but he wasn't into the characters at all. So much so that I almost DNF-ed this book. In the end of the book, last 5 hours or so, Jay had a little more life to his voice. Shame he didn't try to do that at the beginning, and more.

I go back and forth on my feelings of the story...
Fantasy has a slow grow to it with great details given. The novel fits that persona. However, there is a meeting at a tavern that Maskan and Sand overhear. The meeting that seems as though it's rather important is done on the steps of the tavern in an alley. Um, if this man is as ruthless as he's said to be and in charge of one of the roughest gangs in the city, why would he do such a huge deal on the steps outside where anyone could overhear? This is then brought up at the end of the book, explaining this, but it still felt out of place when happened.

The little things in Maskan's life lead to much more, hinting at darker things happening in the world with the kings. There is more going on behind the scenes that involves Blacktower family and Maskan stumbles along and gets involved, his family too. Then we learn more and things switch around for Maskan.

We get the plan for what's to happen when Maskan goes in to the King's mint. Then we get the plan a repeated to us a few times. It feels like some of this could have been cut from the story to keep it moving along. Then again with a plan of Maskan with another, we get it a few times which is Maskan repeating it to Sand, I know Sand needs to learn but it bored me hearing it all out again.

It feels as the characters speak in short simple sentences and they don't flow smoothly from what's being spoken, thought, or told. I'm not sure if this is the narrator or the writing, but either way it plays the characters down to being far to simple to come up with such plans and ideas.

Maskan's instant "love" for Shaduril was annoying at first. He falls in love with her from the first moment he saw her, her beauty draws his eyes. Then, finally when Maskan makes mention of feelings for Shaduril, she doesn't shot him down but makes it seem as there could be something there. It feels sudden in the story. Is she playing him to get done what needs done? Probably, but Maskan is dumb in love. Then things seem to iron out between them and easier to accept.

Once the story got going, I enjoyed the movement and twists that happen. There is more going on that Maskan isn't aware of, as he is too trusting. When I think that Maskan has started to grow and learn that many can not be trusted, he shows how naive he is once again. I almost feel disappointed in him from time to time. Even the love for Shaduril grew on me as they had a few more interactions that helped.

I do like the connection to legends and lores of Norse Mythology. Something that makes the world full and creative with magic and history. We see some of this in the beginning, but not as much as the High King is working hard to make all forget the Gods. However, in the end this impacts Maskan's life and we learn a great deal about the Gods and why they are here. This, along with the twist to the story, that saved the book in star rating.

When we think we have all the twisted plans figured out, they all completely flip inside out. I enjoyed the twists at the end.


  1. I know exactly what you mean about the narrator can make or break the book. Great review <3

  2. I'm glad both the story and the narrator got better as it went on.


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