Review of Seeker: Book One of the Noble Warriors by William Nicholson

February 26, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - Seeker by William NicholsonSeeker: Book One of the Noble Warriors
By William Nicholson; Read by Michael Page
9 CDs – 10 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9781423318354
Themes: / Fantasy / Epic Fantasy / Young Adult / Religion / Magic / Science /

“Three Very Different Heroes, Brought Together By A Shared Dream”

An elite band of fighter monks called the Nomana (AKA the “Noble Warriors”) guard a garden on the island of Anacrea within which dwells “the god who made all things.” Seeker (AKA “Seeker After Truth”) is an extremely intelligent boy of sixteen. He lives on the island, and wishes to follow his brother, the improbably named “Blaze Of Justice”, into the ranks of the Nomana. His father disapproves and he is forced to apply in secret. Morning Star, a girl of sixteen, can read a person’s aura to determine their character and emotions. She has the same goal, namely to become a Noble Warrior. With her father’s blessing and a hired guard, Morning Star sets out on a long journey to Anacrea. The two applicants are joined in the application line by a unschooled but charismatic seventeen year old brigand known only as “Wildman.” Wildman too is determined to become a “hoodie” (his word for the Nomana) after he found himself and his gang defeated by just two of the Noble Warriors. Far away in the imperial city of Radiance, a plot is hatching which will eventually involve all three youths.

When I first started listening to Seeker I couldn’t place just what kind of fantasy novel I’d taken on. It opens in a classroom, with a student named “Seeker After Truth” taking an important exam and deliberately writing down all the wrong answers. Intriguing, huh? Seeker wants to fail – that way, he hopes his father, who is also the class’ teacher, will free him of his planned destiny.

Author William Nicholson is unusually sparse with description. The setting is a school, but what are the desks made of? I don’t know. Do they have electric lighting? No data available. It takes a while for the listener to settle on what sort of technological capacity these people have and it takes even longer to understand what kind of tale this will be. Is this deliberate? After finishing the novel I’m still not sure. This is Nicholson’s second fantasy trilogy, and he’s crafted a recognizably fantasy epic in an unusual form. Is the lack of visual detail deliberate? It may be. Nicholson had a hand in writing plays and film scripts before finding further success with novels. He wrote the film scripts of First Knight (the Arthurian legend starring Richard Gere), Shadowlands (a biographical film about C.S. Lewis), the Ridley Scott-directed film Gladiator, and most recently Elizabeth: The Golden Age!

What I am sure about is this novel, the first of a trilogy, is about the nature of religious experience. Looking at Nicholson’s upbringing and his career, his writing is never far from either fantasy or religion. And perhaps most interestingly, when the novel first came out, he offered a “personal challenge to the reader” – if you could figure out what the nature of the Anacrean god was, before book two or three came out, he’d send you free copies of the books. He said the Anacrean god “is something you can’t possibly imagine.” Intriguing stuff.

The religions of Anacrea (an island fortress) and the city of Radiance, capital of a vast mainland empire, are both monotheistic. Anacrea’s mysterious god is called the “all and only.” It grants its monkish priests special powers which I can liken only to those of Star Wars‘s Jedi Knights. The Radiance god is the sun in their sky, and the citizens there have practiced ritual human sacrifice at twilight for centuries to keep the sun returning. But there are no magical powers for religious practitioners of Radiance. Instead, the upwardly mobile middle class of Radiance concerns itself with commerce or competes for prestige by buying human sacrificial offerings from slavers. And the Radiance elite, who employ something they call “scientists” are developing a weapon to rid themselves of the meddlesome monks on Anacrea.

The novel is good, but it doesn’t stand well enough on its own for an unreserved recommendation. One of the aspects I quite enjoyed was a kind of a con-game played on some willing believers about four-fifths of the way into the novel. The ending, which provides some resolution, wasn’t particularly surprising or revelatory. Nicholson is a successful playwright and an Oscar nominated screenwriter. It remains to be seen whether the mystery at the center of this trilogy will be as big a payoff as Nicholson is claiming – he calls the Noble Warriors trilogy the “most important thing I’ve ever done.” I’m intrigued enough to listen to the second book, entitled Jango (also available from Brilliance).

Reader Michael Page, a ten audiobook veteran for Brilliance Audio, is a British actor who narrates well. His males are distinguishable, his female voices are too, at typically a pitch lower. At one point though, when we meet a roadside oracle, in what proves to be a funny scene, Page presents a character with a Monty Python-style falsetto. His rendition of the “Wildman,” a major figure in the book, is always filled with a fun bluff gusto. The packaging itself features the handsome paperbook art. Each disc does too, and each opens and closes with a musical cue which is handy for people swapping discs. Each disc has 99 files, the idea being it makes for more accurate bookmarking. But if you’re planning on ripping a disc to put on your MP3 player be aware that not all programs make ripping a disc with this many files easy.

Lastly, a quibble. They’ve spelled “Noble” (of an exalted character) as “Nobel” (like the Swedish chemist). This was fixed for the sequel’s cover.

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox – Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 003

February 26, 2008 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

SFFaudio Online Audio

“It’s sci fi. It’s short. It’s stories. Done!”

LibriVox Audiobook - Short Science Fiction Collection Volume #003Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 003
By various; Read by various
10 Zipped MP3s or Podcast – Approx. 5 Hours 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: February 2008
This is the third volume of reader-selected short stories originally published between 1941 and 1963, that entered the US public domain when their copyright was not renewed.

LibriVox - And All The Earth A Grave by C.C. MacAppAnd All the Earth a Grave
By C.C. MacApp; Read by Mark F. Smith
1 |MP3| – Approx. 17 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: February 2008
From Galaxy Science Fiction, December 1963. There’s nothing wrong with dying—it just hasn’t ever had the proper sales pitch!

The Big Bounce
By Walter S. Tevis; Read by Jerome Lawsen
1 |MP3| – Approx. 20 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

The Dark Door
By Alan E. Nourse; Read by Bruce Bell-Myers
1 |MP3| – Approx. 49 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

LibriVox Science Fiction Short Story - Gambler’s World by Keith LaumerGambler’s World
By Keith Laumer; Read by Mark F. Smith
1 |MP3| – Approx. 55 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: February 2008
This is one of Laumer’s “Retief” tales. Starring Jame Retief, the main character in a series of satirical adventures detailing the Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne and their interaction with alien cultures. This tale was first published in the Worlds of If’s November 1961 issue.

LibriVox short story - An Incident On Route 12 by James H. SchmitzAn Incident On Route 12
By James H. Schmitz; Read by Grumpy Old Squid
1 |MP3| – Approx. 12 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: February 2008
First published in the pages of the January 1962 issue of Worlds of If magazine.

The Repairman
By Harry Harrison; Read by Taras Shuper
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

LibriVox - Tight Squeeze by Dean IngTight Squeeze
By Dean Ing; Read by Jerome Lawsen
1 |MP3| – Approx. 35 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
He knew the theory of repairing the gizmo all right. He had that nicely taped. But there was the little matter of threading a wire through a too-small hole while under zero-g, and working in a spacesuit! From Astounding Science Fiction February 1955.

Time and Time Again
By H. Beam Piper; Read by R. J. Davis
1 |MP3| – Approx. 49 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

Warning from the Stars
By Ron Cocking; Read by R. J. Davis
1 |MP3| – Approx. 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

The White Feather Hex
By Don Peterson; Read by Karen Wolfer
1 |MP3| – Approx. 33 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

Subscribe to the podcast version via this url:

Go back and get Volume #001 and Volume #002 too!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Adventures in SciFi Publishing Interviews Jeff Vandermeer

February 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Podcast - Adventures In SciFi PublishingAdventures in Scifi Publishing has an interview with Jeff Vandermeer and there’s a segment where Neil Clarke talks about Clarkesworld Magazine. |MP3|

Or subscribe to AiSFP podcast via the feed:

Posted by Charles Tan

LibriVox Science Fiction Audiobook: Key Out Of Time by Andre Norton

February 25, 2008 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVox.orgFresh from the depths of LibriVox, Key Out Of Time by Andre Norton is book 4 in the “Time Trader” series. called the “Ross Murdock” and “Time War” series, the connected novels, explored Celtic Europe, and Ice Age America, in “a breathtaking synthesis of anthropology, archeology, and hard science fiction.” Wikipedia calls it a “pivotal exploration of time travel, as a method of fictionally exploring lost cultures.” Very cool. The three later books, penned beginning more than 30 years later, were co-authored by various hands.

LibriVox Science Fiction Audiobook - Key Out Of Time by Andre NortonKey Out Of Time
By Andre Norton; Read by R.J. Davis
18 Zipped MP3s or Podcast – Approx. 6 Hours 35 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: February 2008
“Ross Murdock and Arthur Ashe continue their adventures in Time and Space on the World of Hawaika. Hawaiian and Polynesian settlers help Ross and Ashe discover the way the world has changed from the data tape to present time. Helped by a girl, Karara, and her two trained dolphins, Tino-rau and Taua.”

Subscribe to the podcast feed:

Posted by Jesse Willis

Jay Lake Interviews Jeff & Ann Vandermeer

February 24, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

At Lakeshore, Jay Lake interviews Jeff & Ann Vandermeer when they met at the North Carolina Book Festival last February 22, 2008. Here is the |MP3|.

Subscribe to the podcast via this feed:

Posted by Charles Tan

BBC 7: Of Withered Apples by Philip K. Dick & Perelandra by C.S. Lewis

February 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 7 - BBC7This weekend’s offerings on BBC Radio 7 include a Philip K. Dick short story that was first broadcast on BBC7 in September 2003. It was first printed in the July 1954 issue of Cosmos Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine. And, in the middle of next week the 7th Dimension begins broadcasting the second novel in C.S. Lewis’ “Cosmic Trilogy.” Perelandra was first published in 1943. It makes an allegorical argument in the form of interplanetary adventure. Listeners familiar with the Narnia books will find a familiar morality play at work in Perelandra.

BBC Radio 7 - Of Withered Apples by Philip K. DickOf Withered Apples
By Philip K. Dick; Read by William Hootkins
1 Part – Approx. 30 Minutes [ABRIDGED?]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 7 / The 7th Dimension
Broadcast: Sunday at 6.30pm and 12.30am
More horror than science-fiction – A young woman picks the last withered apple from an ancient tree. Although this ensures the tree’s survival, the cost is horrifically high.

BBC 7 Perelandra by C.S. LewisPerelandra
By C.S. Lewis; Read by Alex Jennings
18 Parts – Approx. 9 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 7 / The 7th Dimension
Broadcast: Wednesday to Friday at 6.30pm and 12.30pm (continuing)
Perelandra continues the sometimes thrilling, sometimes mystical, but always sublimely evocative adventures of Dr.Ransom first explored in Out of the Silent Planet. In this second volume of C.S.Lewis’ acclaimed Cosmic Trilogy, Ransom is called to the beautiful paradise planet of Perelandra, or Venus, which is in grave peril from his old adversary Dr.Weston. Ransom encounters floating islands and bubble trees as well as an all-powerful female ruler, an Eve figure who undergoes temptation at the hands of a Satan figure in the form of Weston. Ransom must engage with Weston in a desperate struggle to save the purity of Perelandra.”

Each broadcast will be available via the “listen again” feature for a week after airing.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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