Review of Siege Perilous from the Mongoliad Cycle

June 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Siege PerilousSiege Perilous (The Mongoliad Cycle #5)
By E.D. deBirmingham; Performed by Angela Dawe
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 12 hours
Themes: / Mongoliad / fantasy / Rome / Holy Grail /

Publisher summary:

Ocyrhoe, a young, cunning fugitive from Rome, safeguards a chalice of subtle but great power. Finding herself in France, she allies with the persecuted, pacifist Cathar sect in their legendary mountaintop stronghold, Montségur. There she resists agents of the Roman Church and its Inquisition, fights off escalating, bloody besiegement by troops of the King of France, and shields the mysterious cup from the designs of many.Percival, the heroic Shield-Brethren knight from The Mongoliad, consumed by his mystical visions of the Holy Grail, is also drawn to Montségur—where the chalice holds the key to his destiny. Arrayed against Percival and Ocyrhoe are enemies both old and new who are determined to reveal the secrets of the Shield-Brethren with the hope of destroying the order once and for all.Alive with memorable characters, intense with action and intrigue, Siege Perilous conjures a medieval world where the forces of faith confront the forces of fear. Choices made by characters in The Mongoliad reach their ultimate conclusion in this fifth and concluding novel—and all of Christendom is at stake.

And so it ends. When I started The Mongoliad series last year, I thought it was just a trilogy. I had no idea what to expect with the series as a whole and with the idea of “group fiction.” I had no idea I’d be getting into a historical fantasy-type book (series) with a little mysticism thrown in for fun, had no real idea the breadth that the series would take. Now that I’m done with the main series of Foreworld books, I’m a little sad to see them go. Certainly I’ve liked some better than others, but this book, Siege Perilous, was a fitting and mostly satisfying end.

If you’ve read my reviews of the previous books (Book One, Book Two, Book Three, and Book Four), you’ll recall that my biggest frustration with these books is the expanse of story that is covered. There are multiple plot lines with widely varying characters across a wide geographical area. This makes it hard to keep track of who is who and what’s going on in any given story line, and made the books less “fun” to read. This book didn’t have the same problem. There were still a few story lines (3-4), but they quickly came to all be in the same setting; we were able to see the same event from a few different points of view. Without the confusion of the world and the various goals each person was trying to meet, since those had all come together, it was much easier to follow, and as such made the overall story more enjoyable to read (listen to).

This may have also been helped by the fact that this seems to have been written by only one person. Previous books in the Foreworld Saga were written by at least 3 authors. I’m not sure if these were group writing events, where everybody weighed into each plot line, or if everybody wrote a separate story, but the end result was a difficult-to-follow main story. At first, I wasn’t sure if E.D. deBirmingham was a real person or if it was a pseudonym for a group of the writers, but this 2012 Sword & Laser Google Hangout with the authors from the series demonstrates that she’s really just one person. She also seems to be one of the only women in the project, if not the only woman. I think the woman’s touch on the writing–the battle scenes in particular–was observable in the book as the battle scenes were not as…well, drawn out in this one, as they were in past books.

Plot-wise, this book wraps up the story of the quest for the Holy Grail. Early on in the series, it became obvious that Percival had visions and was on a quest of some sort for the Holy Grail. All of the movements of the Knights Brethren was driven by that. They met and worked with the Binders and the Shield Maidens, they fought the Mongols and the Levonian Brotherhood, all along their quest. When we left the Knights Brethren in Katabasis, the Mongols had been left to decide their new Kahn of Kahns, Ferronantus had died trying to preserve the Spirit Banner, and Raphael found himself talking to Leanne and Gonsuk to get the small sprig of wood that was important to the Spirit Banner and the Mongols. Back in Rome, Cardinal Vieshi had been elected Pope after mad Father Rodrigo was killed by Ferrens after trying to kill Ohseriweh (a Binder orphan). Ohseriwheh was sent away from the Holy Roman Emperor (King Frederic) to protect the Holy Grail that Father Rodrigo had held/used, and Ferrens became a member of Frederic’s court. This book more or less starts with that setup, and takes us along with Raphael, Percival, Ferrens, Ohseriweh, Cardinal Vieshi, and Levonian Herrmeister Deitrich. Through various means, they find themselves in Carcassonne, in a part of the Crusade involving the Cathars and an isolated mountaintop fort. I don’t want to spoil the plot, so that’s where I’ll leave it, but suffice it to say that the book mostly takes place here, through the eyes of these characters, as they struggle to find the rightful vehicle for the Holy Grail.

As much as I enjoyed this book, I did not particularly enjoy the audiobook version. The narrator for this book was Angela Dawe, a break from the previous books’ narration by Luke Daniels. Dawe’s voice had some quirks that didn’t work for me with an audiobook. Quite often, it seemed like she had an higher voice at the end of the sentence than the beginning. This made it sound like some of the sentences were questions, rather than statements. Her pacing was odd, too. There were longer-than-normal breaks between each sentence, the silence lasted just a beat longer than expected. Oddly, the narration didn’t seem to take a breath or pause when I would have expected there to be commas. Further, and this may be due to editing, there wasn’t much of a gap between section breaks within a chapter. This made it hard, sometimes, to know immediately that a new point of view was coming and would make me confused until my brain registered that there was a section break. I’m not sure what lead to this narrator’s selection, but I wasn’t as happy with it as I was Luke Daniels’ narration.

All in all, I’m glad I read the series. I actually will not be leaving the world quite yet, as I have a few of the SideQuest Adventure books and another side story in the world. I’ll be reading those soon, to keep up my familiarity with the world. I definitely think that listening to this book shortly after finishing Katabasis helped keep the overall plot in my head. To those who might be interested in reading the Foreworld Saga books, I do strongly recommend reading at least the 5 main-line books in order and in close time proximity to one another. Siege Perilous, while in many respects an outsider in the saga, may have in fact been my favorite, and provided a mostly satisfying end to the Saga.

Posted by terpkristin.

The SFFaudio Podcast #171 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #171 – Jesse, Tamahome, Jenny, Julie Hoverson, and Matthew Sanborn Smith talk about the latest NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS in audiobooks and paperbooks.

Talked about on today’s show:
Matt is sorry, audiobooks and paperbooks, The Mongoliad (Book 1) by Greg Bear, Neal Stephenson, Mark Teppo, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Cooper Moo, E.D. deBirmingham, Luke Daniels, Brilliance Audio, “speculative history”, shared worlds, Jenny appreciates the effort, Mongolian food yum!, Genghis Kahn And The Making Of The Modern World by Jack Weatherford, swordplay, Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig, Angry Robot Books, “our hirsute friend”, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose“, Peter Boyle, The X-Files, “I’m on team more please”, Counter Clock World by Philip K. Dick |READ OUR REVIEW|, Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday, “The librarians have all the power and they use it for evil.”, Red Dwarf, Backwards, WWII in reverse, time’s arrow, South Park, Dreadnaught: The Lost Fleet: Beyond The Frontier by Jack Campbell, military SF, Steve Gibson (of Security Now), “Gratuitous Space Battles”, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Battleship, Shadow Blizzard by Alexey Pehov’s website, D&D style action, George R.R. Martin, Shadow Prowler, is there a Russian Goodreads?, Luke Burrage, The Scar, The Hot Gate by John Ringo, Baen Books, Sword & Laser, Omega Point (A Richards And Klein Investigation) by Guy Haley, an angry AI, The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan, “don’t poke the nerds”, Farmer In The Sky by Robert A. Heinlein, collective tractor problems, Tunnel In The Sky by Robert A. Heinlein, Silent Running, bringing earth from Earth, Nick Podehl, “solar operas”, The Number Of The Beast by Robert A. Heinlein, a bloaty book, Sliders, lawyer world is our world, bickering about who is in charge, “sensual”, The Number Of The Beast Wikipedia entry, Amidala is Ozma?, Space: 1889, The Year’s Top Ten Tales Of Science Fiction: Volume 4 edited by Allan Kaster, After The Apocalypse by Maureen F. McHugh, Charles Stross, Robert Reed, Kiss The Dead by Laurell K. Hamilton, noir, Anne Rice, PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT (email Jenny if you’re an audiobook reviewer in search of audiobooks to review), Thursday Next, Jasper Fforde, Hamlet, The Unwritten, Recorded Books, One Of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde, Shadow Of Night by Deborah Harkness, a Martian day, Moon War by Ben Bova, the “Grand Tour” series, Kim Stanley Robinson, mowing the lawn while audiobooking, The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, Downton Abbey, Cranford, The Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman, The Secret Pilgrim by John le Carré, A Perfect Spy by John le Carré, Michael Jayston, AuralNoir.com (SFFaudio’s long forgotten clone), “it’s about ideas”, John le Carré as a narrator, Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Penguin Audio, Potboiler by Jesse Kellerman, Breaking Bad, a surreal chain of events, Kirby Heyborne, Homeland by Cory Doctorow, Eric S. Rabkin’s Coursera Course: Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, Night Watch by Linda Fairstein, A Game Of Thrones food, when is Winter coming?, Barbara Rosenblat, It’s The Middle Class Stupid by James Carville and Stan Greenberg, is that a speech impediment or an accent?, I Hate Everyone … Starting With Me by Joan Rivers, “You’re not the gay son I wanted.”, Suck It, Wonder Woman: The Misadventures Of A Hollywood Geek by Olivia Munn and Mac Montandon |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Newsroom, Attack Of The Show, Michael Caine, audio biographies, My Life by Bill Clinton, Bossypants by Tina Fey, 30 Rock, SecondWorld by Jeremy Robinson, On The Beach by Nevil Shute, Phil Gigante, The Stainless Steel Rat, Fatherland, Kop Killer by Warren Hammond, wife wife wife, Spider Play by Lee Killough, Beware the Hairy Mango, 19 Nocturne Boulevard, Fatal Girl (anime audio drama), internal consistency, is anime a genre?, Hayao Miyazaki, Tony C. Smith’s District Of Wonders network, StarShipSofa, Tales To Terrify, Crime City Central, Protecting Project Pulp, Lawrence Block, Lawrence Santoro is awesome, should we care about networks?, Mucho Mango Mayo (a new story every day), web-series writing month, Saki, H.P. Lovecraft, Jorge Luis Borges, Dis-Belief, cosmic horror, parallel universes.

Posted by Jesse Willis

New titles from Brilliance Audio and a Call for Reviewers

July 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Blackbirds by Chuck WendigWe received a pile of of new books and new-to-audio books from Brilliance Audio.  Remember, you can always see these the day they come in on our NewAudioBookIn Twitter account.  Sometimes a very furry audiobook fan assists with the unveiling. (Interested in being a reviewer?  Read through to the end of the entry!)

There is some good stuff here!  I am tempted to listen to Blackbirds despite already having read it.  It seems like it would translate well to audio.  I have an eARC of next Miriam Black book, Mockingbird, so maybe I’ll resist for now.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
Counter-Clock World by Philip K. Dick
Dreadnaught: The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier by Jack Campbell
Farmer in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein
The Hot Gate: Troy Rising, Book Three by John Ringo
The Mongoliad
, Book 1 by Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, E.D. deBirmingham, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey and Cooper M.
Omega Point by Guy Haley
Shadow Blizzard
by Alexey Pehov

Are you interested in writing reviews for SFFaudio?  We are looking for people to fill in some of our sub-genre gaps.  If you are interested, please send an e-mail to Jenny.  Include the sub-genres you are interested in (this list from Worlds Without End is a great help), and an example of a review you have written of an audiobook.  Linking to a review you posted in a site like GoodReads or LibraryThing is just as good as a blog post.  If you end up on our list, you would be contacted when we receive a title you might be interested in, and you would decide whether or not to accept it.  We sometimes get books outside of science fiction and fantasy, so you might as well tell us everything you like to read.

Posted by Jenny Colvin