Themes: / fantasy / orphan / servant /
A devastating plague continues to rage through the land of Muirwood, and all hope is laid at the feet of the young woman Lia. Called as a magical protector, Lia volunteers to embark on one last quest to rescue the knight-maston Colvin – her great love – and his pupil, the alleged heir to the fallen kingdom of Pry-Ree. Undaunted by injuries, Lia sets off across land and sea warning the kingdom of the great plague that is upon them. The arduous journey leads her to the doors of Dochte Abbey, where her friends are supposedly held. However, a fallen enemy lies in wait for Lia, as well as an unbearable new truth. The revelation will pit Lia’s deepest desires against the fate of her enchanted world.
I finished this in the course of the weekend. This was partly due to various chores and activities I had to finish that allowed me the opportunity to get extra listening in, and partly due to my desire to finish the story. While I found it enjoyable, it’s ending was mostly predictable, and I didn’t think it was as strong as the previous novel.
One of the aspects of all the books in this trilogy that I didn’t hit upon in my previous reviews is the heavy use of Christian allegory. A key concept to the series is that your ability to channel “the Medium” is largely related to your belief in it. This relates to the notion of giving your will over to that of the Medium and faith that it will protect and bless you if you do so. Many of the abilities of the medium may only be used to the benefit of others and not oneself. There is also a large theme of life after death, and resurrection of the dead. While these themes are present throughout the whole trilogy, they weren’t as much at the forefront as they were in this book. The plot of this novel largely revolves around testing the main character Lea’s faith in the Medium.
I’m reluctant to throw out the term “Deus ex Machina” because I feel that all the events fall within the explained abilities of the Medium. Someone who is strong with it would be able to perform those actions, however I could see someone making a good case for it.
Overall, I think Mr. Wheeler does a good job of wrapping things up with a neat bow. There is certainly room for future stories in the world of Muirwood; the author’s note indicated he has a novella called Maia taking place many years after this trilogy available on his website.
Ms. Rudd is once again the narrator for the third and final book of the trilogy. As with the previous two, she a good, but not great reader with little variety in her character voices. She does attempt to do some accents for a few of the characters, but many of them sounded the same to me.
Review by Rob Zak.
Themes: / fantasy / orphan / servant /
The Wretched of Muirwood, the opening novel in the Muirwood Trilogy, is the tale of the orphan Lia — who is part of a pariah caste known only as the “wretched,” a people unloved, unwanted, and destined to a life of servitude. Forbidden to read or write, and forced to slave away in the Abbey kitchen, Lia is all but resigned to her fate. But when an injured squire named Colvin is abandoned at the Abbey kitchen, opportunity arises, and Lia conspires to hide Colvin and change her life forever… Her plan becomes a perilous one when a nefarious sheriff starts a manhunt for Colvin, and the land is torn by a treacherous war between a ruthless king and a rebel army. Ominous and illuminating, Lia sets out on an epic quest for freedom with hopes to unravel the secrets of her concealed past.
Apart from picking a girl to center the story around, this book follows many of the common fantasy tropes including the “young unknown thrust into adventure to discover they are more than they realize.”
The world Mr. Wheeler has created is one where no matter your station (King or Innkeeper) knowing your family line is VERY important. So much so that they distinguish between normal Orphans and Wretcheds (Orphans whose parentage is unknown). Wretched are often abandoned to the various Abbey’s around the world and sheltered until they turn 18, at which point they must make their way in the world. Wretched’s take their last names from their assigned role. Our protagonist, Lia Cook, a young girl of 13, has been assigned to work in the kitchens. In particular, she is assigned to smaller of two kitchens, which serves the head of the Abbey, referred to as the Aldermaston.
Lea wants nothing more in life than to become a learner and to gain the ability to read and write. As a wretched however, this is denied to her. One night, a knight comes pounding on the door seeking help for his young squire, and Lea’s life is changed, forever. The rest of the story pretty much follows in a fairly cookie-cutter fashion. It’s a short book, so there isn’t a lot of world building. We learn things as Lea does.
This is the first book I’ve read by Mr. Wheeler. His writing style doesn’t jump out at me as exceptional, but it is well done. His characters have reasonable depth for such a short book and varying personalities. The magic system feels original to me, based on various statues referred to as “Leerings” by commoners, or Gargoyles by the learned. They are carved for a specific action based on an element (water, fire, etc) and are meant as a focus to use “The Medium”. The ending is a bit predictable, but as this is rather short story, I still found it enjoyable and have already jumped into the second book.
This is the first book I’ve listened to read by Kate Rudd. Ms. Rudd is a good reader, but nothing spectacular. She does voices for some of the Male characters, but seemed to read all the female characters in her own voice. She has a clear and pleasant sounding voice, but I didn’t find her performance to add anything extra to the book as I have with other readers.
Overall, this is a decent fantasy story. Quick and easy reading. Nothing especially great, but has me interested enough to jump right into book 2.
Review by Rob Zak.
Filed under: Audio Drama, New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals
Talked about on today’s show:
Recent arrivals first, here’s Jenny’s list, Harry Harrison’s Deathworld, Speculative! Brilliance audiobooks (from public domain works), “he’s super clear”, author of Make Room! Make Room! (aka Soylent Green), Planet Of The Damned, “nice font”, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Telling is in the Hanish Cycle, the out of print Harlan Ellison version of A Wizard of Earthsea, The Lathe Of Heaven and the PBS TV-movie with Bruce Davidson (trailer), Work Of The Devil by Katherine Amt Hanna, “the devil has no time for long novels”, Joe Hill’s Horns and In The Tall Grass (with Stephen King), Philip K. Dick’s Vulcan’s Hammer, similar to Colossus: The Forbin Project (film), “goes Skynet on your ass”, The Game-Players Of Titan has slug aliens, good names for bands, Time Out Of Joint, Tears In Rain by Rosa Montera is inspired by Blade Runner (it has a female Rutger Hauer), translated from Spanish, The Woodcutter by Kate Danley has fairy tale characters, Beowulf, Jeff Wheeler’s Legends Of Muirwood series released all at once, House Of Cards is a great British show, Dead Spots by Scarlett Bernard sounds like one of those Lifetime movies, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke has a disturbing android romance, ewww!, Tam knows who Steven Erikson is (Forge Of Darkness), re-read of the Malazan series, we need urban fantasy and military SF people, Tenth Of December by George Saunders, prefers short stories, on Colbert, Vampires In The Lemon Grove by Karen Russell, her novel Swamplandia has been optioned by HBO, New releases start, Poe Must Die by Marc Olden, Ben Bova’s Farside comes out soon (hard SF), narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Stefan’s Fantastic Imaginings, where’s James P. Hogan’s Inherit The Earth?, the movie Frequency didn’t star Kevin Bacon, the entire X Minus One radio drama run, short story audio collections having chapters and a table of contents, Star Wars audiobooks with enhanced sound, Bryce’s review of Star Wars: Scoundrels, more Star Trek novel audio books, more classic sf, Leigh Brackett, Jerry Pournelle, Harlan Ellison, Arthur C. Clarke, George R.R. Martin, “you’re welcome, Audible”, The Mad Scientist’s Guide To World Domination by John Joseph Adams, short fiction is back, Olaf Stapelton, like a science fiction The Silmarillion, SF Crossing The Gulf podcast will discuss Olaf Stapledon and others, Mary Doria Russell, where’s the audio version of Karen Lord’s The Best Of All Possible Worlds? (actually it came out the same day as the print version), Jenny loved it, what is the Candide connection Karen?, indie Scifi Arizona author Michael McCollum on Audible (Steve Gibson approved), the Audible Feb2013 Win-Win $4.95 sale, get the first in a series cheap, Sharon Shinn’s Archangel Samaria series, Image Comics’s first issue sale, The Red Panda audio drama becomes a comic (cover), John Scalzi’s The Human Division serial, wish science fiction authors in TV series, George R.R. Martin to develop more shows for HBO, football jerseys vs Star Trek uniforms.
Posted by Tamahome