Recent Arrivals: Brilliance Audio: Legends Of Shannara: Bearers Of The Black Staff by Terry Brooks

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Talked about, way back in SFFaudio Podcast #074, but never scanned, here is Legends Of Shannara: Bearers Of The Black Staff by Terry Brooks, as read by Phil Gigante. It came to us from Brilliance Audio, and they currently have it on sale on their AudiobookStand website.

Brilliance Audio - Legends Of Shannara: Bearers Of The Black Staff by Terry Brooks

Brilliance Audio - Legends Of Shannara: Bearers Of The Black Staff by Terry Brooks (BACK)

Five hundred years have passed since the devastating demon-led war that tore apart the United States, leaving nothing but scorched and poisoned ruins, and nearly exterminating humankind. Those who escaped the carnage and blight were led to sanctuary by the boy savior known as the Hawk — the gypsy morph. In an idyllic valley, its borders warded by powerful magic against the horrors beyond, humans, Elves, and mutants alike found a place they believed would be their home forever.

But after five centuries, the unimaginable has come to pass: The cocoon of protective magic surrounding the valley has vanished. When Sider Ament, the only surviving descendant of the Knights of the Word, detects unknown predators stalking the valley, he fears the worst. And when Panterra Qu and Prue Liss, expert Trackers from the human village of Glensk Wood, find two of their own gruesomely killed, there can be no doubt: The once safe haven of generations has been laid bare and made vulnerable to whatever still lurks in the wasteland of the outside world.

Together, Ament, the two young Trackers, and a daring Elf princess race to spread word of the encroaching danger — and spearhead plans to defend their ancestral home. But suspicion and hostility among their countrymen threaten to doom their efforts from within — while beyond the breached borders, a ruthless Troll army masses for invasion. And in the thick of it all, the last wielder of the black staff and its awesome magic must find a successor to carry on the fight against the cresting new wave of evil.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #074


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #074 – Jesse and Scott talk about the recently arrived audiobooks with assistance and commentary by Luke Burrage

Talked about on today’s show:
New York, “your whole life is a holiday”, The Way Of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, The Wheel Of Time series, “the entire world is imagined from the ground up”, Blackstone Audio, The Shadow Hunter by Pat Murphy, neanderthals, cave bear, “a little cave dude”, The Ugly Little Boy by Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg, Robert J. Sawyer’s Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, shamanic or shamanistic, The Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, Urban Fantasy Alert, City Of Ghosts by Stacia Kane, the Chess Putnam series, First Drop Of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost (Book 1 in the The Night Huntress World series), paranormal romance vs. urban fantasy, spade vs. Spade, vampires, by , southern Gothic, Flannery O’Connor with zombies, the full zombie vs. the half zombie vampire, The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell, The Walking Dead by , Being Human (tv show), Dark Shadows, Hawaii 50, V, Half Blood Of Brooklyn by Charlie Huston, Stephen King, noir urban fantasy?, On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, Subterranean Press, Bronson Pinchot, pirates, magic, voodoo, Brilliance Audio, Bearers Of The Black Staff by Terry Brooks, Caviar by Theodore Sturgeon, Shannara, Audiofile Magazine, Connecting the Robots and Empire (Foundation) series, demon war, war dudes and siege engines, The Speed Of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, autism, Mary Robinette Kowal’s review of the Books On Tape edition of The Speed Of Dark |READ OUR REVIEW|, Luke’s idea for a paranormal romance set in the stone age, “urban cave fantasy”, Quicksilver by Neal Stephanson, audiobooks are being shaped to the length of an Audible credit, The Baroque Cycle, The Lies Of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch |READ OUR REVIEW|, “it ends in Gibraltar”, Penguin Audio, Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston, Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, science fiction, Zero History by William Gibson, Max Headroom, Elmore Leonard, great writing is not enough, Michael May’s Adventure Blog article on back of the book copywriting, taking the risk of writing only the keywords, Starship: Mutiny by Mike Resnick |READ OUR REVIEW|, Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick |READ OUR REVIEW|, Finch by Jeff Vandermeer, StarShipSofa, weird fantasy vs. new weird, the George Zarr talk (The SFFaudio Podcast #071), Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot a BBC radio drama, “if you’re 14 years old and you’re listening to this…”, fantasy women, Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan, Young Adult fiction, the The Ruins of Gorlan series, I Am Number Four, Battlestar Galactica, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, This Immortal by Roger Zelazny, Dune by Frank Herbert, Children Of Dune, Bad Blood by John Sanford, James Lee Burke, Santa Fe Edge by Stuart Woods, by Michael Kramer, the Richard Stark Parker books (Books On Tape), Ed Eagle vs. Eddie The Eagle, New Mexico, puzzling murder, false identity, lush and exclusive resorts, family, vegetarian, car, crash, human, not human, zombie, mystery, maggot infested corpse, brink of death, flesh off her bones, Dust by Joan Frances Turner, should be able to know it, OVERLORDS!, Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The Caves Of Steel by Isaac Asimov, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein, futuristic gadgetry, Snow Crash, Virtual Light by William Gibson, “the first really good augmented reality book”, The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan.

Posted by Jesse Willis

New The Agony Column Interviews

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Agony Column The Agony Column has a couple of new recordings:

Terry Brooks at GeekSpeak |MP3|

John Shirley |MP3|

Victoria Blake of Underland Press |MP3|

You can subscribe to the feed at this URL:

Posted by Charles Tan

Review of Magic Kingdom for Sale: Sold! by Terry Brooks

SFFaudio Review

Magic Kingdom for Sale: SOLD! by Terry BrooksMagic Kingdom For Sale: SOLD!
By Terry Brooks; Read by Dick Hill
12 CDs – 14 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781423350125
Themes: / Fantasy / Magic /

If you like a big, heaping helping of vanilla with your fantasy, you’ll probably like the flavor of Terry Brooks’ Magic Kingdom for Sale: Sold. Me, I’m a New York Super Fudge Chunk guy and I thought Magic Kingdom tasted lousy.

Yeah, that’s harsh. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all, etc. etc. But I have an obligation to review Brooks’ work for two reasons: I owe it to this website, and I figure I might steer away a couple potential readers who might stumble with tragic results into the banal minefield that is Magic Kingdom.

To be fair, Brooks can write, in terms of stringing grammatically correct sentences together. I’ve read much, much worse stuff than Magic Kingdom. I also have fond memories of Brooks’ Sword of Shannara series, which I read as a teenager and liked (although I knew even then that they were derivative of Tolkien). But I’m afraid to revisit Shannara these days, especially after Magic Kingdom. I just know its not going to hold up.

Magic Kingdom is the tale of Ben Holiday, a 40-year-old lawyer burned out with his profession and his life, having lost his wife to a car accident and finding no satisfaction in his work. While thumbing through a specialty catalog he finds a literal magic kingdom for sale for a million bucks and decides to make the purchase. The broker, a wizard, whisks Holiday away to the fantastic realm of Landover, a once shining kingdom now in serious decline. The land is failing and the great castle of Sterling Silver is tarnished because Landover has been without a king for 20 years.

Holiday soon finds out that he’s not the first king to try to ascend to the throne in that time, however. Far from it. Instead, he’s been duped by the broker, and learns that dozens of previous kings have failed before him, and were meant to. Landover’s peoples are bitter and disenchanted with the string of would-be kings turned failures, and Holiday has a fight on his hands to win their pledges.

But Holiday has help in the form of a doddering old wizard (Questor), a talking dog who once served as a court scribe (Abernathy), a beautiful shape shifting sylph named Willow, a pair of Kobolds, and a pair of hairy, grubby, earth-tunneling gnomes.

The biggest problem I had with Magic Kingdom is that this is kids’ stuff, but it’s not labeled nor probably intended as such. I don’t buy that Magic Kingdom is written for an adolescent audience: its clearly marked as “adult fiction” on the cover of the audiobook I’ve reviewed. Nor is its subject matter for adolescents: At its heart it’s about a man’s middle-age crisis, hardly the stuff to captivate a young audience. And because Magic Kingdom doesn’t know what it wants to be, it suffers mightily. I enjoy good adolescent fantasy lit–C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and Nancy Farmer’s The Sea of Trolls, for example, are terrific reads for folks of any age–but Magic Kingdom failed to satisfy my grown-up tastes, or my childhood love for good, simple stories.

Secondly, Landover as a world is completely unrealistic and devoid of any personality or charm. With generic place names like “The Greensward,” “the Deep Fell,” “The Wasteland,” and “The Mountains of Melkor,” Landover may as well be anywhere fantasy USA. And the way Brooks describes Landover you’d think it was the size of a postage stamp–two sentences of description here and there and Holiday and his crew have traversed the whole continent without breaking a sweat.

Thirdly, I didn’t much like the main character. There’s nothing to dislike about Holiday, but there’s not much to like, either. He’s bland and featureless. Holiday stumbles around most of the story, avoiding scrapes by luck or occasionally pluck and wit, but mostly because he’s “fated” to become king. He’s revealed as the chosen one almost from the outset of the story, so there’s really no tension or doubt that he will ascend to the throne of Landover. I also found his companions extremely annoying. The kobolds, gnomes, and even Abernathy and Questor resemble a troupe of circus clowns who are there to provide levity, a sounding board for Holiday’s questions, and occasionally bail him out of trouble, but do little else.

Fourthly, the underpinnings of the story have some serious flaws and holes. We find out that the evil wizard who “sells” Landover to Holiday is doing it for the money. Keep in mind that this is a wizard who has powerful magic at his disposal—and can use it freely on Earth—but can’t seem to figure out how to use it to make a few honest bucks. Lame. Brooks draws some extremely tenuous connections between the health of the king and the health of the land, an old Arthurian trope that is not at all developed in Magic Kingdom. Other than a few brief mentions of blighted crops, swirling mists and gloom, and some unhappy farmers, there’s no overt suffering, darkness, or disease, nor any explanations about why a king is needed to restore the land’s health. In short, I had no emotional investment in whether Holiday succeeded or failed in his mission because I didn’t find myself caring about him or the plight of Landover. By the conclusion of the story I was simply glad to see it end.

I could go on and on with the criticisms (the evil wizard allowed Holiday, a brilliant lawyer and a golden gloves boxer, to buy Landover because he thought Holiday was a good candidate to fail at becoming king?) but it’s like shooting ducks in a barrel. I do think there is an audience for Magic Kingdom, and you could do worse if you’re looking for a brainless beach read, but suffice to say that it’s not for readers like me.

I will conclude on one positive note: Narrator Dick Hill does an admirable job holding this mess together with a fine reading voice. His work depicting Questor and Strabo, the dragon, is nicely done, and adds value to the audiobook.

Posted by Brian Murphy

New Audiobook Imprint Available for Public Libraries

SFFaudio News

Recorded BooksEditor, anthologist and blogger John Joseph Adams points us to this February 15th 2008 press release…

Recorded Books, LLC, the world’s premier publisher of unabridged audiobooks since 1979, announces the release of a new imprint of audiobooks that will be available for immediate release to public libraries—Science Fiction. With the growing popularity of the science fiction and fantasy genres, fans are demanding more sci-fi literature on audiobook. The Sci-Fi imprint from Recorded Books features many award-winning authors, including Piers Anthony, Terry Brooks and Ursula K. Le Guin. Among the current releases are Now and Forever by Ray Bradbury, The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman, and Blindsight by Peter Watts. Recorded Books, which operates a New York City recording studio, employs award-winning Broadway and Off-Broadway actors to record some of the world’s most popular and critically acclaimed titles.

Thanks JJA!

Posted by Jesse Willis