Welcome to Fountain Reach. Ancient seat of the Aubuchon dynasty. Majestic setting of the White Stone tournament.
Alex Verus' (not necessarily reliable) reputation attracts all sorts. Most are plain bonkers. Yet there's one invitation he just can't refuse.
At Fountain Reach, Alex is perfectly placed among the noted and notorious to figure out why apprentices have been vanishing. But the tournament is a minefield of ancient grudges and new threats, and Alex can't afford to miss a trick as his elusive adversary stays one step ahead in this most dangerous of games.
©2012 Benedict Jacka (P)2014 Tantor
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"Definitely going the wrong way"
I read the first two Benedict Jacka's Alex Verus novels thinking the first one was pretty good and the second one was OK. I was hoping this was going to be a return to form but sadly it is much worse than the last one.
First thing to say is that the performance by Gildart Jackson is very good with the different characters clearly identifiable and the reading is clear and understandable so this review is no reflection on his abilities as a reader. The problem lies with the material he has to work with; this book is utter tripe.
The premise of it is perfectly good (magical apprentices are going missing, Verus has to investigate). What grates are that any new characters he introduces to the series are totally shallow and utterly undeveloped. Now this is nothing new in Jacka's books but usually there was some mitigation in that the main characters were interesting and developing as people. That development has all but stopped in this book except in one area and it is this area that proved the book's undoing for me.
The only thing that has developed is Verus's magical powers. This might not be a problem except many of the situations that he finds himself in this time are very simillar to the previous books; so why didn't he use them THEN? Because Jacka is making this drivel up as he goes along and has ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what he has written before. This lack internal integirity completely ruins the plot because every 10 minutes Verus does the equivalent of "and with a single bound he was free".
Once the willing suspension of disbelief has been shattered by this codswallop I then noticed all the other deficiencies in the book and they really started to annoy. As did the constant use of "gotten" instead of "got" and other US English words and phrases. Normally this would not be a problem for me, except he is trying to play Verus a being very English so it reads like a bad American author's version of English. If Jacka was a bad American author, again this wouldn't be an issue but he isn't, he is a British born, Cambridge educated bad English author.
If you are looking for something like the "Rivers of London" books try elsewhere. This author has none of Aaronovitch's pace and style and Jacka plays it all with the po-face of a depressed undertaker. There are none of the funny asides or little cultural references you get in the Peter Grant books. Avoid this hogwash like the plague.
"English or American?"
Not peppering the story with American phraseology throughout. I have no issue with US English at all, except when the author is English and the setting for the book is England and yet constantly uses US terms. To top this, the narrator used an irritating mid-Atlantic twang throughout.
I listened to the first two in the series. They were okay - lightweight, sub Harry Dresden style but a reasonable background listen. This third book in the series struck me as an attempt to make the plot somewhat darker than the previous two, but somehow doesn't carry it off. The slurpy, bloody bad-guy character who emerged at the end was just too shallow with very little development and just put me in mind of Voldemort at the end of the Harry Potter series.
Enormously annoying! I shan't listen to another in this series for fear that the mid-Atlantic twang becomes even stronger. Although the narrator pronounces words with an English accent, the intonation is incredibly American at times. Just make your mind up, would you? Do you want to be English or American?
I don't think that chopping scenes would improve the book significantly.
I've just about had it with this series. Too little originality (you can see where the author has nicked ideas left, right and centre throughout the story lines), not much courage or conviction with how the book is written. As for the narrator, enough said.
"Keep getting better!"
Really enjoyed this one. With every story you learn more about the characters history and the reasons that make them "who they are"
Great narration and good plot to keep it all together
"He doesn't do women's voices well"
Yes, Jacka is a good story teller, even if the books could do with tighter editing. There were many times I sat in the car outside the house not wanting to turn it off.He tends to use the same sentence constructs over again which is OK when reading the books, but jars when it is narrated.
Gildart Jackson does not do the women's voices well. He makes them sound all breathy, and permanently petrified which jars with their actions. Not enough to put me off altogether though!
"Am loving this series of book"
Excellent characters, enjoyable stories and this is a great example. The narration is perfectly suited to the type and style of book as well. Am alreadt recommending this series to others.
I like the way that it just drags you into its world, you feel that you are part of Alex's world and become friends with all of his friends and just want to learn more.
I have previously listened to one prior to this book and will indeed be buying more.
Nothing, his voice perfectly matched these books
I howled with laughter, these books are full of humour
A work in progress, trying to read them all.
I think this series is great. The narrator has grown on me and I really enjoy his performance
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