Reaching far beyond sword and sorcery, The Scar is a story of two people torn by disaster, their descent into despair, and their re-emergence through love and courage.
Sergey and Marina Dyachenko mix dramatic scenes with romance, action and wit, in a style both direct and lyrical. Written with a sure artistic hand, The Scar is the story of a man driven by his own feverish demons to find redemption and the woman who just might save him. Egert is a brash, confident member of the elite guards and an egotistical philanderer. But after he kills an innocent student in a duel, a mysterious man known as “The Wanderer” challenges Egert and slashes his face with his sword, leaving Egert with a scar that comes to symbolize his cowardice. Unable to end his suffering by his own hand, Egert embarks on an odyssey to undo the curse and the horrible damage he has caused, which can only be repaired by a painful journey down a long and harrowing path.
Plotted with the sureness of Robin Hobb and colored with the haunting and ominous imagination of Michael Moorcock, The Scar tells a story that cannot be forgotten.
©2012 Marina and Sergey Dyachenko (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"Rich, vivid, tactile prose, with a solid yet unpredictable plot—and an extraordinary depth and intensity of character reminiscent of the finest Russian literature." (Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review)
One of the ultimate goals for me in reading a novel is to be encouraged to think and reflect on various themes or occurrences and the messages behind these, and how they translate to real life circumstances. A standout element of The Scar is the story's realistic portrayal of human interaction and morality, in that there are very few (if any) of the "black and white" dichotomies often used in many stories, particularly in the fantasy genre.
The writers of The Scar have done a fantastic job of presenting this story in such a way that the reader's own prejudices and experiences will have a profound effect on the way he/she views the dynamic between the characters, as opposed to forcing the reader to distinguish between "the good guys and the bad guys" as is most often seen.
While reading through sequence of the protagonists fatal duel with the student for example, I was torn between disgust at his unnecessary killing of a less than equal opponent, and sympathy for the obligations bestowed upon him by his status, ego and temper which had, in a way, forced his hand. One question raised within the reader is whether it is the deed itself or the intention behind it which takes moral precedence, and whether or not he deserved the horrible punishment thrust upon him by the enigmatic Wanderer.
Johnathan Davis also does a fantastic job in narrating this story. His narration makes it very easy to loose oneself in the characters, events and imagery without any attention at all being drawn to the fact that the story is being read to them through an electronic device.
The Scar ranks among my personal all time favorites in any genre. I'm very much looking forward to reading the other two books in the series once they are translated and published in English.
"Highly, highly, Highly Recommended"
This was one extraordinary book, one that I could not stop reading / listening to.
While this husband and wife team have been writing and receiving awards for books since 1994, their works are, for the most part, in the Ukrainian and Russian languages. Written in 1997, The Scar is apparently the first to be translated into English and has only come to Western shores this year. While this is the middle book of a trilogy, unlike other trilogies, this installment stands quite well on its own though I hope that the remaining installments become available in English. I cannot wait to read them. These are masterful writers.
While not one for spoilers, I will only say that this is a book of the fantasy genre that, while there is sorcery and sword-fighting, none of it is gratuitous. While there is a great deal about love, there is not too much romance. For my liking, all of these were good attributes. The book is about great courage and great cowardice, self-discovery and redemption. This is a wonderfully rich and vivid story about our humanity, our psychology and the nature of both. For me, perhaps the most powerful aspect of the book had to do with the power of forgiveness. This is story-telling at its best.
When beginning to listen to this book, I was already engaged (but not engrossed) in listening to one and reading another literary work of fiction. I was becoming drained by the complexity and work that I had to put into both. The Scar’s simplicity allowed me to just relax and enjoy one of the more remarkable books I have read/listened to. While simple in its parable-, morality play-like nature, it still had the depth and richness of quintessential Russian literature. The characters are richly and completely drawn. The plot is riveting, surprising and unpredictable to the end. The prose, perhaps owing to the translation by Elinor Huntington, is engrossing, lyrical and poetically beautiful.
The narration by Jonathan Davis did justice to the book. Sometimes narrators are so good that they draw one’s focus away from the book and toward the performer. For the most part, that was not the case with this selection. The narrator disappeared and the book revealed itself in all of its beauty. I will say this, though, there are passages in which the narrator’s voice became possibly a bit too stentorian. That was a distraction for me but the passages were few and far between. I think that it was a personal thing and I will not dock him for it. He did a superb job.
Rating this book is difficult for me. Thinking out loud, I would like to give it 5 stars but I gave that number to The Brothers Karamazov. 4 stars might suggest that the book was less than stellar. I would like to rate it within the context of the rest of the trilogy because of some unmentioned comments but two-thirds of that are unavailable. So, in the interest of enticing you to rather than dissuading you from reading this masterpiece, my fine reader of reviews, 5 Stars it is. You will not be disappointed.
"Beautifully translated & narrated!"
Download this book for the sheer beauty of listening to it-- it's such an aesthetic pleasure the story hardly matters. I suspect Jonathan Davis could narrate a dishwasher assembly manual and make it enthralling. Davis's exposition is like a gently flowing sylvan stream beckoning the listener to explore its charming bends. On the other hand, listening to his dialog is more like listening to a dramatic reading of a play than a book, the voices of the characters are so distinct and read with such drama. After listening to this book, I checked out samples of some of his other narrations and found them good, but not nearly as entrancing as the voice he takes on for this book. More, please! The only downside is that his dialog is SO dramatic it often goes from a shout to a murmur, sometimes quite quickly. While the performance is wonderful, the extreme volume changes can create a logistical headache. Some of the quieter conversations, particularly involving female characters, required me to dial the volume way up.
I also think I have literally never read a book translated from another language that flows so beautifully and has such a lovely and natural style of prose. Translator Elinor Huntington did a wonderful job, and I expect she took some significant translational liberties with the text to ensure that flow. The language and phrasing is an interesting blend of modern and archaic, but always apt and never stilted. I don't speak or read a word of Russian, but I'd give an eyetooth to know how much of the credit for this lyrical beauty should go the Dyachenkos and how much Huntington imposed.
Oh yes, you want to know if the story is any good. It's... fine. It's a simple, almost fable-like archaic tale of courage, cowardice, and redemption that is a perfect vehicle for Huntington's wonderful translation and Davis's marvelous narration. I felt the biggest weakness was that the main character, Egert Soll, is not particularly likeable at any point during the story, He goes from being an arrogant jackass to a sniveling self-loathing worm, and it is never easy to feel much sympathy for him or understand how the female lead could fall for him, particularly given their history. Despite this, I was reasonably engaged by the story until the very end, when I felt the final denouement was fundamentally unsatisfying.
The Bottom Line: Proof that an "okay" story, perfectly told, becomes something much more than just okay.
I have been searching for a decent book since the king killer chronicles and i would put this book up there with those. well written.
"Put the effort in, you'll get rewarded"
The most interesting aspect of the story is how Edgart deals with his curse and how he overcomes it.
The least interesting is the authors' long winded way of storytelling. Sometimes it seemed like it took forever for something interesting or relevant to happen. All of the action happens in the last quarter of the book.
My favorite scenes are when Edgart has a swordfight/confrontation with the "Stranger" and the last few chapters of the book. Edgart's transformation or recovery from his scar is timed well.
This book was hard to listen to all in one sitting. I took breaks, reread some of the reviews, and stuck with it to the end. Many people said that it gets better as the story evolves.
The narrator Jonathan Davis was fabulous. He was the reason I stuck with the story, instead of abandoning it. His style of narration made me feel like I was sitting around a campfire listening to the tribal elder or tribal storyteller weave a tale passed down through generations.
"Crime and punishment"
Several people whose opinions I respect gave this novel high marks, and I agree with them. The Scar was originally written by Ukrainian authors in the 1990s, and has a folkloric, parable-like character that makes for a somewhat different reading experience from typical American or British fantasy.
Its protagonist is a young, swaggering nobleman named Egert, who’s quite skilled with a sword and at seducing the wives of other men, but has little real respect for anyone. After making a bullying pass at the beautiful fiancee of a student, he ends up in duel with the student, and kills the young man, who isn’t a very capable fighter. This attracts the attention of a mysterious traveler, who curses Egert with the affliction most shameful to him: cowardice.
At first, Egert’s reduction to a terrified, contemptible wretch seems like his just deserts, but slowly the authors get us to pity, then empathize with him. Driven out of his hometown, he discovers a crushing human truth: that everyone has problems, and that his are of no great concern to the world. Ironically, the only place that welcomes him is the university he once disdained, where a kind professor and a few friendly students take him under their wing. But, troubles remain: he must once again face Toria, the fiancee of the student he killed, and a mysterious cult that has its own designs on him. Meanwhile, the curse of cowardice keeps its claws in him, its cure seemingly requiring that he find the one who bestowed it.
The Dyachenkos’ level of artistry is impressive. Even in translation, the writing, imagery, and metaphor have a timeless, lyrical quality that make the world breath with familiarity and meaning. The central characters struggle with their inner conflicts in a way that's complex and has thematic depth. As with other (translated) Russian-sphere novels I've read, there seems to be some implicit commentary on the human condition, though I lack the cultural insight to grasp the full perspective.
The world-building is a little basic compared to other fantasy, but the universe that the Dyachenkos create has enough colorful bits that I'd be glad to visit again (apparently, they’ve set other books in it). I enjoyed the dramatic conclusion, which offers a chance at redemption to Egert, though not without cost to him, Toria, and other characters, and left me contemplating the differences between simple fear and true moral cowardice. I thought there were also good questions about how bad experiences, even deeply regrettable ones, can lead to purpose that might not have been found otherwise.
While The Scar isn't quite complex enough to break out of its fairy-tale-for-grownups mold, it's very good, and I'd recommend it to fans of Patrick Rothfuss, Gene Wolfe, and Paolo Bacigalupi's The Alchemist. I should also mention that I've gotten to be a fan of audiobook narrator Jonathan Davis, who has read for several of the aforementioned authors, and has a languid, almost hypnotic, yet expressive voice that I consider an excellent fit for fantasy-that-gets-you-to-think. In fact, I have a hard time separating his performance from several books I've enjoyed in the recent past.
"Its beauty lies in its simplicity"
In my opinion ???The Scar??? is a beautiful gripping fairy tale. It has a simple storyline with very subtle twists at exactly the right places. The themes of love and hate, valour and cowardice, curses and blessings, vengeance and forgiveness, integrity and falsehood is woven in an integrate pattern of beautiful storytelling.
I enjoyed how Sergey Dyachenko and Marina Dyachenko used metaphors and similes to describe the life experiences of the main character Egert. I caught myself every now and then thinking, ???This description or that way of saying something is spot on.??? I couldn???t help myself to rewind to listen again to some of the ???ear candy??? in this book.
The story is woven around a man called Egert. The tremendous development that Egart undergoes through the story kept me spellbound for hours. It felt very authentic. I liked the fact that the authors didn???t rush to resolve tensions in the story. Instead, the story builds up to grant finale that satisfy the listener. It makes you hope that there will be a sequel to this book.
Where books in the English world tend to have more complicated plots, ???The Scar???s??? beauty lies in its simplicity. It???s an unpolluted minimalistic gem.
I am pleasantly surprised on how well Jonathan Davis narrated the book. I???ve listened to him narrating a Political Science book previously. It would have said that it is the same person. Here he comes to right.
This book comes highly recommended! If you are looking for good storytelling, a gripping story with subtle twists, don???t hesitate to buy ???The Scar.??? Be warned, you might not want to stop listening until you???ve finished the story.
"A fantastic of the struggle for redemption"
I would rank it as an 8 out of 10: it was not as entertaining as some books, but its deeper points really struck home. It is not exactly a light read, and many of the scenes were difficult to listen to because of the heartrending situations. I strongly recommend it for anyone interested in a story dealing with concepts of morality as opposed to just an entertaining page turner.
Jonathan Davis really brings to life the emotions of Egert: his pride, exhuberance, anguish, and hopelessness as the scene requires. He does an excellent job over the full range required, and adds a significant depth to the scenes.
This book was not as difficult as some to put down simply because there were some significant lulls in the story. It isn't all action like the more entertaining page-turners, however, that doesn't detract from the true quality of the story.
"Ukranian Fantasy at it's finest..."
The novel is ver distinct in it's approach to tell a modern fantasy tale. The authors' approach is psychological in nature and adds a lot to the suspense of the book. The entire read has a foreboding feel that things will not end well. I'm not saying that it doesn't end well, the authors just do a great job of creating a real sense of peril for our protagonist. Also, I like that we dislike (or possibly even loathe, depending on the reader) the protagonist. Egert is brash, egotisitcal, and dispassionate. So why read about him? At first this may be a problem for some readers, but the cockiness of Egert is the reason that his fall from grace is so very powerful. We learn to feel real sympathy for him and along the way even like the guy. That is the work of a true story teller. So, if you're preparing to read this, prepare ot be manipulated...and love every minute of it.
Although the main Character, Egert is not my favorite character. I really like Toria. She is a strong female lead and not a stereotype, who is passionate. The hatred she holds for Egert when he arrives at the college is true and we (the reader) are pulled into her compassion when she actually forgives him. I also liked the Wanderer, but that is merely for the attraction I have for powerful, mysterious people in Fantasy fiction. (call it a short coming if you will...)
Jonathan Davis does a decent job. His job is made hard because of the text. You see, since this was originally written in Russian, the prose is different. There is much more telling here than there would be in any American book. This is the ONLY hiccup I had while listening. We are TOLD that Egert doesn't fear death. We are told a lot of things at times which almost makes it feel like an exposition, at least at first. I attribute this to the translation. (I typically don't enjoy translated books) The translator in this case, however, did a REMARKABLE job in maintaining the almost poetic prose. Still the odd way of telling the story does get in the way of the narration at times. But as the book progresses, the story is told so well that it all fades into the background. At first, however, you will definitely notice this exposition feel of which I'm referring. Still the narrator handles the book well.
Come on this isn't fair question... If I say "YES" then the male reader disregard the book as melodrama. If I say "NO" then I'm implying that the emotions the author strived for are missing. I will be honest, then. No, I did not have an extreme reaction. I don't remember chuckling at any point, but it is possible I'm not remembering. I definitely did not cry, but the list of books that actually made me cry is VERY short indeed. (I could name them, but I won't) THe story does a good job of relaying emotion, regardless of my reaction.
I really hesitated picking this up because of the fact that it was a translated piece of fiction. I rarely enjoy such books. For example, Battle Royale is supposed to be an awesome read, but I couldn't get into it due to the prose. (I tried reading it not listening to it) The wording just pulled me out of the fiction.
BUT, this is NOT the case here. THis book reads/listens well due to the skill of both the original authors as well as the translator. I couldn't believe some of the beautiful prose that was left in tact after translation. Still, there is a hiccup, especially at the begining when the narration feels more like expositions. (there is another rough section about 3/4 of the way through after a major plot point is reached, but it is over soon enough) I mention this here to explain my 4 star rating instead of 5. I also mention it becasue I want to let listeners know that the read gets better after a shakey start. I use the term shakey very loosely here to explain that the prose isn't perfect at first.
Overall, a GREAT read. I am very happy that I read it. So happy that I went out downloaded the only other translated piece of fiction that I could find from these authors (called the Burnt Tower and available on the Kindle for free last time I checked). Enjoy this!
"a different twist"
I would listen again if only to hear the narrator. You can get lost in the story with his talent.
The story reads like an adult fable and fantasy adventure.
Egerts dual with Dynar(?). after which you can't decide if you are disgusted with him, pity him or are sympathetic to his story.
he can really paint a picture of characters and situations with his inflections. he draws you into the story as if you were an eyewitness to the events.
Just kept me listening, and entertained.
"a truly outstanding novel. a notable performance"
The story and the reader are outstanding. this is a story that has true meaning in todays world
"An unusual and compelling fantasy"
This is a very well told and extremely well read story about overcoming fear, a parable about the terrors we all face and the consequences of giving in to them.
While retaining many of the common fantasy tropes, the story avoids cliche and gives it's characters real inner lives. I enjoyed this from beginning to end, rarely less than engrossed.
I hope there are more books available from these excellent authors.
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