In the second installment of the A Fire Beneath the Skin trilogy, Rina Veraiin has youth, beauty, and strength. She is a born warrior, able to outride any man, deal death with her fierce blade, and command awesome and mysterious forces granted to her by a set of magical tattoos. Now as the newly minted duchess of Klaar, Rina confronts a menace that threatens her world in a divine conflict that will push her newfound abilities to their limits.
As sinister and magical forces unite against her, Rina's only chance at stopping them is to gain new tattoos that will increase her powers beyond anything she has known before. United with her few trusted companions, she makes her desperate quest across a bloodshed-ravaged land while war brews among the gods.
With the enchanted world of Helva hanging in the balance, Rina must learn to wield extraordinary power to save herself and her people, before unimaginably powerful forces - and the savage fury of the gods - tear apart the land forever.
©2015 Victor Gischler (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
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"This is not a novel"
First, I want to start off saying that the first book in this series (Ink Mage) is amazing. A great 5 star novel. Wonderful world building, interesting plot, great characters (for the most part), and chalked full of fulfilled promises. This...I don't know what this is. A lengthy unedited first quarter of an unfinished first draft? There is no real plot (at most we're only given a small portion), no character growth, and absolutely no fulfilled...anything. I really can't imagine why Mr. Gischler decided to release this in its current state or how an editor could sign off on this as a whole. Don't get me wrong, this isn't the stereotypical, "this book has a cliffhanger so I'm going to whine about it not having a proper ending" review. I'm fine with cliffhangers. The giant problem here is that there wasn't enough story to have a cliffhanger. This ending was more of a: "plateausitter." We barely made it to the second act. Honestly, the best word to describe how I feel after 10 hours devoted to this piece, of writing, is: unsatisfied. I don't know if I'll read the 3rd installment; maybe after reading a lot of reviews first.
PS. Fiona Hardingham did an amazing job narrating, as usual!
VG has a great premise, working from the first book he does a great job world building and an even better job of producing nothing. as part of a story this entire book, the events and everything can, should have been, reduced to about 3 hours. then he could have continued writing the story this promises and fails to provide.
I really like everything about this except for its severe lack of story and based on expectations from the first book, action. Don't bother with this until future parts have been released, this should have been the beginning of a longer book that just simply doesn't exist. The publishers should have held back till the fruit was ripe, Audible should have held off till more was available virtually immediately. instead if I want the actual story I am going to have to wait an undetermined amount of time, and this just doesn't convince me the waiting will be remotely worth it. I wish I could give the story 0 stars as there simply isn't one to rate.
"Narrator hamstrung by poor story and production"
The first thing that could have dramatically improved my listening experience would have been a production value to support Hardingham's narration. Hardingham does nice work, but had no support from the production team.
When getting into what Gischler needed to do to bring the score up we get into a couple more issues.
1) This story is clearly intend only for those that have read the 1st book. If you haven't read the 1st book you'll find the characters blank slates, and about as 2 demential as you might get. Even after having listened to the 1st book I found myself growing to care less and less about the characters as they seemed more like chess pieces on a board than real people. Part of this likely ties in with my next point.
2) The story is all over the place. It's the end times and the gods are waring, the kingdom is on the brink of invasion from a nearby Empire, and the Duchess is trying to out maneuver the political machination of the king and those within the Capital. With so much happening the story rushes along at rapid speeds. Gischler tries to cram 2 separate stories into 1 and his work suffers for it. As I mentioned above I grew to char less and less about the characters because they honestly could have been anyone. Even characters developed in the previous book suffered from this. Many characters lost that special 'spark' that made them stand out. With so little development of the characters or story Gischler depends on the 2 story plots to fatten his word count.
3) Story isn't finished. I don't mean that there are plot lines left untied or it wasn't a clean end, I mean none of the plot lines are finished. There's no real sense of 'end.' It's more like the first act of a play that gets you invested and the breaks for intermission, except you have to pay for your ticket to see the second half and figure out what happens.
4) Invaders have an odd obsession with the main character. The invaders from the pervious book, the remains that got left behind, have an odd obsession with the main character (the Duchess). I found myself scratching my head why they'd bother with her, or use so many resources on her. There were far bigger and more important things for them to deal with, but they kept trying to deal with her. If it'd been an attempt at revenge I could have gotten that, but that was never established. Why?
5) The characters don't feel challenged. The Duchess never felt like she was truly threatened or over her head. I never felt like the challenges she face were actually giving her problems or that she wasn't going to be fine. This holds true for all the other characters. I never doubted their survival, no mater what the author threw at them.
6) It's never really clear who knows what when, how, or why. The passing of information between characters needs to be cleaned up a bit. For example the invasion was supposed to be a secret, but the kingdom knows. It seems like the invaders know that their plan to keep it a secret is bust, but it's never clearly implied or stated one way or another.
7) *Bonus round* While Gischler does a nice job in his descriptions he spends far too much time getting into the descriptions of combat. Fights seem to drag on longer than they need to, and I'll admit I skipped ahead (more than once) to get past the fighting.
While I felt Gischler's writing us subpar in this book in his pervious work, Ink Mage, he did far better. Characters were developed and felt unique. I wanted them to succeeded and was interested in the plot that he developed. Didn't feel that in this book-but I know he can do it. Gischler's ideas are solid and the world is fascinating. Where Gischler suffers is in the delivery of the his ideas.
Most certainly! I felt that Hardingham did a fantastic job narrating. The reason for the terrible performance score is due to the terrible production support Hardingham had. There were odd pauses within sentences that hadn't been edited out. There are also at times background sounds. Sadly these problems persist throughout the book.
Despite these problems Fiona Hardingham does a nice job carrying the book. I kept pushing through the story because Hardingham helped to breath life into these characters and drew me into the world with her voice. While Hardingham did a fantastic job, I felt the production problems caused far too many problems and I had to dock performance stars. I felt like I was watching a fantastic actress perform on stage with the lights and mics turning on and off at random times.
I can return it.
As for an actual 'redeeming quality' is Fiona Hardingham herself. Read my thoughts on Hardingham's performance.
"Ending should have been better"
This book just ended in the middle of a few story lines, sort of like a season finale of a TV series rather than the end of a book. It feels like the page count or time deadline were reached well before a natural break in the story. I like the book and the series. The characters and plot are entertaining.
"Good Story Line - WAY TOO MUCH SEX"
The story was really good, unfortunately I am not one for extensive sex scenes and in this book they continued to get worse and worse to where I had to delete the book without finishing it. So if sex is not your thing, avoid this book, otherwise, enjoy.
First of all, Fiona did a great job with her narration. I enjoy this series and where it seems to be going, however, this particular book (Book 2), seemed as if it ended in the middle of the story. I'm sure that the last book will probably complete the story, but it seems like Victor wanted to maximize profits, so he split what should have been one book into two books, leaving the first book incomplete. Well, the last book will be out soon. Let's see how the story ends.
"Not a complete book"
Book two is only but part 1 of a complete book that would encompass both book two and three. We come to the end of book two with all story lines unfinished and incomplete. I am enjoying everything so far but I have the unpleasant feeling of being duped. I will get book three to finnish the story but I feel a bit coerced into doing so. This will probably affect my decision sbout buying future books from this aurhor.
"Much better than the first"
I was not impressed by the Ink Mage but I liked the story so I continued on. So much better. More character development, more description, more understanding. I am looking forward to the next book.
"Excellent and Engaging"
Great story and greater narrator. This is but too, and yes there is a cliffhanger but that is perfectly okay since it is an excellent story
"Tattooed Duchess Great 2nd book"
Both the Book and rendering were very well done. We will finish the series.
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