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The Hidden Masters of Marandur

The Pillars of Reality, Book 2
Narrated by: MacLeod Andrews
Series: The Pillars of Reality, Book 2
Length: 13 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (44 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

It's book two of The Pillars of Reality, the exciting epic fantasy series written exclusively for Audible by New York Times best-selling author Jack Campbell!

Someone wants to kill Mari, a young steam mechanic in the guild that controls all technology. She has learned that her world of Dematr is headed for a catastrophe that will destroy civilization and that mages really can alter reality for short periods. Someone also wants to kill Alain, a young mage who has learned that mechanics are not frauds, as his guild teaches, and that mechanic Mari is the only person who can prevent the oncoming disaster.

Narrowly escaping death, the mechanic and the mage stay alive thanks to their combined skills, an alliance never before seen. But it becomes clear that both of their guilds, the most powerful forces in the world, are trying to destroy them. Other powers, like the great empire and a mysterious secret order, also seek to kill or capture them using every weapon from imperial legions to mage-created trolls, dragons, and rocs.

Trying to survive and learn the truth about their world so they will know how to save it, Mari and Alain realize the answers they seek may lie in the dead city of Marandur. But Marandur is guarded by the legions that have sealed it off from the rest of the world for more than a century. Mari and Alain's only hope may rest with the unseen masters of Marandur.

©2015 John G. Hemry (P)2014 Audible Inc.

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Only problem is you have to wait for the next book

Really enjoying this series and the only issue is that I now have to wait for the next book to come out as at June 2015 it's not out yet.

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  • Pabkins
  • 29-03-2015

I enjoyed it even more so then the first!

The Hidden Masters of Marandur is the second book in the fantasy mixed with technology series Pillars of Reality. Taking place on the continent of Dematr in what I believe is a planet not our own, that humans must have colonized hundreds of years ago. The common people have their kingdoms and governments but are basically under the thumb and control of the two great guilds of Mages and Mechanics. These guilds hate one another except for Mari (mechanic) and Alain (Mage) who came together previously in the first book, The Dragons of Dorcastle, under very dangerous circumstances. This second installment is just as action packed as the first and continues their struggles together against their two guilds, various other nefarious forces and sets them on the road to fulfilling prophecy.

​- I was worried at the end of the first book that Alain and Mari wouldn’t be featured together in the second book. Luckily, that wasn’t the case and we get to see them together again navigating dangerous scenarios, trying to figure out what their guilds might know about the two of them working together, escaping dark mechanics and meeting old faces from both of their past lives. I definitely continue to greatly enjoy the dynamics between these two characters especially their dialogue.

​- Both the Mage Guild and Mechanics Guild seem to operate in a similar manner in that they try to teach their members to blindly believe nothing but the doctrine of their guild and to place a lower value on the lives of the common people. They take what they want and give little in return except for those services which are highly paid for. The Mages are taught that nothing and no one is real and that the whole world is an illusion and that they must deny all feelings or they will lose their powers as a mage. While the Mechanics are taught that common people don’t have the ability to learn mechanics skills and that they must never make anything new and innovative. Both guilds want to maintain a stagnate state within their guilds and for the entire populace. When one group or common government becomes too strong they pit them against each other in wars to keep them indirectly under their control.

​- Each guild does seem to have a group that has broken off that does whatever they please. They are referred to their respective guilds as Dark Mages and Dark Mechanics. They are not part of the guilds and operate outside it’s ruled and regulation doing whatever they please.

- There is a much heavier focus on the romance between Alain and Mari this time around, but I adored it! Alain is starting to show more emotion and Mari is of course very forthcoming with hers. These are two new or young adults exploring feelings neither have had before. I found this to be such a sweet budding relationship that it gave me quite a few, ahhhh I love this book moments. Which says a lot since I’m not usually a sucker for young romance.

- Alain is definitely my favorite character. This might be because he is the most mature character while at the same time has the most potential for growth. He is so intelligent and logical, seeing things so clearly and also having an objective and sticking to it. For being taught not to care about others he still innately seems to know what is right and wrong, having a really strong sense of morals. I loved the way we continue to see Alain slowly learn about simple things like what emotions and different actions mean. I thought that perhaps I might tire of this but have realized its one of my favorite parts about his character.

- Mari is also a great character. Even tho she is a very good person, wanting to help people and respecting each person regardless of their station and wanting so many things for all people. Seeing how things are not fair for everyone and wanting to do things to change the bigger picture she has her faults just like everyone else. She can frequently be so stubborn and pigheaded. She will insist on her way, or get overly emotional about things or even refuse to use logic to see things that are so obvious. And at times she will inconveniently forget that Alain doesn’t understand and see things the way that she does and fly off the handle at him. In a way I got upset a few times at her for being that way and then at other times I got upset that she was written to be that way. *smile* But ultimately I still really adore her character and her fiery personality is a great balance to Alain’s calm and collected one.

I highly recommend this to fantasy lovers, especially if you enjoy reading about young protagonists coming into their own and fighting against a stronger force then themselves. The world building has been strengthened even further giving the reader more history. Along with the characters flight from their pursuers and search for knowledge allowing us to see more of the continent the pace is constant and had me finding excuses to continue the book. The Hidden Masters of Marandur also leaves off at a fabulous point for the third book to pick up which I believe is going to take us and the characters delving even deeper into the world and history of humanity and how they came to Dematr.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Ohio
  • 13-02-2015

Amazing story and narrator.

Loved it just like the first. I love where things are heading and it's not at too glacial a pace. I stumbled upon this gem of a series just because McLeod Andrews was narrating. I can't wait for the next book but I recommend you listening to other books narrated by him.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Douglas Tiffin
  • 16-03-2015

Would You Please Grow Up

The first book set up an interesting story, fairly unique, and certainly worth listening to. This second book follows the story, picks up the action and keeps the conflict moving. But rather keeping these two individuals fresh and allowing them to learn about life together the author has chosen to have the female lead to turn into a snipish, jealous child given to fits of anger and jealously and drops the book into a young adult love story. The problem with listening to this book rather than reading is that you can't scan through the text to skip by the typical teenage psychology and the little girl tantrums and stay in the flow. There was room to give these two atypical teenagers new and inventive psychology, fitting to this new world, rather than what is provided.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Ryan
  • 11-06-2015

Good book, but a little to much teen romance for me.

I don't have a lot of experience with Jack Campbell's books so I'm not sure if this is just his writing style, but expect a lot more teen romance then story here. Don't get me wrong the story portion of it is good, just overshadowed heavily by the blossoming romance of the protagonists.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • 19-02-2015

Andrews is fantastic, Campbell delivers

Would you consider the audio edition of The Hidden Masters of Marandur to be better than the print version?

N/A

What did you like best about this story?

It's entertaining, funny, and addictive.

Have you listened to any of MacLeod Andrews’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes. The first book in this series. He does such a great job with all the different characters. He never ceases to amaze or impress. I would consider this performance better than the first.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Juliet d'Arc meets her Romeo, follow them on their steam punk adventure amidst magic, mystery, and peril. What's to lose when the world is against you?

Any additional comments?

A bit sappy with all the romance. It adds to character depth, but can be nauseating at times.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • 09-06-2015

Too Much Kissy Kissy.

The story itself if decent. Before you embark though be sure to have your gag reflexes well in check before diving in. It is clear the author is trying to cement the fact that these two who are not supposed to mix at all are building a solid relationship despite all the troubles associated with that situation. It just seemed to me that the romantic segments could have been just as potent or maybe even more so with a lot less. Its kind of like the adage, if you have to say your cool then your probably not. The author tries hard to make you understand these two main characters are in a "wholehearted, die for you" relationship, but in my opinion could have done with less words and perhaps at more appropriate points in the story. If you can get through that or you are used to romance novels and have become desensitized to that sort of plot then the remainder of the story is quite entertaining.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Got My Book
  • 15-06-2016

Danger & Romance

Mari & Alain's second adventure continues the genre-blending fun with dragons, rocket launchers, and more friends.

BOOK DETAILS:
The Hidden Masters of Marandur by Jack Campbell, read by MacLeod Andrews, published by Audible Studios (2015) / Length: 12 hrs 54 min

SERIES INFO:
This is Book #2 of 4 (so far) in "The Pillars of Reality" series. Check out my review of Book #1 . Books #5 & #6 will be released at Audible on 7/1 & 8/1/16 respectively, which will complete the series. Other formats will be released approximately 90 days afterwards.

**This review contains spoilers for the previous book.**

SUMMARY:
I just finished reading Book #4, and this is still my current favorite series. I will repeat what I said in my review of the first book, "forget this review, just go read the book."

CHARACTERS:
Mari: At the end of the last book, she decided that she would change the entire world if necessary in order to make it right and allow her to be with Alain. In this book she is trying to gather more information on how the world got to be the way it is, since she believes is doing research before taking on a problem. She is also grappling with the effects her abandonment issues have on her relationship with Alain.

Alain: He begins this book struggling to deal with the loneliness he now feels after having had Mari to talk to previously. Once they are reunited he has to juggle his determination to protect The Daughter and his own efforts to become truly human again.

Mari & Alain: At the end of the last book, Mari told Alain that she loved him, and he answered "Yes" when she asked if he had feelings for her (he really struggles to express love, since Mages were severely punished for such behavior). The relationship continues to grow in this book in a, mostly, healthy and satisfying manner. Mari does display some serious jealousy that has proved irritating to many readers. It didn't bother me, because she recognized her feelings and tried to deal with them.

I have seen complaints about how Mari is the one who controls their physical relationship. I think that it is absolutely every individuals right to set their own limits. Since, in this relationship, she is the one who wants to "wait" then she is the one choosing where the limits are. Now it is true that she does so in her usual bossy manner, which is what I think they were bothered by, since it might seem like she is telling him what he has to do. But Alain has proven himself more than capable of speaking up if he doesn't agree.

This is the book where we begin to truly introduce some of the wonderful supporting characters that inhabit this world. Important ones include: General Flyn, who I liked despite my concerns expressed below. / Calu, a mechanic friend of Mari's who was briefly mentioned in the first book and whose interest in Theoretical Physics brings out some very intriguing connections between science and the mages magic. / Mage Asha, an extremely beautiful former fellow acolyte of Alain's / Professor S'san, the one who pushed Mari hard so she would reach Master Mechanic status before the rules were changed to set a minimum age. / Mechanic Alli, Mari's best friend and a favorite of mine, is mentioned again.

WORLDBUILDING & PLOT:
In the first book, Alain & Mari were always in the same place even when they were not always together. However at the end of that book they each came to the conclusion that the only way to protect the other was to separate, since being seen together could get them killed by either guild. This book starts out with them halfway across the world from each other.

Note: The parts with Mari alone are never my favorite parts. Not because of her; but because, for some reason, I dislike the Senior Mechanics more than the Mage Elders.

The majority of the book is spent in the territory of The Empire, the largest political power in the world. Their aggression is held in check only by the Guilds, who don't want anyone challenging their control. They are very organized and orderly and have many of the same public institutions as we do, but they are also very controlling.

Trains are officially becoming "a thing." In the first book, she convinced Alain to travel on one and they almost crash due to a sabotaged bridge. Despite his reluctance, they again choose to travel on a train and meet with an adventure.

We get to meet another dragon and a Roc (giant bird), and Mari uses some seriously cool ordinance.

The book ends with some hope that they may finally learn something about their world and how it became so screwed up.

HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:
--Alain really needs to learn "social skills."

Mari shifted position, grimacing. "Blazes, my butt hurts. I think horses were designed as instruments of torture. And my thighs. You can't imagine how my thighs feel."

"I have tried to imagine how they feel," Alain offered.

Mari stared back at him blankly for a moment, then broke into laughter. "Alain, you don't just say something like that to a girl. Everybody knows men are thinking it, but they're not supposed to say it."

--Mari's recognition that they haven't really known each other that long, and are in mortal danger, so maybe now isn't the time to make big decisions about their future.

--A scene in which Mari is traumatized & despairing and unable to make good choices for herself, and so Alain makes the choice he knows is consistent with her true desires.

I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT:
I have serious doubts about the morality of the raids being conducted by General Flyn and his soldiers (i.e. I think they are immoral). The rationale is that they keep their soldiers practiced and their enemy off balance. But, even with their no-kill policy, it is not really the enemy government that suffers. The border farmers are the ones that have to deal with the losses.

I also have concerns about books in which characters regularly "sleep together" when they want, and plan, to not have sex yet. It is made clear in this particular book that Mari doesn't do that until she is confident in their self-control, but waiting is important to her and I personally think that it's unwise to promote the idea that such a practice isn't likely to lead to unplanned activities.

OTHER CAUTIONS: Throughout this series, it is made clear that most Mages & Mechanics don’t concern themselves with “consent” when it come to physical relations with Commons. We don’t get any details of particular incidents though, and neither of our main characters is comfortable with the practice. (repeated from the first review)

NARRATION:
Character voices differentiated = Yes / Opposite sex voices acceptable = Yes / Accents good = Yes. He actually does a really good job with this, since he has to invent accents for people from different fictional regions. / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = Good / Emoting = Good. Like the 1st book, he does well with both the emotional Mari and the "just learning to express some emotions, but mostly flat" Alain / Speed = Good, was able to listen on normal speed rather than my usual 1.25.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-03-2016

I hope the story never ends

the love story is beliveable. the story line is engaging. I can't wait to see what happens next

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Greta
  • 19-03-2015

Way to ride the Stereotypes!

This had tons of potential: for character development, a chance to explore the development of solutions to problems set up in book 1, a chance to model better relationship skills.
NOPE. x3
Instead it became an irritating rehash of "insecure girl who is emotional - and unwilling to discuss why, jealous, and incapable of accepting praise."
And
"Logical, unemotional boy who is long-suffering with the even keel that keeps the relationship and story moving"

And on top of all that, the girl was made the gatekeeper for all physical aspects of the relationship.

They went some places and did some stuff, but that got buried under these choking stereotypes. The narration was just as good - but I have no interest in following this pair through any more adventures.

24 of 32 people found this review helpful

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  • Virate190
  • 11-12-2015

The Plot is God

"because the plot demands it," seems to be the most common philosophy in this book. My favorite is the magic system: The magic Main seems to have the mystical ability to scale his power with the demands of the situation.
Sometimes he's unbelievably weak, with just one or two spells in him. Other times he can throw out ten or twenty. He can use fireballs to shatter rocks, but not scales or -unbelievably - giant bird wings. Its not a real ability. Its a plot control.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • susan
  • 21-03-2015

Quintessential middle book

I love this series - the characters, the world & the story are amazing & I totally recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy - but this book was paced kind of oddly, the whole thing felt like the middle of a book & the character interactions took on a total teen realism, 'Romeo & Juliet' like quality. The drama felt kind of silly in the face of all of what was going on around them. I just hope that a real teenage would ditch the drama in the face of death & saving the world....
Still an amazing read & the drama does make the characters increasingly real, if rather annoying.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Anna
  • 14-08-2015

If you like dragons and steampunk

If you could sum up The Hidden Masters of Marandur in three words, what would they be?

A really good story, but a bit too much of meditation.The actions scenes are really well made and thrilling (not then I'm a big fan of action books but still), but the long dialogues repeating the same things over and over again are a bit boring, as well as the characters' meditations on "should I do this or shouldn't I? maybe I should, but it all seems so wrong! but if it is wrong why it seems so right? maybe it is right then. But what if it is wrong? Maybe I shouldn't do it after all? But then what should I do?.. and so on and on through the book. These parts really made me want to increase the narration speed.

Have you listened to any of MacLeod Andrews’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No, but the narrator is really good

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not really, because of the long dialogues and long hesitatio scenes I've mentioned above. However I did want to listen to this story to the end and will buy the 3rd book as well.

Any additional comments?

It's not bad at all, all in all, I've enjoyed it, but it is really a young adult book. I never knew what was wrong with the young adult genre, but now I think I know that this teenage romance is a bit too all-sweet-fairytale-like lovestory and not actually realistic. I mean not the fantasy world setting, but the characters themselves and their relations.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Toby Smyth
  • 12-05-2015

A terrible love story obscuring a great plot

The promise of the first book is spoilt by a romance that fail to be interesting or credible.

Great narration though, and there is scope for the author to turn it around in the next book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ho-Man Yau
  • 04-04-2019

I love this couple.

an excellent continuation of the series. I look forward to seeing what happens next in the story.

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  • Poppey
  • 03-03-2019

Explosive

Mari and Alain travel to the forbidden city of Marandur, the dead city. If caught, the penalty is death. There they find a University full of professors and students who have been imprisoned in the city, unable to leave for over 150 years. They also find the missing books which contain information the Mechanics Guild is trying to keep hidden and answers some questions. However, the answers raise more questions.

Having followed Jack Campbell's sci-fi adventures, I was a little apprehensive when I purchased Book 1. However, this is turning out to be a cracking series.

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  • Keith Fitz
  • 01-11-2018

Great story with fantastic reader

I'm on love with these books so far, they've made the night shift chat much easier. but it's stories like these that leave me a sense of longing for a piece of music to accompany the story. Either way, the character development in the first book was great which made connecting with this one that much easier.

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  • Lynn Worton
  • 07-05-2018

Exciting Read!

This is the second book in a fantastic epic fantasy series called The Pillars of Reality. I absolutely loved it!

Mari is a fantastic character and I liked her from the moment she was introduced. I love her determination to do the right thing, even at the cost of her own life. She is an eighteen year-old Master Mechanic. She has attained it by qualifying as the youngest Lady Master Mechanic since the Guild was first formed several centuries earlier.

Mage Alain is also a fantastic character. I liked him a lot. He is seventeen years-old and one of the youngest Acolytes to achieve Mage status. He has been taught from a young age not to show or feel any emotions and that the world he lives in is an illusion, where nothing is real.

I listened to this story in audio format, rather than read it. The story is once again narrated by MacLeod Andrews. He does a fantastic job in bringing the story to life. Even Alain, who's voice is meant to be flat and emotionless comes across with subtle hints. You would think that Alain's voice would be monotonous, but it's not so. I love the way he brings all the characters to life with different accents, inflections and tones. He even makes the women's voices sound perfect for each character. As for his narration, he read the story clearly and concisely, and his pacing was perfect. I would definitely listen to more books read by this narrator.

This story picks up a few months after the events in Dorcastle (see Book One: The Dragons of Dorcastle). Alain has been sent by his guild on a contract to protect some common soldiers who are travelling to war. Along the way, they are attacked.The foresight Alain has developed has shown him that a storm is coming, though he has no idea what his vision means, so wishes to seek answers. Meanwhile, Mari has been sent to Tay (sorry, unsure of spelling due to only hearing it spoken and not reading the book), a region that has fallen into anarchy, by her guild. Unwilling to be a sacrificial lamb, Mari goes in search of Mage Alain. Together once more, they face several challenges and dangers. However, one of their leads takes them to Marandur, a city declared dead by the emperor one hundred and fifty years previously, where they make a startling discovery. Will they survive only to stumble at the final hurdle?

This story introduces us to the world of Dematr. It is a mass of contradictions. There are two great Guilds who hold all the power over the common folk - The Mechanics and The Mages. These Guilds have held power for centuries and refuse to relinquish their hold and reject change of any kind. However, this is slowly strangling the world, making it harder and harder for the Mechanics, especially as their technology is regressing. This story has a steampunk feel to it, with machinery being steam driven at times - trains for instance. Though there are some more modern items such as far-talkers (walkie-talkies to you and me), torches using batteries, and rifles and pistols that are decidedly more modern-day. Mages use energy from the land around them and some of their own energy to make spells. These spells can be used in various ways - from hiding oneself to creating a dragon.

This book is told through the eyes of both Mari and Alain and I found myself completely hooked from beginning to end. I loved meeting the two main protagonists once more, and watching (in my minds eye) the story unfold as I listened. The story is full of action, adventure, and danger and I found myself an emotional wreck at times. Have you ever read or listened to a story and felt completely emersed in it? This happened to me whilst listening to this book. These characters have come to life for me and have become my friends. I found myself missing them when the story finished, so I began listening to it again. I've listened to this book now at least four times. Each time I listen to it, the story and characters sweep me up and carry me away to a world that is alien and yet familiar at the same time, and makes me want to go and visit it. This book ends with a slight cliffhanger and the audio version has a preview of the next book in the series, which I am now looking forward to reading/listening to. I will be listening to The Assassins of Altis as soon as I can.

Jack Campbell is a new author to me. I've never read or listened to any of his other books. However, I may have to add him to my favourite authors list, as he's found a fan in me. I love his writing style, which is fast paced and descriptive, and the flow of the story is good too.

Although there is no mention of any scenes of a sexual nature, I do not, however, recommend this book to younger readers under the age of 15 due to some violence. I do, however, highly recommend this book if you love dark or epic fantasy, steampunk or action/adventure and supernatural/paranormal romance genres. - Lynn Worton

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  • PersianScorpio
  • 26-03-2018

The masters of Marandur

If you could sum up The Hidden Masters of Marandur in three words, what would they be?

The story was very well told. The evolution of the main characters love continues to grow and the reader really feels engrossed in the book. It instils the virtue of thinking before acting. There were also allot of humorous parts. It was also very well read

What other book might you compare The Hidden Masters of Marandur to, and why?

The book has made me want to go through the rest of the series.

Which character – as performed by MacLeod Andrews – was your favourite?

The author writes the book very well

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  • Mr. W. Inskip
  • 12-05-2017

Romeo and Juliet meets Shannara

Enjoyed this second part of the series and will download the 3rd book in the series.

The two main characters continue the adventures, thrown back together early on in the story.

Fairly formulaic but different enough to keep me listening.

The narration is great an following the narrator is how I arrive at this series.

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  • anthony
  • 15-06-2016

Loved it.

I really enjoyed this book, the story just continued to hot up. I think book 3 is going to be a great listen. The narator does another grand job can't fault him at all. If I had to recommend this series to someone then all I would say is if you want a dam good listen then give this series ago.