I actually enjoyed this book much more than I thought that I would. I will admit that I had some issues with it, but for the most part, I was pleasantly surprised. I had expected something very different, and something much less entertaining than this was.
Issues first: The characters were a little bit 2D, and I wanted them to be a bit more unpredictable and have a bit more personality. There were also some situations that just didn't really make sense, but seemed to be put in to ratchet up the excitement more than anything else - the keep scene from the trial section, in particular. I was scratching my head over that one. Then there's the outside of Gutaria scene, which reminded me, as perhaps it was supposed to, of The Fellowship of the Ring before entering the mines of Moria. Esrahaddon's scenes were a mite tedious too - on audio especially, and it was certainly unbelievable that the series of events in that section would have come about in just the way they did. It just seemed... convenient and out of character for some. Those are the only specific things that I can recall that bugged me. Otherwise it was just a general wish for more
- more personality, more depth, just more.
I did like the two main characters, Royce and Hadrian. I thought that they were interesting and funny, and complemented each other well. I liked the unique way that elves were portrayed in the story, and not the perfection that they are in other fantasy books. I liked the REAL feel of the story, as though this could have happened some time in our own past. I liked the subtle and not-so-subtle church and religion aspects of the book, and the way that they are portrayed and their history. Very interesting. All in all, I liked the book, enough to continue to the next in the series, and perhaps beyond.
Now, regarding the audio. Oy. There are people who are cut out to be audiobook readers, and there are people who are not. I'm sorry to say it, but Nathan Lowell is definitely NOT. His reading was very inconsistent, running the gamut from bored and snooty to pompous and simpering, and that's just the narrative tone. Then there are the voices and accents, which were all over the board. He would do an accent one way for one character in one part of the book, and then a completely different way at a later point - but his "character" voice would always continue on to the narration until he caught himself and "reset", sort of. It was distracting. I tried not to let the reader affect my enjoyment or rating of the book, but I have to say that he did. If this was read by another reader, it could have been fantastic. As it was, the audio version was tolerable at best. The STORY is still good and enjoyable, but the reading does take away something, rather than adding something, as a good audio version should. *shrug*
Either way, I still would recommend the book. It was interesting and fun and different, and I look forward to the next in the series. :)