Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Bookyrm's Review of The Novices by David Goldfarb

Author: David Goldfarb

Length: 183 pages/ 5 hrs, 55 mins (audio)

Release Date: May 12, 2017/ July 19, 2017 (audio)

Publisher: Spoken Realms (audio)

Narrator: Travis Baldree

This is one of those titles I had in my Audible account for a while and for whatever reason, had just not gotten to. Well, gladly, as is searched through for something to listen to this week, this caught my eye. I had recently finished another book done by this narrator, and thought the story sounded fun. Six hours later, I can happily and whole heartedly recommend this book.

The famed mercenary company, the Iron Line, is about to retire and disband after many years of top flight adventuring, and they are going out on a lucrative high note, having slain the last dragon in a quest set out by a rural duke. Unfortunately, they missed the fine print in the contract where they were responsible for cleanup and destruction of the dragons body, or no pay, and possible damages if the carcass drew other predators to the area. Needing to get the dragons head back to town, the band finds that they can hire locals to go do the cleanup, and they find a group of 3 new adventurers to accomplish the task. How hard can the cleanup be, if they provide Eelfire oil to destroy it? It turns out, much more complicated than anyone could expect!

It turns out Gwill, the Second in command of the Line, who wields the death dagger Tomb, has been keeping some secrets from her band, like how she came to get the dagger, and who she made the deal with to get it. To pa back for the dagger, she has to ensure to be paid in 24 hours for the dragon kill. Unfortunately, the group they hired to get rid of the body are, ah, clueless. A warrior, bard and priest with one spell, healing, are probably not best suited for the task. In addition, well, it turns out the last dragon was the next to last dragon. The last dragon is this dragon's ancient, super powerful mother, asleep under a mountain these last 300 years, and does she wake up pissed when her baby dies. Pissing off a dragon that can breath both ice and fire is never a good idea. Lets just say that what follows is both a comedy of errors and dragon wreckage on an epic scale, all leading to a climactic battle where the stakes are huge, and not everyone will make it to the other side.

The narration is handled by Travis Baldree. I have been a huge fan of his since I read his work on Charles Grant's horror book, Jackals. He is definitely in my list of top 10 narrators working today. He has an excellent narrative pace, and has an excellent command of accent, pitch and tone to convey the differences in various characters. He never drops into a monotone, and seems to be really interested in the story as he reads it, adding to the quality. Definitely something to check out.

All told, this is definitely a worthy book in a crowded field. Is it perfect? No. The world it takes place in seems a bit underdeveloped, but then again, the characters really didn't go anywhere, so that will probably be rectified in the next book. The characters are fun, and worth reading about. Gwill especially is an interesting character, and her motivations are actually very realistic and thoughtful. All in all, though, I hope more people discover this book, because it would be a shame if more in the series weren't written. Any fans of comedic fantasy should definitely give this one a shot. It's worth the read/listen.

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