Author: Ambrose Zack Adams
Narrator: Ivan Andres Ley
Length: 11 hours 23 minutes
Publisher: Kinetic Grappling⎮2020
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Series: The Serpent’s Heir, Book 1
Release date: Jun. 11, 2020
Synopsis: When Lucian Draco becomes the youngest person to ever be accepted into the Valiant Minds School of Magic, the fact that magic even exists at all is as much knowledge as he has on the subject. After a lifetime of being sheltered by his father, Lucian is more than ready to learn where he fits into the magical community…but the answer is more complicated than he’s prepared for.
Thrust into a new world of competitions and rivalries, fast friends and faster enemies, Lucian soon discovers he’s no ordinary mage – he’s the living host of a long-dormant spirit called the Dragon of the Mind, born with power and intelligence beyond his wildest dreams. But there’s a reason Lucian’s father kept the truth of this power hidden from his own son, and it’s not the only secret being kept. With supernatural threats looming on the horizon, including a bloodthirsty vampire aching to restart an ancient war, getting through school is about to become the least of Lucian’s worries.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in audiobook format so that I could provide my honest review.
I’m giving this book 4 out of 5 stars. BUUUUT…I didn’t feel that way about it at first.
First off, Ivan Andres Ley as the narrator, he’s not bad but his voice feels a little stiff as I listen to him at first. Like he doesn’t really possess the full range of emotion that I’ve come to expect from my audiobook narrators. But then I realized, he only sounds like that when he is narrating the plot main character, Lucien Draco’s words and thoughts. When he does the voices of the other characters, they are very emotional with excellent accents, large range, and it is easy to distinguish between genders and characters. I had completely forgotten for a few chapters that it was only the one narrator because he does such a great job with the voices of the supporting characters. Like WOW!
And then I realized that the reason why the narrator seemed so dry and stiff with Lucien’s voice and the general narration is because that is how Lucien is supposed to be. Lucien is super intelligent and raised to be hyper-rational. It’s not until later in the book that he really starts showing a lot of emotion other than “I’m-so-smart”. In fact, I hated Lucien for his I’m so smart that it is my greatest flaw, kind of situation for most of the book. By halfway through the story I was really only in it for the werewolf heiress that needed to be rescued from vampires because I hated the main character so much.
So, while I was initially underwhelmed by the narrator, I realized that he was actually very good at his job. Maybe too good, since I was hating on the MC and forgot that he had voiced all the other characters as well. I felt almost like this might have been the narrators first book, I wasn’t able to find any other audiobooks attributed to that narrator, and if it was their first, I think it bodes well for their future career that they were so great with their performance in this one. The audio recording itself, was very good. No weird sounds, no pops, skips, or awkward pauses.
I’m glad that I listened to this book in audio format. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it or bothered to finish it if I had been reading this as a traditional book. I might have returned it to the store, actually, I was SO annoyed with the main character being extra smart and gifted because of his being the reincarnation of a deity. My teenage son had been listening to the audiobook with me for the first few chapters (we were stuck in traffic) and he actually started referring to it as “that awful book” as in “are you still listening to that awful book”. It’s not an awful book. We just hated the main character for the first few chapters, and he stopped listening before it got interesting.
The book is interesting. The story skips about three years (I think) of the time that Lucien is in magic school. And that is okay because even though he’s supposedly learned a lot during that time, he doesn’t really do a whole lot of character developing until later in the book. I actually grudgingly started to like him toward the end of the book and was devastated when one of the supporting characters died. Not until the last chapter did, I develop an affinity toward him despite enjoying the development of the world very much.
This book is definitely going to be of interest to people who are into series. It’s not a one off. The story builds slowly. It contains unusual definitions in its magical world that, as far as I know, are unique to this series and will require some concentration to get straight. There’s a surprise twist at the ending that apparently my kid “totally saw coming” when I ran into the kitchen squealing with excitement to tell him about it.
For anyone who sees the main character’s name, Lucien Draco, and that he is attending a magical school; I want to make sure you understand that this is not a “Harry Potter” copycat as far as I can tell. I never read those books so I can’t say for sure nothing is super similar, but I did watch all the movies. And after the first couple of chapters of this book, I decided that I was glad my son stopped listening because it’s not really a kid’s book. This is definitely a book for an older crowd.
The story and the character grew on me over the course of the book and by the end I was disappointed that I don’t have the sequel. So, definitely a 4 out of 5 stars kind of book.
- Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook. This is kind of a fun story because I didn’t plan on making an audiobook. During a DND (Dungeons ‘n Dragons) session, I was telling my group about my book. I was telling them how I was wrapping up and getting ready to publish in a couple months. My buddy Ivan, the Ranger of our party, who is an opera singer, said how he would love to get into audiobook narration. I said I would love to have my book in audio, and that I would do it; but I’m terrible. He did a copy accent for me, and the rest is history.
- Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format? Not really. I’ve listened to self-help books, mysteries, to low fantasy to high fantasy. Whether you like the writing or not, that is what keeps you engaged. And how well the narrator can bring that writing to life.
- How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters? Initially I was closely involved with the narration process. I constantly gave feedback on the characters, how they should sound, and how I wanted the characters to be performed. Ivan went with my suggestions and then kind of created his own performance. Which was extremely cool because I got to be like the rest of the listeners – hearing a performed rendition of the book for the first time.
- Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you? Yes, I love audiobooks. Audiobooks is actually what got me back into reading. My first audiobook was The Hunger Games. I love the fact that I can listen and read. While I’m driving, doing yard work, and any other type of physical activity I can listen. It takes me to another world.
- If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
- If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles? I have an idea of what the characters would look like, but the problem is the ages. Some of them would be too old to play the characters.
- Ricky Whittle is an actor I had in mind for Lucian who is the main character. He is the main actor on the tv show American Gods. He has the look and build similar to Lucian; but, unfortunately he is a little old to play the character.
- Chole Grace Maretz as Anna. Her portrayal in the movie Kick-Ass is something that fits a character like Anna throughout the whole story. Again, she might be too old to play the part; but, you know how Hollywood is.
- What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”? I’ve heard this and think it’s kind of crazy. It just depends who you are and what you prefer. My wife hates listening to audiobooks, and it’s actually harder for her to gather all the information through audio. Everyone absorbs material differently.
- Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams? No, however I have found myself thinking about different characters and the different decisions they would make – when I’m driving, watching tv, shopping to flesh out character development.
- What’s your favorite:
- Food – Pizza
- Song – So Beautiful – Musiq Soulchild
- Music Artist – Jay-Z
- Book – The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
- Television show – The Boys – on Amazon
- Movie – a tie between The Matrix and Avengers End Game
- Sports team – Indiana Pacers
- Hobby – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- Are any of those things referenced in appearance in your work? Combat sports is a definite influence. I used jiu-jitsu techniques to help me in writing the fighting sequences.
- What’s next for you? I am currently working on book 2 of The Serpent’s Heir. I am finishing up the final act of the story and getting ready to send it to editing.
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