Servants of War: The Age of Ravens, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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New military fantasy from the creator of Monster Hunter International, Larry Correia, and master of horror Steve Diamond.
The war between Almacia and the Empire of Kolakolvia is in its hundredth year. Casualties grow on both sides as the conflict leaves no corner of the world untouched.
Illarion Glaskov’s quiet life on the fringes of the empire is thrown into chaos when an impossible tragedy strikes his village. When he is conscripted into the Tsarist military, he is sent to serve in The Wall - an elite regiment that pilots suits of armor made from the husks of dead golems.
But the great war is not the only - or even the worst - danger facing Illarion, as he is caught in a millennia-old conflict between two goddesses. He must survive the ravages of trench warfare, horrific monsters from another world, and the treacherous internal politics of the country he serves.
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Larry Correia is the Dragon Award-winning, best-selling author of the Monster Hunter International series, the Saga of the Forgotten Warrior series, the Grimnoir Chronicles, and the Dead Six series of military thrillers.
Steve Diamond founded and runs the review site Elitist Book Reviews, which was nominated for the Hugo Award in 2013, 2014, and 2015. He writes for Ragnarok, Baen, Privateer Press, and numerous small publications. He is also the editor of the horror anthology Shared Nightmares.
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|Listening Length||16 hours and 38 minutes|
|Author||Larry Correia, Steve Diamond|
|Narrator||Daniel Thomas May|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||March 01, 2022|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #9,235 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#178 in Military Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
Reviewed in the United States on March 15, 2022
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Two notes 1. I read this as someone that enjoys Larry Correia books. 2. I read and listened to this book went putting together this review
I think my overall rating of the book is its ok on rereading it. Its has a really strong middle act and a weak 1st and 3rd act.
The biggest issue is the opening set up of the series and the time you have to put it to set up a new world. The world building can be slow and frankly boring. The book tries to put together themes about fate leaders and soldiers but frankly Illarion has a boring life but even when everything goes sideways we don’t really have a reason to care about his people or his village. We care because we kind of like the guy but I kinda like the guy that trims my trees but I don’t really know his whole back story.
The first act of the book is getting Illarion from his village to become a mech pilot. If you have read Mr. Correia, Monster Hunter International Book 1 its much like the first few chapters of that book where Owen fights werewolves, gets recruited, gets trained. While there is a bit of fun in Servants of War overall it's depressing, and while that is in favor of the world. It makes it hard during the first section of the book to get invested. All I could think about is everything being gray. The Ground is gray, the buildings are gray, the soldiers are gray. I’m not sure what color any of this stuff should be but in my mind it just seems like a gray on gray world.
That said, the and the 2nd act does not suffer from the same drag as the opening 1/3 of the book. The middle of the book is when our soldier Illarion is now on the front lines and the book really starts to pick up a head of steam. You start wanting to read more and more of the story. This is by far the strongest part of the books. The different characters come together and you get a feeling for the war and Illarions role within his unit and you get a feel for the members of his unit. One of the odd choices going from 1st act to the 2nd act was that Illarion has little interaction with the soldiers he trained with in act 1. Make sense from a military point of view less so from a story point of view. (If MHI were written this way you would meet Trip, Lee, and Newcastle) then after the first mission they become largely background characters) The net effect is you become awash in a sea of names. When characters start getting tattoos and nicknames those are often a lot easier to keep track of than earlier parts of the book. It’s snake guy, brick guy or ghoul guy, The Black Company books do a great job of using nicknames rather than the frankly less memorable real names of the characters.
The 3rd act of the story is the journey through “hell.” The pacing here helps the story but hell honestly seems really boring for the most part(now its red rather than gray it's also hot and there are monsters.) The momentum of needing to get us out of hell helps keep the story moving. I was reminded of how in Advanced Linear Algebra we have to map one plane onto the other and how the translation from one to another can be a real pain but it makes sense why it would be challenging to navigate. I’ll say the final battle is hell is a bit unfulfilling the stakes don't feel high enough. That is not to say its poorly put together but it was clear our 3 main characters were never really at risk. That is not to say they didn’t come undamaged, it just lacked scale needed for the final battle. If you compare this fight to fight at Caverns in MHI it lacks scale and threat, if you compare it to Hard Magic it lacks an interesting setting and a villain of any real menace. Even a novel like Dead Six without magic, the fight at the air strip has a real sense of danger. Gun Runner, Son of Black Sword all those first novel final fights have more impact than this battle does and it comes down to it doesn’t feel like much is at stake in this final battle lack of threat. When everything is a terrible horrible deformed monster nobody is a terrible deformed monster…
The great menace of the series looks to be Three sisters, and having met two of them there seems little threat. We are told how powerful they are but they don’t act powerful. They act like a bunch of sisters who are all interested in the same boy. The Chancellor as well doesn’t really create a huge threat. Steve’s short story from Noir Fatale “The Privileges of Violence” does a much better job of setting up both Christoph and the Chancellor. Or Rona sniper is by far the most fun of our main character, but she plays third wheel for most of the story.
Talking about the audio for this book. I feel that Daniel Thomas is a real step down from Bronson Pinchot, Oliver Wyman, Tim Gerard Reynolds. Those guys did such a good job on Larry’s other series. Don’t get me wrong Daniel still does a much better job than Bailey Carr did on Monster Hunter Guardian which was the worst thing since being eaten alive by rats while in the trenches of World War 1. If you are coming for the audio of this one be prepared it's not up to the level of Larry’s other readers.
Overall, I look forward to future books in the series its an interesting world if a bit small right now. Its fine for now but I think Servants of War will be a lot better when there is a second book in the series.
I was not optimistic that I would enjoy this one based on the descriptions. But, I am glad to say that I liked it immensely, and I am looking forward to the follow on books. The characters were well developed, to the point that I am looking forward to following their journey. And, there were enough unanswered questions to keep upcoming volumes in the unknown realm. Will my guess about the future of this world be correct? Will there be a surprise? Eager to find out.
If there is a lesson here, it is make your blurbs better. Than again, as a Correia fan, I would probably read the book anyway.
I enjoyed it right up until the epilogue. It… confused me a little. But! I’m still eager to read the next one.
Overall, it’s all the Larry Correia without politics. It’s a well-written book with characters I got invested in.
I would recommend this.
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Great work, guys!