Podcast Review #19: Nina Kimberly the Merciless

Title: Nina Kimberly the Merciless
Author: Christiana Ellis
Genre: Fantasy
Released: 17 Marach 2009 – 16 December 2009
Located: iTunesPodiobooks, Author’s Site
Formats Available: Podcast, Dead Tree, Free PDF

Anyone familiar with these reviews knows that my journey started with Tee Morris. Through his podcasts I branched out to many of the stories that are mentioned there, and actively looked for works by people that were cast in Morevi Remastered. This is how I found Christiana Ellis (@christianaellis on Twitter). I listened to Space Casey and enjoyed it very much, and was a bit unhappy with how short it was. I was very excited when I first heard that she had a new story she was podcasting, and so immediately downloaded the first several eps of Nina Kimberly the Merciless (now called the Classic Edition). I truthfully don’t know if i made it through the first ep. Nina Kimberly’s voice set me on edge and gave me a headache. I know this isn’t true for all of you, because I kept hearing such glowing reviews and I knew I must be missing out on something.

So, when I heard that Ms. Ellis had released a Remastered version, I decided that I would eventually give it a try. I did that this last week.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: She’s on a mission to kill the man who loves her. Why? Because he’s an idiot. Ten years ago, Nina Kimberly the Merciless was cheated out of the life of adventure that she truly deserves. Her father, the fearsome barbarian conqueror Marcus the Merciless, met his first and only defeat at the hands of, well… a gopher hole. Ever since this epic humiliation, she and the rest of the horde have been stuck in the rural backwater kingdom of Langia. Now Francis IX, the idiotic king, has decided that he and Nina should be married. She can’t kill him without starting a succession war, but the alternatives? Eww! Nina has long yearned for a hero to sweep her up on a glorious quest, but Francis’ unwanted affections have forced her hand. No more waiting for a quest to find *her*, it’s time to get proactive. She sets off into the big wide world, but the King decides to tag along, complete with a security spell to alert the Kingdom if he’s killed. Nina is forced to swallow her pride and keep him safe… at least until she can find a way to break the spell. But nothing is ever simple in the life of a barbarian princess, and nothing is ever quite what it appears. The dragon is a pacifist (sometimes). The handsome rogue is a con-artist, but who is he conning? And even the wizard has a few surprises in store. While seeking the answer to all her problems, Miss the Merciless discovers that what she’s always wanted may not actually be what she *wants*. *Nina Kimberly the Merciless* is a comic coming of age story filled with magic, mayhem and mercenaries, but mercy? Never. (stolen from Podioboks site)

Production: Ms. Ellis recognizes in her introduction to the first episode that the first production might have been responsible for some bleeding ears. I took this as a good omen and I was justified in this hope. The production quality and all of the voices were completely satisfactory. In the remastered version you receive two chapters in each episode, and often the episodes approach and surpass an hour in length. Two areas of the production did catch my notice however. The first being the audio levels. I tend to listen to podcasts while commuting and working on household chores. I use my iPhones earbuds regularly during both activities (only one ear when driving 😉 ) and I noticed the audio levels rising and falling at several points during various episodes. Not so much that I had to be adjust volume, but much more than variation in character voices provide. Not a big deal, but still there. Second of course would be The Story So Far. Ms. Ellis did it a bit differently by simply saying, “Previously on Nina Kimberly…” and kept these recaps very short, especially in the early eps. If you’re going to have to do a TSSF, short is definitely better. However, it is still a TSSF, and I have to say, “I HATES IT! I HATES IT FOREVER!” Interestingly, during a recent Twitter conversation, it came down pretty even on TSSF.

Cast: Nina Kimberly the Merciless is a straight read and the cast, when you really get down to it, isn’t overly large. Ms. Ellis does a very nice job with all the voices. Even Nina Kimberly wasn’t overly painful this time through. I will say, and I do mean this as a compliment, that I often forgot the two male leads were being voiced by a female. Good job!

Story: Whether in written form or in pod fiction, I feel there are too few books written in the fantasy genre that also have a humorous aspect. Maybe it is because there isn’t a large audience, or maybe the authors are all serious people. I don’t know, but when it is done well, I really enjoy a humorous fantasy story. Nina Kimberly the Merciless, as you would expect by that title, does indeed fall in this category.

Verdict: Nina Kimberly was a lot of fun. I have ordered the book and will be suggesting it to my wife. The story does contain a fair amount of sexual innuendo, so depending on your own standards, it might not be suitable for young children. The characters were engaging (yes, characters again) and I grew to really enjoy several of them. While the story contains a lot of humor, it also carries with it some very serious, complex ideas (yes, I’m being serious). Trust, friendship and loyalty are all explored fairly deeply. If you liked A Princess Bride (book or movie) there is a fair chance you might enjoy Nina Kimberly the Merciless.

Disclaimer: I do follow Ms. Ellis on Twitter (@christianaellis) [ding] although this is a relatively new arrangement. She is personable and witty/snarky. I have no idea whether she is even aware that the reviews exist, but I can verify that I was neither offered, nor did I accept anything in return for writing this review.

~ by odin1eye on 8 March, 2010.

10 Responses to “Podcast Review #19: Nina Kimberly the Merciless”

  1. I am not much of a fan of swords & dragons kind of stories, but I LOVE Nina Kimberly the Merciless, especially the new podiobook remastered edition.

    The story has plenty of humor, but it also has a wonderful plot with excellent handling of the characters. If you end up liking the stories as much as I do, you may want to consider listening to the Nina Kimberly Companion podcast episodes for a behind the scenes look.

    Christiana Ellis is my favorite podcast author. “Nina Kimberly the Merciless” & “Space Casey” are why. 🙂

    Oh and thanks to Odin1Eye for another very well done review. 🙂 I recommend reading his other podcast reviews & blog posts on this site.

    • Thanks Richard for your unwavering support. However, I also LOVE it when you disagree with me. I’m not speaking for anyone but myself and I don’t claim to be, but you always state your opinions completely and with backing reasons. Thanks again.

      • Yeah, now if only you didn’t have such darn good taste and took such care with your reviews, I could disagree more often with you. At least about anything besides “the story so far” – I mean, get over it already! *hehe*
        Actually I can totally understand wanting to get on with the story, so I can’t even give you too hard a time about that. *darn-it*

  2. I read the print version and enjoyed it quite a bit. I am not a big fan of fantasy, but I think the humor sealed it for me, much the way Tee Morris’ Billibub Baddings books do.

    As for TSSF, I’ve heard mixed reviews as well. I put them in my first podcast novel, but am leaning against them for the second one. What we need is a file format that allows episodic download but also allows easy forwarding past intro sections for those who want to skip them.

    • I’ve ordered the print version and I really do think that it is a book my wife will enjoy. Humor is definitely a quality missing from genre and I love it when it is done well. I know that certain VERY good sites require mp3 file formats, however I like the m4p or AAC file type that itunes supports. It does provide chapter capabilities and would allow for the skipping of TSSF. That would be beautiful for me. Thanks for the great comment, and I’m looking forward to starting your book this week!

  3. See I love, love, LOVED Space Casey, but I jogged my memory banks and actually remember listening to the first few eps of this (before the remaster) and I couldn’t get into it for the reason you stated (voice). Glad to know the remaster has fixed that.

    • Thanks for the comment Scott. Yes, the voice is MUCH better. To be fair, it Nina can still become a bit whiney at times, but is no where NEAR as painful as it was before. Give it a shot, I think you’ll like it.

  4. Here’s another podcast novel that I had to kick myself in the ass for not getting to sooner. One of the most humorous looks at fantasy I’ve seen in a long time. Most humourous fantasy I’ve seen outside of Piers Anthony or Terry Pratchet. Can’t wait for the sequel.

    • I agree with you on this one. I really enjoyed it and was thinking more of Robert Lynn Asprin (forgive the spelling) as well.. Truly a funny story.

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