Podcast Review #40: The Crown Conspiracy

originally published August 2, 2010

Title: The Crown Conspiracy
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Genre: Fantasy
Released: 11 July 2010 – 24 July 2010
Located: iTunes, Podiobooks
Formats Available: Podcast, Dead Tree version, electronic versions
Rating: G but with some mild violence and intense scenes

There are few people that get me excited by just telling me what the next project they are going to be working on is. Fewer still that can cause this excitement when they explain it isn’t their own story. Nathan Lowell is one of those for me. You see, I just respect the guy, and to this point, he hasn’t steered me wrong. So earlier this year when he started talking up fellow Ridan Publishing stablemate Michael J. Sullivan, I have to admit, my interest was piqued. I was even to the point where I was about to lay down $5 for the Kindle version (to read on my iPhone, LOL) when Mr. Lowell announced he would be turning it into a podcast. Well, I might trust Mr. Lowell, but “try before you buy” always appeals to me, and having it be a Nathan Lowell reading is sure to add value. At least that was my thought at the time.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: They killed the king. They pinned it on two men. They chose poorly.

There’s no ancient evil to defeat, no orphan destined for greatness, just two guys in the wrong place at the wrong time. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, make a profitable living carrying out dangerous assignments for conspiring nobles until they become the unwitting scapegoats in a plot to kill the king. Sentenced to death, they have only one way out…and so begins this tale of treachery and adventure, sword fighting and magic, myth and legend. (stolen from Podiobooks.com)

Production: The production of this work of podfiction is exactly the same as previous Lowell productions. I know he has just built a new recording booth, and it looks very nice and I hope Mr. Lowell found it comfortable, but to be honest, I didn’t notice any quality differences between this and previous works. On a positive note, I didn’t notice any differences between this and any of Mr. Lowell’s previous works. (Yes, I did mean to write that twice.) Mr. Lowell put every bit as much effort into this production as he has on any of his own. If you’re a fan, you know what I mean. One complaint, and I really don’t know whom it belongs to. There are only ten episodes. Don’t let that fool you into thinking this is some novella. It isn’t. Most of the eps clock in at close to, or over, an hour. And that is without any author/reader meta stuff going on. That is story. No no. That isn’t a complaint. The complaint is that when you download the entire story, the eps don’t load in a sequential order, so you might (if unwary) skip an episode and find out something you didn’t want to know. You have been warned.

Cast: Not much to say hear. Again, it is a Mr. Lowell straight read. Again, if you’re a fan, you know what that means. If you’ve been living somewhere that for some reason has banned Mr. Lowell’s podcasts, suffice it to say, he is a master of the straight read.

Story: Ah… the story. So far you’ve heard me talk a lot about Mr. Lowell. But that will be the last mention because the story belongs to Mr. Sullivan. And wow. WOW. What a story. I make no bones about it. When done well, fantasy is my favorite genre. Done well to me means creating believable characters and sticking them in situations where they behave believably. You can add never seen races and throw in some magic if you want (I mean you have to make it speculative somehow right?). I have heard rumblings when someones favorite series takes a shortcut into “it was God” and I must agree, unless that has been part of the story line all along, it is a cop out. Mr. Sullivan doesn’t use that device or any other, because this is a solid story that stands on its own merits and characters. One other thing I found to be true about Mr. Sullivan’s writing also brought me much joy. Have you ever read a book, and you wonder to yourself why the characters didn’t do certain obvious things before going to the extremely obscure but fun solution? Or at least ask the obvious questions? I have the feeling Mr. Sullivan has read these types of stories, because the characters do ask. They do think. They live.

Verdict: This is a fantastic book. Truly and simply fantastic. For those of you that despise dragons and magic, take heart, there are no dragons and little magic. There are some fantasy elements, but truly not that many. For me, the mark of a good story is wanting more. By the time the end was drawing nigh, it occurred to me I was going to be truly peeved if this was a one shot book. (Yes, I know, the full synopsis gives that away. I didn’t read it.) For those of you that have given up on the free model. Don’t listen to this work of podfiction. Seriously. Because if you’re reaction is remotely like mine, you’ll be heading to Ridan Publishing’s or Mr. Sullivan’s site to buy the electronic version of the Crown Conspiracy and it’s three existing sequels (with two more to follow) now and a bound copy for later.

Disclosure: I follow almost everyone involved with this book, including Mr. Lowell, Mr. Sullivan, and Ridan Press. I was also contacted by Mr. Sullivan’s publicist, Mrs. Robin Sullivan, about possibly doing a review for the book. At the time I had, I believe, one episode left to listen to. I ensured her it would be given consideration but there was never a promise implied. Also, nothing was offered or received in return for this review.

~ by odin1eye on 9 January, 2020.

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