This is an Apple Books audiobook narrated by a digital voice based on a human narrator.
In the far north of Altesse, amid giants' ruins and simmering volcanos, a shadow lies over the imperiled kingdom of Astarkand.
Carrying ancient relics, a blue-cloaked dragon knight has arrived in Hearthing. The minstrels give him a bigger swagger than he knows he deserves. The crown prince is furiously jealous of his fame and respect. The king secretly plots to bring him down while welcoming him at court. Does the dragon knight--Bjorn Horsa--have what it takes to outwit the king, or did he just get lucky with the dragon?
Good beginning to a series
It’s been years since I read fantasy, but I remember there being a slow build as the author develops the world. This book is the same way. It is Book 1 in a series. The setting of the stage, so to speak, is to be expected. I only preface this review by saying that in case someone only reads a couple of chapters and doesn’t want to continue. I urge them to continue because the payoff is worth it. There is considerable time used in establishing who the characters are and the world they are in before the event occurs that triggers the plot.
The prophecy that states Bjorn is supposed to rule the kingdom comes with resistance. The current king doesn’t want to give up his throne, so he seeks to kill Bjorn and those who will help him.
For people who enjoy fantasy, this will be a hit. World building is excellent. You feel like you are truly there. The characters are well developed. I especially like Weinolf since he struggles between staying true to his father (the current king) and the thought that Bjorn really might be the best ruler for the land. Stuff like that is intriguing to me. Even at the end of the book, I found the current king’s thoughts and actions surprisingly intriguing as well, though I can’t say what those are since that would spoil the ending.
A side quest takes Nicar in an adventure (of sorts) where he finds out that human sacrifices are being made to appease Voden. (I apologize if I spelled that wrong. I listened to the book so am not sure of the exact spelling.) Voden stands in sharp contrast to God. In fact, Nicar ends up finding a Bible that was long ago forgotten. I enjoyed this religious angle a lot, and I figure it will factor into a larger role as the series progresses.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy and Christian fiction.