Warden’s Will: The Will and the Way (Tyranny Cycle Book #1) by Heath Pfaff, narrated by Amy Landon
***Thank you goes directly to Amy Landon, the narrator of the audio book, for an ARC to review the book and her performance***
WARNING: Book contains violent imagery and death.
I was honored and excited when Amy Landon agreed to have me review her audio book performance for Warden’s Will by Heath Pfaff. It was a first for me and I of course jumped at the chance. I’ll admit I was skeptical at first mainly due to my realization that I am not fond of audio books that are fiction. The ones I have listened to prove to me that it is hard for a narrator to know exactly what the author set out to do in terms of voice and making the characters sound a certain way, making most of my experiences disappointing. It probably didn’t help that the two fantasy novels I listened to before this was from the Mortal Instruments series and I doubt I would have liked those books in any format.
But I digress.
I’m just going to say it, this book was highly entertaining. Pfaff knows how to tell a detailed story that can seem on the surface to stretch longer than it should, but in the end you are so invested by what is happening you don’t realize you’ve finished a section until you are rounding the page onto the next one.
Lillin is sent to the Black Mark Academy to begin her Warden Training. There’s just one thing, she didn’t choose this. She is a deady, one who was condemned to die for a crime, but instead has been sent to train as a Warden. Where others who voluntarily join the academy can leave at any time, she is doomed to either complete the training or die trying. She is tattooed with half a skull on half of her face, eternally marked so the world knows what she did and why she is at the Academy. As you can imagine, this does not make things easy for her.
GOOD POINT: Lillin was a rather snobby annoying character in the beginning, but the character development in this book has you rooting for her in no time. I loved that. Pfaff makes you grow with his character and I wanted nothing more than to see her succeed.
While it is suggested to Lillin that making friends would not be beneficial to her survival she manages to make at least two Zark and Orey (audio book, so basing on what it sounded like). Both are also deadies and as the trials come and go they learn to rely on one another in order to survive. Of course this doesn’t last long as the Academy seems hell bent on destroying any semblance of happiness in the student’s lives, even those that chose to be there.
GOOD POINT: I personally think the author did a good job on being inclusive. Humans aren’t a paint by numbers species, they all have their own personalities and I think this book was great in depicting each one as their own person. Granted we see more of certain characters and there are a lot of sub-characters, but I was never confused. I appreciate that.
It’s hard to say much more without giving away HUGE plot points, but needless to say I would very much enjoy continuing this series and would recommend to those who are fans of fantasy. Though there are some pretty violent and graphic moments, so if you are one who can’t handle detailed descriptions of injuries and blood maybe skip this for some lighter fare.
I’ve mentioned the character creation and development, which again in my opinion was top notch, but that’s not to say that everything was amazing. One thing that bothered me was instantly knowing this was written by a man, without even having to look at the name on the cover. How would I know that you may be asking yourself? Well it was because every female character, yes even his MC, was introduced or depicted based on the size and shape of their breasts.
Note to male writers, especially if your MC is female, WE DON’T THINK ABOUT OUR BREASTS AS MUCH AS YOU THINK WE DO!
It really got disappointing each time this came up. I swear I really liked this book, but these moments made me eye roll so hard and honestly had the book not been great in every other instance I probably wouldn’t have bothered finishing it simply because of this. There was also the constant putting down of the MC by herself. I don’t know what the point was to constantly have Lillin say to herself how ugly she was or unattractive. It didn’t bring anything to her character development and it provided no new information for the reader. We get that the tattoo is gruesome, but that should in no way diminish her being okay with how she looked prior to that.
As a female, it’s disappointing to read a female character who is in everything she does a bad-ass and then have her stop in the middle of all that awesomeness to talk about how ugly she is to herself in a mirror. Just based on this book, I know you can do better and you should strive to do so in the future.
GOOD POINT: The world building was detailed and visual. I felt like I was there most of the time and it was such a great experience. Of course there were many instances that this wasn’t great because anytime something was particularly gross I just screamed in my car, but this is a positive in that the author set out to make his world real and it was to me.
Now for the audio book, Amy Landon did a great job in the narration and in doing the voice of Lillin. She also managed to do a few accents for other characters and that was impressive. The only thing that irked me was her voices for the male characters. Unless they had one of those accents, they all managed to sound the same. This isn’t anything major by any means, but if you are going to go through the trouble of giving each character a voice, you should try harder on separating them.
Other than that her narration was smooth and this made it an easy listen. Her voice was almost made for narration and it was a nice thing to listen to on my commute to and from work. Despite my remark above, I do hope that the second book gets an audio book and that Amy does that one as well. What can I say, I like consistency.
BAD POINT: A blow by blow detailed description of an eye gouging. AHHHHHH!
4.5 Out of 5 Stars
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