Listening to this series was a revelation. I’ve read the series several times, but I never listened to the books. When I got the series on Kindle, it was unavailable as an audiobook. When finally it became available, it took a while to collect all three books. I’m still collecting other series by Carol Berg on audio. And I’ve been busy with other reviewing commitments. Finally it was time to give myself a treat. I settled in to reread the series through my ears.
Listening to this beautifully narrated series, I heard much I had missed when I read it. I read too fast, so I read books at least twice. Even so, I miss stuff, often a lot. When I listen, I cannot listen faster than a human narrator can read and I discover entirely new dimensions. Audiobooks have a unique ability to create a movie in my head. I see characters, hear them, see their world.
Carol Berg’s worlds are magic. The fantastical is normal. Those who wield magic are powerful, but not invulnerable. Sometimes, their magic makes them more vulnerable and puts them in danger. And there’s alway a price to pay.
Seyonne spent 16 years as a slave. He is beaten, branded. Horribly mistreated. Subjected to the destruction of his religion, morals and powers. When he is acquired by the spoiled, bad-tempered Prince Aleksander, his situation does not improve.
Aleksander is as cruel a master as any he has had. But there is something about Aleksander, something different. Seyonne only catches it in flashes. One day he looks into Seyonne’s eyes and what he sees changes everything. Aleksander is destined — unless he is stopped before he has the opportunity — to save the world.
The Rai Kirah — demons — are trying to destroy Aleksander. Kill him, discredit him. Prevent him from becoming the official heir to the empire. With Seyonne’s help, Aleksander can defeat the plot. Working together to save the world from demons, the two men save each other, physically and spiritually and form an extraordinary friendship.
Victim and persecutor evolve together. Seyonne and Prince Aleksander, heir to the Derzhi Empire, learn to trust each other. Considering the amount of wrong Seyonne and his people suffered at the hands of Aleksander’s family, there’s a long road to travel. In the process, both transform. They save each others’ lives. Their fates are intricately linked. I found their relationship deeply touching.
Despite some childish nonsense from other reviewers, two people of the same-sex who love one another are not necessarily homosexual. If they were, I wouldn’t care, but in this case, they are not. In my world, loving non-sexual relations are called “friendship.” To those who have a problem with this, get over it. Drinking beer and watching a game is not necessarily the highest level to which a friendship can rise.
In the course of Rai Kirah, a selfish, cruel monarch transforms into a compassionate man and ultimately, a great ruler. The former slave rises while a king’s fortunes rise and fall. Both are redeemed. More or less.
There’s plenty of action. Battles are fought, magic is wielded, blood is spilled. The writing is intelligent and the author never takes the cheap way out. The plot is complicated. No “deus ex machina” appears to fix problems.
Rai Kirah is beautifully crafted. The story is riveting. There’s a very satisfying amount of action, romance (think “Dumas” rather than “Harlequin“), nobility, fantastical realms and magic.
Hearing on audio was a far more satisfying experience than reading it. If get buy the audiobook and the Kindle version, whichever you buy first, you get a substantial discount on the other. I suggest you should buy Kindle first. The discount is more substantial on Audible. You can then, through Whispersync, literally listen while you read, a “follow the bouncing ball” reading experience.
I don’t have enough glowing adjectives to tell you how very much I love Carol Berg as an author, the worlds she creates. Her characters, stories. Everything. I’m a fan. Big time.