Where I Got It: A review copy via Audiobook Jukebox (thanks!)
Narrator: Matt Franklin
Publisher: Joseph Buzzoni (2014)
Length: 4 hours 48 minutes
Series: I think this is Book 1 in The SnowRaven Chronicles, though it isn’t clear on Audible or GoodReads.
Snowraven Shaska is a warrior maiden of the mountain people of Arkel-nia. She was bred and born to a line of warriors, and raised in the inhospitable snowy-clad mountains. She doesn’t take crap from anyone, and her feats of courage and prowess in this novel prove it.
This book gets full marks simply because I enjoyed the hell out of it. Shaska is the female version of Conan the barbarian, running around defeating monsters and human foes alike, with or without clothes. This is the kind of book Robert E. Howard could have written if he had been able to forgo the racism and sexism that permeate his work.
The story starts simply with Shaska playing shepherdess to a flock of sheep – sheep that dig for insects to munch on. So maybe they aren’t as placid and cuddly as the sheep we know. She also has a talking fox companion (Lynx? I can’t recall his name exactly). He plays the fun fool to Shaska’s seriousness.
The action starts pretty quickly with this large, hideous beast man, Volg (spelling?), showing up to decimate her sheep. Later, she must fight Lord Vorata (spelling?), who is a giant glowing insect. For centuries, the mountain folk have made human sacrifice to the large insects in exchange for these glowing orbs that provide light and warmth. Later, she fights a wizard. More fights occur. Sometimes Shaska loses her clothes during the fight. Occasionally, she chooses to remove her clothes before the fight. I don’t get that, but I can still admire her lithe, muscular form (which is described often throughout the tale).
OK, so while I found it silly how often Shaska got naked, she still kicked ass every single time. It was awesome. There are other warriors who help or hinder her as they will. Then there are the monsters or modified humans (there is even one with tentacles!) who range in cleverness and viciousness. Plenty of weapons are employed throughout the tale.
Along with all the cool imagery is a touch of flowery prose. A few ‘thee’s and ‘thys’ are employed. It gives the whole story the feeling of an ancient epic tale being told by a bard. It is well suited to this adventure quest!
Sadly, there is no sex in this book. There are perhaps 2 or 3 innuendos, and with our heroine losing her clothes so often, how could there not be? 😉
Narration: Matt Franklin, who also narrated The Thol-ra, did another excellent job with this book. His voice definitely added to the bardic feel of this tale. He had a nice range of voices for the humans. His voices for the monsters, modified humans, and Shaska’s companion fox were awesome. Who else could do a slobbering, giant, glowing insect so well?
What I Liked: Shaska is such a serious warrior; her fox companion; the various fights scenes and bad guys; the epic bardic feel to the tale; excellent cover art; awesome narration.
What I Disliked: Having Shaska fight nude so many times is a little silly.