- Roland’s Path
- R.J. Hanson
- January 8, 2020
- Michael Badger
- Heirs of Vanity, Book 1 (Bloodlines Reforged Saga)
As I do, I make my bias’ known at the start of my review. I’m an admin on the official Facebook group (because), I run the official wiki for the saga. I’m a one-time beta reader for the Lords of Order and Chaos series (same saga, same world), and …. for once, this wasn’t a review copy. I bought this because I’m a fan and wanted to see how this different narrator did the dialogue. Let’s just say there’s a section dedicated to his narration.
I’m obviously a fan of this saga, this world, and these characters. This is actually my first full read (listen) of Roland’s Path since I discovered this saga in August 2021. I was surprised at not only how much lore there was packed into book 1, but also just how much of it I had forgotten. As I run the official wiki now, I paid much closer attention to details this time around and I was caught off guard several times. I originally listened to and reviewed the Heirs of Vanity audiobook and I always found it overwhelming to write a review for large anthologies.
One downside to the audiobook version is you don’t have the benefit of a map. Though in fairness to the ebook (Kindle Paperwhite) and the physical versions, it’s in black and white and at the back of the book. I’m not entirely versed on what is where in the saga and I really feel it could have been elaborated more on which directions everything was in, in relation to each other. Travel, in general, was glossed over a little too much in my opinion. I think it would have been interesting to see a little more of the world. It feels like the protagonists travel all over Stratvs rather quickly.
While I think the combat scenes are exciting and if you look deeper, a lot of them are real scenarios that happened in tabletop games; the real reason this story exists is to world build. From the creatures to the laws, languages, and cultures, R.J. Hanson never misses an opportunity to tell you this world has lore and a lot of it.
I like that the story tells you that Roland and Eldryn are friends, but also shows it. It references their past, occasionally their future, and even in their dialogue and interactions. You can tell they’re genuine friends with deep, brotherly love. Roland and Eldryn are introduced to a man by the name of Ashcliff, who they seem to trust pretty easily. While I think they should be cautious, they’re both young men and therefore this is entirely in the realm of believability. It really feels like a cumming of age story where these three young men try to find their place in the world. I find it all the more amusing and endearing when they begin to tutor a young man they meet on their journeys.
Book 1 ends on a cliffhanger ending. I hate and I mean HATE cliffhanger endings with a passion. As I did with my re-review of Minion by L.A. Banks…., I’m going to make excuses. I’m super-fan #1 over here, alright. Damn right I’m going to make excuses! It’s an ongoing story. Book 1 of this series and the Lords of Order and Chaos series are meant to intrigue you. If you like book 1, you’ll like the rest, because it’s more of the same. Think of book 1 as more of a part 1, much like Minion and The Awakening in the Vampire Huntress Legend being two halves of the same story. In this case, 3 parts (for now).
I’d recommend against purchasing the Heirs of Vanity omnibus. My copy is signed and personalized and I’ll be damned if I’m going to open that unwieldy tome and accidentally damage the spine. The paperbacks are all cheap and easy reading. I do recommend the Heirs of Vanity audiobook over the Roland’s Path audiobook. Partly because it’s the only way to listen to books 2 and 3 currently and partly because good god, this narrator is terrible.
As for this narrator, as I said, he’s awful. He reads all of the dialogue, narration, character interactions, etc. in the same tone of voice. What’s even the point of having a narrator if every single character is going to sound exactly the same? It doesn’t help to know who is speaking at any given time. It’s boring and lifeless. The only time he seemed to be the least bit excited was when he was reading combat scenes. He sounded as bored with his narration as I was with it.
I normally reserve the narration bit for last, but I have no idea where else to put this. In the past, I’ve said there was too much “character name said” in dialogue for my liking. That was an issue at the start, and then it stopped or I stopped noticing it. I think this is an audiobook issue as I didn’t take note of it when I was beta reading the first 3/4ish of Stalking Shadows, book IV in the Lords of Order and Chaos series. Unless my previous criticisms were taken into consideration.