It is Boxing Day yet here I am writing a blog for you, my lovely readers, am I a hero? Or just rather sad. A short review and my narration of Michael R Fletcher’s latest book: Smoke and Stone
First for the blurb:
After a cataclysmic war of the gods, the last of humanity huddles in Bastion, a colossal ringed city. Beyond the outermost wall lies an endless desert, haunted by the souls of all the world’s dead.
Trapped in a rigid caste system, Nuru, a young street sorcerer, lives in the outer ring. She dreams of escape and freedom. When something contacts her from beyond the wall, she risks everything and leaps at the opportunity.
Mother Death, a banished god seeking to reclaim her place in Bastion’s patchwork pantheon, has found her way back into the city. Akachi, born to the wealth and splendor of Bastion’s inner rings, is a priest of Cloud Serpent, Lord of the Hunt. A temple-trained sorcerer, he is tasked with bringing peace to the troublesome outer ring.
Drawn into a dark and violent world of assassins, gangs, and street sorcerers, he battles the spreading influence of Mother Death in a desperate attempt to save Bastion.
The gods are, once again, at war.
Narrating Smoke and Stone by Michael R Fletcher was a blast. Sooo much easier than narrating the first book I did of his, namely Ghosts of Tomorrow. Fewer characters and fewer accents and fewer languages. Plus a tad shorter. I’m not saying my second book for Michael wasn’t hard, just a teensy bit easier than the first. On reflection, however, it might be that I’m just getting better at this narrating and editing lark, possibly. Indeed, that could very well be it! Maybe.
Joking aside, I loved narrating the book because it was such a good story and I could really get my actorly teeth into the characters, particularly Nuru and Akachi, and their opiate driven-actions.
This world that Michael has created, is so very different from anything else I’ve read, and yet there are so many echoes in our own legends and histories that chime with his narrative. The gritty and claustrophobic city setting, the layered society, the heavily structured and restrictive religious hierarchies, the many gods – both those with power, ruling humanity, and those banished from the city to be devoured within the vast red deserts, all that remains of the world – makes for an exhausting yet exhilarating read. In this ancient world, now in its last dying throes, the few remaining humans survive in a god-made city, whilst those very same gods scheme and fight, desperate for the blood and the souls of those last dregs of humanity. See? What’s not to love.
I truly hope listeners feel I have done this book justice with my narration.
All the best to all of you
Rosa B. Watkinson
AKA: R B Watkinson