Narration and Review of The Shard by Ted Cross

The Shard CoverHere’s the Story:

So I’ve just finished narrating this enormous high epic fantasy called The Shard by Ted Cross. A book I chose to narrate because I loved it. And what a book it is; so many characters with so many different accents, so many adventures with all the highs and lows of real life. The emotions I had to portray… at times I was brought to tears. Yes, this was a tough one to narrate. Don’t worry, I enjoyed it too, who wouldn’t enjoy working on such a great story.

There were many reasons it took me such a long time apart from its word count. During the time I was narrating and editing and producing this audiobook; I struggled with a failed marriage, a failed house sale, and the need for income. It had to be shelved many times as I took work for money upfront, but I came back to it as much as I could. I can only hope listeners enjoy the story as much as it deserves to be enjoyed, not because I narrated it, I hasten to add, but because it’s a bloody good yarn. Now it is finished and we, Ted and I, await the long slow process of ACX’s quality control. I do hope that those who listen to it think it well worth the wait.

Here’s the Blurb:

A dying king. A mysterious invader. The seer’s vision was clear: find the lost shard from the Spire of Peace or the realm would drown in blood.

The problem: eight hundred years ago the elven hero Kathkalan took the shard with him into the lair of the most vicious dragon ever known to mankind…and he never returned.

Reluctantly drafted to lead the quest is the minor noble Midas, torn between his duty to the realm and the desire to protect his sons. With an unlikely band of heroes, including two elderly rangers and a young tinker’s son, Midas must risk losing everything he loves if he is to locate the shard and save the Known Lands.

Here’s my Review of the Book:

When you realise the author’s background you get an idea why The Shard is so good, his own story is pretty amazing. The author, Ted Cross, spent two decades travelling the world as a diplomat, he’s visited nearly forty countries and lived in seven, including the U.S., Russia, China, Croatia, Iceland, Hungary, and Azerbaijan. He’s witnessed coup attempts, mafia and terrorist attacks, played chess with several world champions…

This is a story about love, war and revenge too, but mainly love. The love a father has for his sons, his people, his friends, and a woman. A boy for his brother, for new friends made on a journey. An elf woman for friends and companions long lost, and ones new found. A ranger for his friend and partner ranger, a friendship borne of years working together through times of danger and times of peace. A wizard trying to save a world he has come to love, driven by dreams that tell of possible futures, finding his way through what is and what could be and what was.

The main character driving the story is Midas, a man of deep feelings. He’s only a minor lord, pushed by circumstances beyond his control into becoming responsible for the success of a crucial quest. He is a member of a party trying to find the Shard, a piece of crystal containing a power that could save the Known Lands, lands under threat from an army of creatures that are alien and indomitable. He is a father first, conflicted by his decision to allow his sons to accompany him into battle. The death of his first son, who was killed by a troll for which he cannot forgive himself, pains him still. We really get into his head, feel his anguish, his joy, his unutterable sorrow, his burgeoning love for a woman of timeless beauty within and without. We get to know his sons through him, their love and pride in their father, their wish to make him proud in return.

Geldrath is a happy boy who has just left his family for the first time to serve as a recruit and is excited to see the world beyond his village, and to be with his brother, who is already a soldier on The Gate. He makes great friends on his journey with dwarves and the sons of a lord. His life takes a dark turn, however, and he struggles and despairs, but he finds strengths inside to overcome adversity and his own terrors. We are with him when he almost breaks from fear and then from loss, when loss of hope turns to joy, when despair turns pride, and as he grows from a boy to a man.

Alvanaria is an ancient elf woman. She has great depths containing great sorrows and joys from a life long lived, from loves found and lost over the aeons. She has compassion and humanity and wisdom. She’s a fighter, she has magic, she’s a woman who finds love even though she wasn’t looking for it nor wanted it. I love her strength and how she uses her magic in such subtle ways, how driven she is to find the truth of how an old love was lost, and how she slowly falls into love again.

Edo is a ranger, part of the army that guards The Gate. A life-weary man with a side-kick and a terrible toothache. I thought at first he was the light entertainment, but no, he’s a man of morals, strength, and street-wise intelligence. His friendship with mute Orcbait, his co-ranger of many years, is wonderful. He is moved by the life and death needs of an entire people, a people who were so very recently a great enemy to his own kingdom.

Xax is an ancient wizard who we discover is not of this world, but his origins remain a mystery. He believes he knows a way to end the war coming to the Known Lands and he manipulates others into helping him find the Shard. He is compassionate yet ruthless, he is clear-sighted yet confused by his dreams, he is insightful yet surprised by the actions of an old friend turned into a terrible enemy. His magic, though strong, bleeds his strength. This is something I like, that he can become very weak, even collapse when using magic, and needs the help of mundane people to survive.

The Shard is a thrilling adventure that anyone who loves high fantasy epic would enjoy. All those characters to journey with, to take you to many different places, who make you worry about them and guess about what might happen next. The descriptions of places and creatures is well done, I could really see and feel them. You will not be disappointed by this read. Or indeed this listen (I hope).

A map is needed, or rather, not needed but very much wanted. I bet I’m not alone in believing that all ebooks should now come with a downloadable code for a map. Obviously all actual books should have maps inside, perhaps even fold-out maps, that allow you to follow the journey of the protagonists, that’s a given, right? Right!

Meanwhile, whilst the Covid-19 virus still spreads like wildfire across the globe and many are suffering and living in fear, I ask the universe to help us to be caring and to be kind to all of those around us and in the wider world during these terrible times.

All the best to all of you

Rosa B Watkinson

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