Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eternal Rider – Lords of Deliverance, Book 1

1. Eternal Rider (April 7, 2011) 3 out of 5
2. Immortal Rider (expected 2011)

Author:  Larissa Ione
Narrator:  Hillary Huber - 3.5 out of 5
Length:  12:33, purchased on audible 

You know this story, or so you think.  The Bible and the Demonica predict the way the world will end, but the end is not yet certain.  The fate of mankind rests upon the shoulders of the four horsemen.  Ares, war. His brother, Thanatos, death.  Their sister, Limos, famine.  They are half succubus and half angel, cursed to be the heralds of the end of days.  So long as they do not succumb to evil, so long as their seals remain whole, this world has a chance. These siblings fight to hold off the Apocalypse after the seal of their brother, Reseph, is broken.  Now called pestilence, Reseph, beyond redemption, is determined to break Ares’s seal.  All he has to do is kill the seal-bearer, for if two seals break, so shall the rest.

Enter Cara Thornhart, a human with the gift to heal sick animals.  Just her luck that one night, a hellhound pup with a silver bullet wound is dropped off on her door step.  In a classic case of no good deed goes unpunished, Cara saves the puppy which makes the so-called good guys torture her after they assume she’s a demon.  Ultimately, saving the pup gets Cara cursed to be Ares’s seal-bearer, which makes her the target of Pestilence and every demon itching for the end of the world.  It is also a slow but inevitable death-sentence as the seal was never meant to be housed in a human body.  As soon as Cara dies so will the rest of the world.

Surprisingly Good Sappy/Badass Romance:
I have a strict NST [no shit-talking] policy, see FAQ below, and therefore many of the audiobooks I listen to never get reviewed. Without naming names or pointing fingers, I can safely say that half of the audiobooks I refuse to review fall under the category of the-biggest-most-badass-preternatural-mofo-ever-who’d-kill-you-for-a-dollar-falls-for-innocent-helpless-blond-because-she-just-that-pretty-so-hard-it’s-twilight-and-then-they-have-lots-and-lots-of-sex.  Frankly, I can willfully suspend my disbelief in werewolves, demons, zombies, witches, fairies and vampires, but any scenario where a sociopath who, by falling for Barbie, turns into Ken, is just too saccharine for me to swallow.  However, much like with Twilight, so many people went crazy over Eternal Rider that I bought the audiobook fully intending to give it a listen and forget about it.

I was pleasantly surprised.  Don’t get me wrong – this book fits squarely in the-biggest-most-badass-preternatural-mofo-ever-who’d-kill-you-for-a-dollar-falls-for-innocent-helpless-blond-because-she-just-that-pretty-so-hard-it’s-twilight-and-then-they-have-lots-and-lots-of-sex category. Don’t believe me? Just listen to the intro then skip to the epilogue. Told yah.  But it worked for me because the main story is about something bigger than boy (or rather immortal harbinger of death) meets girl. The fate of the world is at stake, and Ares and Cara, their feelings and issues, are on the sidelines.  There’s also plenty of action, the narration moving in third-person over the deeds of the good, the bad, and the ugly, as the big players take sides in the coming Celestial battle.  I was particularly impressed by how appealing Cara was.  She’s definitely an ingénue – innocent, sweet, only two previous long-term lovers, strictly missionary, you get the picture.  But we are introduced to Cara while she is saving the life of the ugliest mutt known to man, and her selflessness comes across not only as genuine but as active rather than passive. She is proactively good.  I also want to praise Larissa Ione like I should for the way she described Ares’s emotions.  Describing the badass male’s point of view when he’s falling for a girl is usually what makes me put down the audiobook and reach for a spoon on which to gag. Never happened with Eternal Rider. Larissa Ione manages to maintain the integrity of Ares as the epitome of war while getting across how hard he fell for Cara.  There are lines in this audiobook that basically state, “was he developing a crush, he wondered?  Man, he needed to go kill something.” It’s enough to hint at attraction while bringing back that chocking amount of testosterone the badass male is supposed to have that makes the listener smile.

So why only a 3?  I had issues with the ending. There was so much build up, so many lives at stake, so many ways that a happy ending seemed absolutely impossible throughout this audiobook.  I reveled in that tension, paying close attention to any possible foreshadowing in the supporting characters and small details that could unravel that mystery.  I even came up with a few scenarios on how the story could work out, but in none of these scenarios could there be a happy ending on all counts. It seemed downright impossible.  And then – puff - a deus ex machina, and quite literally.  In no way could a listener have possibly foreseen the ending, and when audiobooks end like that I feel - well, happy, sure, everyone loves a happy ending, but I also feel a bit cheated.  
On Narration:
Hillary Huber’s voice is rather soft but still mature and age-appropriate.  Her reading of the sex scenes was well done and her male voices are believable enough not to take away from the story.  I enjoyed her reading of Limos, who sounds like a California surfer girl and from Larissa Ione’s descriptions that seems very accurate. The only thing I didn’t quite like was that the general narrative voice from Cara's point of view, which I think was supposed to sound shocked but came off sounding a little bit bored.

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