Podcast Review #45: Call of the Herald

Title: Call of the Herald
Author: Brian Rathbone
Genre: Fantasy
Released: 6 May 2009 – 20 May 2009
Located: iTunes, Podiobooks, Author’s Site
Formats Available: Podcast, Dead Tree version, electronic version
Rating: PG for violence

There are times I hear people in my network talking about a certain person or podiobook with great esteem and interest that I know little to nothing about. I am always open for a great new story and especially like those “sleeper” hits that are just starting to become popular, or maybe haven’t quite made it yet.

This seemed to be the case with Brian Rathbone and his Dawning of Power series. So I downloaded book one, Call of the Herald, and dove right in.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Echoes of the ancients’ power are distant memories, tattered and faded by the passage of eons, but that is about to change. A new dawn has arrived. Latent abilities, harbored in mankind’s deepest fibers, wait to be unleashed. Ancient evils awaken, and old fears ignite the fires of war. In times such as these, ordinary people have the power to save the world . . . or destroy it. (Stolen for Podiobooks.com)

Production: The production of Call of the Herald isn’t the best I’ve heard, but it is FAR from the worst. If production values alone keep you from listening to a podcast, you have no reason to avoid Call of the Herald.

Cast: Mr. Rathbone provides a straight read version of his novel here. (It seems to have been a while since I’ve done a full cast review.) Mr. Rathbone provides little in the way of intonation or voicing for his characters, but I really didn’t find that to be an issue. You’re almost always sure which character is speaking.

Story: Call of the Herald is a typical fantasy questing novel with the characters holding secrets and eventually becoming greater than they ever thought they’d be. If you have ever read a fantasy questing novel, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, you probably still know what I mean and have avoided them for a reason.

Verdict: Okay, so, I guess I need to just make a clean slate here. No beating around the bush. I didn’t hate Call of the Herald, but it was close. The best I can say about it, is “meh”. The characters never grabbed me, and some of them I actually disliked (and not the ones that I was supposed to either). The plot was two dimensional at best and I never was truly surprised by anything that happened along the way. The narration style in the first couple of eps is exceedingly painful. I don’t know if I became immune in later eps or if the style improved. If Mr. Rathbone did change his style, it would be to advantageous to go back and re-record these early episodes.

With cardboard cutouts for characters and a cliché plot line, I have to say I can not recommend Call of the Herald. As a caveat, I will say the rest of the series is a bit better, however, I only ever review a single story at a time.

Disclosure: I have never met or tweeted with Mr. Rathbone. I really have heard some nice things about him and what he is doing in the publishing and podcasting areas and respect these efforts very much. I was not offered nor did I accept anything from anyone in return for this review.

Comment Pages

There are 14 Comments to "Podcast Review #45: Call of the Herald"

  • Ouch! I’m not as big a fan of fantasy as Odin (not that I don’t like it), so I will probably pass on this one.

    Not only am I sure that Odin welcomes dissenting opinions for all his reviews; he actually tweeted the following, “Feel free to make your feelings known on this one. I did, but you may feel differently.” So if you liked it, or at least liked it more than he did; please feel free to comment.

    For those interested, there are links to other reviews at http://www.brianrathbone.com/wordpress/reviews-interviews-and-guest-posts/

    And thanks to people who recommend your podiobook sleeper gems, even though it may not have worked out (at least for Odin) this time.

    • odin1eye says:

      Thanks Richard… and I really am hoping that someone will champion the book, because I know there are fans. Probably quite a few. Mr. Rathbone, from what I’ve heard, sounds like a superlative individual as well. This one just wasn’t for me. One more note that I hinted at in the review, I don’t review a series as a series. Each book stands on its own. The series did improve, but if I didn’t suffer from “black jelly bean” syndrome, I never would have known.

  • Thomas says:

    ok, i agreed with most of what you said here, Odin, except, I actually enjoyed it. Of course, there isn’t much in fantasy i truly dislike. It was an easy listen for me, once i got used to his delivery. Yes, it was predictable, but there where a few things i expected to come into play and they didn’t and the other way around. I was content with the outcome and felt satisfied with how the story got there. You and I usually see eye-to-eye on stories, but this one i liked or you didn’t.

    • odin1eye says:

      Excellent Thomas! I am glad to find someone that was able to enjoy it. I don’t know if you come back to the comment section, but if you do, let me ask, are you basing your overall satisfaction off of the series, or this book? Also, did you feel the reading style changed over the course of the series, or was that just me?

  • Thomas says:

    I am probably talking about the whole series. and yes, his reading did improve. seemed to get more inflection into it.

    • odin1eye says:

      Thanks! I do appreciate the feedback, and whether it was inflection or just NOT drawing out the reading like a Baptist minister (I can say that, I’ve been a Baptist), it really did improve for me. Not enough to change what I felt of the story, but at least some.

  • TerminusVox says:

    I agree though my feelings weren’t as strong as yours.
    Re: narration style – I would say that Mr Rathbone hit his stride after the first few episodes which are somewhat stilted.
    Re: the series – I found the second book to be more engaging. I haven’t yet listened to the third but I will listen just to see where the chips fall.

    • odin1eye says:

      Thanks so much for the comment! I wasn’t sure as when I listen to a podcast, I listen to multiple eps in a day, but I remember hating it, and then all of a sudden, thinking “Wait, something has changed.”

      Again, thanks for the comment and get some sleep!

  • Laura says:

    I quite enjoyed this story, the whole series as a matter of fact. While I don’t disagree with your evaluation, I suppose it didn’t stop me from loving the book. Thanks, Odin.

    • odin1eye says:

      Thanks Laura. I am really surprised with your comment. Not so much that you liked it, but that you’re the nth person that has agreed with my evaluation but still likes it. I enjoy that diversity and am glad that the books have found an audience. Thanks for sharing!

  • Scott Roche says:

    This is one of the things i love about your blog. While you don’t write negative reviews very often, you know how to write one and you’re not afraid to. It speaks volumes about your integrity.

    “(It seems to have been a while since I’ve done a full cast review.)”

    I think I know of one I can recommend. 😉

  • While listening to this book, my mind kept going back to memories of the movie, Never Ending Story. I listened to it at the very beginning of my podcasting experience and found it a bit long in places but enjoyable. I knew, before I was done with the book, that he was doing more A series just has that pace, to me, that gives it away and I am not a fan of very many series stories. I have not listened to the second or third.
    Your review is your opinion and you are very fair. We all like different types of tea. (or cookies!)

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