Podcast Review 80: Maiden Flight of the Avenger

Title: Maiden Flight of the Avenger
Author: Alex White
Genre: Alternate Reality/Fantasy
Released: 19 December 2010 – 3 May 2011
Located: Author’s Site, iTunes
Formats Available: podcast and epub

Rating: PG for Violence

The story of how Alex White and I first became acquainted and how he became the very first person to ask me to listen to their podcast work of fiction is related here. That was 58 reviews ago. Over a year. In that time Mr. White hasn’t been idle. Besides holding down a full time job and being a father and a husband, he has released a soundtrack (here) to accompany a new work of audio fiction, Maiden Flight of the Avenger.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis:

No synopsis was provided on the author’s site or at iTunes (at least not that I could find). I would recommend that any author putting out new or supplemental material go ahead and spend a few minutes writing a synopsis. A synopsis is truly the first hurdle for me in deciding what new fiction to pick up.

So… The Maiden Flight of the Avenger is a prequel (I think) to The Gearheart. This novella focuses on the character of Augustus Elsworth, his dalliance with the dark art of alchemy and the creation of his beloved biplane. (Stolen from.. no, wait.. created by me. Now you know why I don’t create the synopsis when I can avoid it.)

[Ed. update: Mr. White has since updated his site to contain a synopsis for this book. He pulled it from the ebook at Amazon. I completely overlooked the fact that there would have been one there, and hadn’t looked.]

Production: Let me say this here and now. Since I’ve begun podcasting these reviews, I have an even greater respect for the podcasters I review. I am beginning to understand how much time and effort the production of these works must entail in a way I never have before. That being said, I’m revamping my grading just a bit. No, I’m not making it easier. Then again, probably not making it any harder either. My scale has my sound at a C. I’m average (well, at least I’d like to think so).

So, Maiden Flight of the Avenger? I guess I’m expecting a bit of argument from some here. So be it.

Mr. White has done an excellent job of creating a musical soundtrack to accompany this novella. It is for sale as linked above. The music is well done. When inserted into the podcast however, at times it is a bit “heavy” overburdening the voicework.

I also felt the voicework itself was a bit abruptly edited. I don’t know if this was due to an addition in the cast (more below) or if my criteria has changed a bit over the last year since The Gearheart concluded. Regardless, it felt a bit choppy to me.

Finally, in episodes 2 through 8 the audio from Mr. White’s characters was, um, well… a mess. Still not being in any way an audio engineer, I have no real way to explain it in technical terms. In my limited experience it sounded like the “gate” effect was set to high clipping the audio, or perhaps the compression was the issue. Both? Neither? I have no idea. (While some traces of this can be heard in the female voices as well, it isn’t as evident as in the male voices.) Still, it was enough to completely draw me away from the story and required me to re-listen using my laptop speakers instead of my preferred headphones. (As a test, I listened to audio from several other podcasts to verify it wasn’t my headphones. It wasn’t.)

Again, I’m not saying I could do as well. I couldn’t. And I still am respectful to the work this must have entailed.

Grade: C+ (again, using myself as the ruler of a C/C-)

Cast: One of my absolute favorite things about the podcast version of The Gearheart was Renee White’s voicing of Isabella and Cog. This hasn’t changed. Mr. White also did a very nice job voicing the male characters. This, perhaps, is why I was a bit surprised to find the addition of a third voice to a much smaller work. This voicework was provided by Brooke Fox. Don’t get me wrong, she does a fine job. Really. I guess we just anticipate the things we like staying the way they were. Wait, did I just define nostalgia? Hmmmm…

Grade: A

Story: As any prequel is, Maiden Flight of the Avenger seems to be an exercise to further explore a supporting character in The Gearheart universe. I have to admit that during the latter parts of episode 1, I kept feeling the sensation of deja vu, not being able to shake the feeling that I had seen parts of this story in a different episode 1. Thank God Jarjar didn’t appear.

Episode 1 provides a motivation for the work that will be completed by our heroes throughout the story. This motivation seems to be completely changed by episode 2. There is a brief mention of this and the why behind it, but I would have liked that original concept to have stayed in play a bit longer. Suffice it to say, without spoilers, that the conclusion would have nullified the ability to achieve that motivation regardless.

Grade: B+

Verdict: Fans of The Gearheart will want to make sure they subscribe to Maiden Flight of the Avenger as it really does try to flesh out some of the backstory that is alluded to in that seminal work. With a good synopsis, I can also see this novella pulling listeners/readers into The Gearheart universe.

Shameless plug: Don’t forget, if you send an audio comment to me at Odin1eye at viewfromvalhalla dot com, I’ll include it in the podcast version of this episode next weekend (or when I receive it). You can also leave voicemail, for this or any other story, at the Valhalla Hotline simply by calling 956-307-ODIN (6346)

Disclosure: I do follow Mr. White on Twitter (@thegearheart). We converse on occasion and have sons approximately the same age. I’ve never met him off the net, but am assured he knows the difference between a real cigar and cloves rolled in newspaper.

Comment Pages

There are 7 Comments to "Podcast Review 80: Maiden Flight of the Avenger"

  • Brooke says:

    I understand your opinion that adding another voice actor for a smaller work seems superfluous, but I am so glad that Alex decided to let me come play. Regardless, thanks for the positive take on my acting. 🙂

  • Alex White says:

    Thanks for the review, Odin! I’m glad you had a chance to listen. Sorry about the audio issues! I’ve little doubt it was caused by a new system I’m trying, in combination with Levelator. I’m afraid I may have outgrown that tool, and it did more harm than good.

    You make a good point that I haven’t posted the synopsis from Amazon on my site! Just posted it here. Thanks so much for pointing that out!

    http://www.thegearheart.com/?page_id=2

    • odin1eye says:

      Well, you write it, I’ll listen to it. .^) Levelator is a tool I can understand causing issues. Interesting. I hadn’t thought to check the ebook for a synopsis. That was folly on my part. Sorry about that, and yes, yours is MUCH better than mine.

  • Excellent review. I just finished recording comments and I’ll send them right over. Glad to see you out and about Alex. Good to hear the twister didn’t carry you off or drop a house on you.

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