Podcast Review #87: The Ballad of Iron Percy

Title: The Ballad of Iron Percy
Author: Edward Clark
Produced: Veronica Giguere
Genre: Fantasy
Released: 30 April 2010 – 15 October 2010
Located: Author’s Site, iTunes, Podiobooks
Formats Available: podcast only (I believe)

Rating: Strong R/NC 17 for language, violence and frequent sexual situations

Quite a while ago, I listened to season 1 of Secret World Chronicles. Not long after I listened to season 2, then season 3. I’ve had that series recommended to me many times for review as well. Let me state now, that will more than likely never happen. Why? I try to leave as much as my own personal distaste for sub-genre types out of reviews. I simply wouldn’t be able to do this with Secret World Chronicles. I truly find shared universes distasteful. At best. The writing, by nature, ends up being incredibly uneven. A character I might love, when written by one author, becomes shallow and unenjoyable when written by another. Being as character driven as I am, it is very hard for me to enjoy this kind of writing.

So, why did I bother to listen through 3 seasons then? Two reasons compelled me. The individual eps were enjoyable about half of the time (to me), so I had a 50:50 shot of hearing something I enjoyed. The second? Veronica Giguere.

Ms. Giguere very adequately produced and voiced SWC and when I found she had done the same for The Ballad of Iron Percy, I knew I’d eventually be giving it a listen.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis:

It has been twenty years since the island nation of Great Hale conquered the New World and became an empire. Lord Percival Wilmore, the Hero of Naruna Isle, has been the governor of the New Jucata since the war’s end, and it has been his life’s work to make the colony a peaceful and prosperous part of the Halan Empire. By all accounts, he has succeeded. The city-states of Old Jucata have been dominated utterly, the old religion has been completely supplanted by the Halan faith of the White Veil, and Jucatan goods have made Great Hale the envy of the world. He is beloved by the people, and he has ensured that this Halan colony is built to last.

But New Jucata’s future is not as secure as it seems. As the head of state for the colony, Lord Wilmore is the highest legal authority in the land, and he is called upon to try a most curious prisoner. The events and outcome of this interrogation threaten to tear Halan Rule of Law apart and bring anarchy to the region.

Pandemona stands accused of being a Pak Shar – a dangerous and seductive demon previously seen only in Veil mythology. With her scarlet skin, lithe tail, and dainty set of horns, she certainly looks the part. Her way with words and alluring demeanor only serve to underscore this perception. Under Halan law, the punishment for being a demon is death by fire at the stake, but Pandemona is entitled to a fair trial by Lord Wilmore and the colony’s Curate before she can be convicted and executed. This interrogation is her only chance to escape. She must use all of her wit and guile to survive.

Is Pandemona really what she appears to be? What is she here to accomplish? Is she an evil and subversive creature, sent from the Abyss to torment mankind? Or is she simply disfigured and misunderstood? Whatever the truth may be, her presence is not a good omen.

The Ballad of Iron Percy is a song of glorious triumph, written to honor Lord Wilmore’s victory against overwhelming odds in the Conquest War. It is an iconic tune in New Jucata. The specifics of the verses vary in each separate rendition, but the overall tone is one of bravery, achievement, and joy.

Unfortunately for Iron Percy, his Ballad is not yet over… (Stolen from Podiobooks.com)

Production: As I mention previously, I have great respect for Ms. Giguere as a producer. She doesn’t let the listener down with The Ballad of Iron Percy. It isn’t perfect. But it is good. So, the good? Ms. Giguere is one of the premiere narrators in the business today. The audio levels also are quite consistent (except where they’re not), and there are few instances that jar the listener out of the moment. The bad? Back to those audio levels. The opening and closing sequences quite often are louder than the ep, prompting a volume change. Also, the closing sequence reaches full level a bit too abruptly causing difficulty hearing the last bit of story. There are instances of repeated lines, particularly in eps 10 and 18 (others as well, but these eps stood out). You can hear the “click” indicating an edit mark in each case. These must have been too minor to show up in the waveform when editing. Again, considering the sheer size of this work, these issues are relatively minor.

Grade: B+

Cast: The cast consists solely of Ms. Giguere. She is more than adequate to the task and does a superb job voicing the characters. Suffice it to say, if you need a female voice in your story, you can’t go wrong by involving Ms. Giguere.

Grade: A

Story: The story here is huge with 46 eps, many of them at the 40 minute or more mark. I have no idea what that translates as word count, but would be honestly surprised if it weren’t well over 100,000. The story is really told in two parts. First in the 3rd person portion revolving around “Percy”, his son and the church prelate (as well as others), and secondly in the 1st person as a captured (possible) demon tells her tale. The story winds back and forth betweens these two accounts for most of the duration of the story.

Grade: B

Verdict: This is not a story for the minivan folks. I won’t lie, the innate sexuality completely discludes this possibility. That is fine. However, the continual references, and surface level details, of one of the characters sexual needs goes beyond what I needed in a story. When these passages begin, it is easy to have 15 minutes disappear in a “I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t, I did” repetitiveness that I found boring. Several times the author also uses his characters as mouthpieces for what seemed to be treatises of his own convictions. I don’t have trouble with this when those treatises are the impetus of the work, but find them embedded in an otherwise work of pure fiction distracting. However, the overarching story is quite good and I did enjoy it. Individual listeners will need to make their own decisions on this one.

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: Ms. Giguere is a common commentor in my twitter stream and a classy person. I rarely converse with her outside of the open stream, but find her an enjoyable voice in that stream (you can find her at vforvoice). I’ve never met Mr. Clark and to the best of my knowledge, he does not follow me, nor I him. Nothing was offered or excepted in return for this review. Except for a Gulfstream V. Or was that just a dream? Now that I think about it, that is very likely.

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