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A Mark of Kings

The Shattered Reigns, Book 1
Narrated by: Nick Podehl
Series: The Shattered Reigns Series, Book 1
Length: 18 hrs and 38 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (104 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Despite his youth, Declan Idrys knows of the evils of the world. He knows of the bastards and brigands who plague the King's lands, of the monsters skulking in the wooded depths of the realm. Together with his companion, Ryn - a beast of rather peculiar talent - he has spent the last decade of his life beneath the bloody banners of a half-dozen mercenary guilds, hunting precisely such festering wickedness within the borders of Viridian.

Unfortunately, fate is quick to pull on the leash of its favorite children. When one particularly troubling contract goes sideways, Declan and Ryn find themselves thrust into a war thought legend and long-ended, a conflict so old it is synonymous with a time in which dragons still ruled the western skies. Now, as dead men rise from their graves and the terrible beasts of the northern ranges descend into the kingdom with an appetite for savagery and flesh, Declan is faced with a profane choice. He can turn, can flee an ancient rising horror that would see the realms of man left as shattered death and wind-blown ash.

Or, Declan can face this mounting threat, can come to terms with the fact that his oldest friend might just be more than he appears, and learn to wield an ageless power all his own.

Centuries pass, after all, but the Blood of Kings does not fade....

©2019 Bryce O'Connor and Luke Chmilenko (P)2019 Podium Publishing

What listeners say about A Mark of Kings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely amazing

What a great book to start off a great series. Hard to put into too many words without giving away spoilers, this book was amazing, so much so I binged all the way from start to finish and I’ve only done that for a few books out of my 200+ audible collection. Great story telling, very well paced and developed plot, great characters you become heavily invested in, there is one great loss in this book so far. And ya, very enjoyable book

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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good

Nick Podehl was amazing as always and I enjoyed the story for the most part but the ending seemed very abrupt.

3 people found this helpful

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Fantastic

Annoyed that it ended on a cliffhanger but otherwise i loved every minute of the story

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  • TP
  • 2020-05-29

whole lot of lost time

story started out interesting but doesn't take you anywhere. there were a lot of filler chapters.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Tony G.
  • 2019-10-07

A difficult slog

I was very excited when I saw this book had been released, as I was a big fan of Bryce O'Connor's "Child Of The Daystar" series previously. That series was well crafted, full of believable, interesting characters driven by understandable motivations and the story line that never got dull. I found A Mark Of Kings to be the polar opposite.

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

The book begins with a series of incredibly contrived, unlikely circumstances that force the four main characters together at exactly the precise time to begin their road to stopping the evil "Endless Queen" who has risen again after being vanquished hundreds of years prior. what proceeds immediately after the characters join together is hours and hours of boring historical exposition that could and should have been cut down by about 85% and would have still brought the reader enough of an understanding of current circumstances to continue the story. But I don't believe there is enough content without it to fill a normal-sized book.

Besides the endless exposition, my biggest complaint with this book is the main protagonist, Declan. He is introduced as a veteran mercenary who has joined nearly every mercenary company in the land over his career. He was also raised and trained by a 700+ year old shape shifting dragon to be a survivor. One would expect Declan not to be a complete dunce, but one would be wrong. Declan is constantly shocked into disbelief by "Revalations" every time he has a conversation with any other character. So much so that he typically tells the others that he needs to stop the conversation. This shock is used as a mechanism by the author to cut exposition short for the reader's sake, but it is used far too often.

One excuse that is used to explain how Declan hasn't figured any of this out so far is that Ryn has been blocking specific thoughts in his mind. But many things are never explained. Why is Declan shocked that magic is real after he was raised by a telepathic shape-shifting dragon who outlived both his parents and can magically sense things within a certain radius? Why wouldn't Ryn have told Declan that he can use fire magic? Why is Declan so shocked that Ryn is a dragon, but wasn't shocked when he thought Ryn was a magical shapeshifting creature unlike any known thing in the world? Why did Ryn not tell Declan he was a dragon? Why did Ryn hide anything from him actually? Everything is revealed at the most convenient time that it just comes off as poorly planned.

Besides all this, the romantic element feels forced, This could have been formed believably over the course of the book, but it just happens immediately after they meet.

Argh.. I could go on about my issues with this book, but I'll cut myself off there. I'm very disappointed with this book as a whole.

97 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • JOmegaK
  • 2019-11-03

Bit of a mess...

This book starts very strong, which may be contributing to my overall disappointment, but I'd hazard to say this is one of the worst fantasy audio books I've listened to in years. I forced myself through to the end in hopes that it would get better, but honestly it doesn't. Not only that, but it ends without any sort of meaningful resolution. The only thing that kept me hanging in there to the end was Nick Podehl's performance, even though all of the characters have weird accents. (Sean Connery?)

What it gets right :
- Great prologue!
- Well-written action sequences
- At least one good character!
- There are some cute dogs towards the end?

What it gets wrong:
- Poor pacing
- Jarring tonal shifts (lighthearted romp to grotesque violence in the blink of an eye)
- Unnatural and sometimes cringe-inducing dialogue
- A forced YA romance
- The world feels pretty generic and derivative.
- Magic system is poorly defined and feels like it can do anything the plot requires.
- Underdeveloped characters
- What are these accents?

The main characters are underdeveloped, and with the exception of the old Mage, rather unlikeable. The female protagonist is especially poorly realized, and seems to exist only to satisfy the love interest for the main character, She's a cliche of a cliche instead of really having a believable identity of her own. The magic system not well explained. Often times characters will just know things "because they do," or even more often the same character will not know something they should "for reasons unexplained" even though they can seemingly do anything else in the world.

The story hits a brick wall about half way-through when the authors saw fit to explain the history of the world [to the main character] for what feels like a quarter of the book. This effectively destroys any momentum the story had, and brings the pacing to a crawl. When it finally does get on track the book ends without any resolution. I get that it's the first in a series, but come on. There wasn't even a defined story arch. I'm just ranting at this point, but I definitely would not recommend this book.

50 people found this helpful

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  • Carlos T. Munson
  • 2019-12-13

Great...until

The book was moving along at a nice exciting pace "until" it all came to a screeching halt...when all the main characters spent most of the book sitting around and talking about all the historical and political happenings around the kingdom... YAWN!!!!

34 people found this helpful

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  • CPU Widow
  • 2019-12-03

Hero of Mediocrity

Suffers from repetitive detail that doesn’t add momentum to the story. Difficult to cheer for an addle -headed average joe who occasionally acts heroic. Doubt I’ll get book 2.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Richard
  • 2020-02-14

Below Average

Story:
I was a fan of O'Connor's work with Wings of War. I was excited to take a look at this. I am currently about half way through the book and it's a slog. It's at the point where I'm not sure what the characters are trying to do now. I remember it was four characters going to a place, but nothing is happening besides lore dumps about how the antagonist we haven't met yet is bad. That I forget where they are at having the conversations until there is a reminder of someone sitting and staring off in the distance. New characters are introduced then immediately thrown away, but they're shown to be important in the MC's development. Again, told to us.

Narration:
Nick does a good job. Able to have decent accents between characters and easy to tell who is who when they are speaking. It's just some of the character's accents seem to be out of place. The dragon and a mage are British and the mc is kinda bland. Which they are told to us that they are from different parts of the world.
I don't know if this is the fault of the narrator, but so far there are two moments that are cringe. In the beginning with an innkeeper that laughs for a solid ten seconds before more dialogue is said. Like a really loud and long laugh. It's annoying. Then there is a beast that attacks the dragon, I am not kidding, that the narrator will do a loud "skreeee" for the creature for about the same amount of time as the laughing from the innkeeper. At an even louder level than the narration. I drive when I listen to audible, when I heard the skreeee, I about drove off the road because it was so out of place and scarred me.

Overall:
The story is interesting, but it's full of too much lore dumps that so far don't matter. I don't know how you co-author a book with someone. It looks like Luke might be over the human MC and Bryce is in control of the shape shifting dragon when writing the story. It just feels that they both fight for control of the spotlight for narration, but still from the perspective of the MC who seems to have no context of anything in his world's lore or story. Every conversation he seems to be stupified over everything he hears. That it makes me feel like he lived in a cave.

In the end, I would recommend it. Considering I am still listening to it. It's just if there is a sequel. There needs to be less fluff on what has happened. They need to show us more of the world and how everyone interacts. Instead of hiking/campfire tales for information.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Lanfear
  • 2019-09-12

A Hero Who's Hard to Cheer For

This book started off with promise. It was dark, gritty and had elements of high fantasy mixed in. I was ready to fall in love. However, it quickly became clear that the main protagonist, Declan, is a bit dense. At first, you understand and sympathize with him but after every moment stuns and stupefies him, it starts to get old. It got to point where I found myself laughing, I started to feel bad for the poor kid, as I felt the authors turned against him. I know by the end of the book I sadly had.

For those who are looking for grim dark fantasy you may want to skip this one. Nick Podehl's narration is great but alas, couldn't save this book for me. Poor Declan.

59 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-02-03

awesome book

I loved the book. it had so much excitement in it. can wait to listen to the next book

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Melissa
  • 2019-08-24

Good Book, hope the next one is better.

i really enjoyed the overall story but believe that even in a series a book should be able to hold its own weight. This one was cliff hanger ending which I feel was unnecessary when we could've had 5 more pages to finish up what was there and lead into the next book.

TL;DR Great book, but unnecessary cliff hanger ending.

26 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Diffedge
  • 2019-08-21

Incessantly awed, shocked, & stunned into inaction

Plot 10/10
Characters 10/10. ( all but the main protagonist)
Narration 10/10

Wanted to love this story! The world is well developed and makes sense. Most of the characters are deep but not boringly so.

But then there is our hero, who is supposed to be a battle hardened mercenary, spends nearly whole book completely ignorant of what's going on because the writer is trying to build some unnecessary suspense. Not because the information isn't there but because his friends think he is to fragile to hear the truth. Which is probably right because he manages to find something in every battle to get shocked, awed, stunned, or overwhelmed into inaction and he just stands there while everyone else saves him. There is one battle he does himself at the beginning and that's it. seems like the side decides to search his feelings every time the Gore starts to fly.

I am in doubt if I will continue with the sequels.

54 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • James
  • 2019-08-27

This book is absolutely terrific.

One of the best things about reading fantasy novels is that every time you encounter a new magic system it's like an adaptation to physics this book has got a pretty good one.

21 people found this helpful