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Publisher's Summary

A young man with no past must progress into a warrior out of legend.

Cinder Shade’s life begins on a fateful afternoon at the bottom of a well where he awakens, bruised, battered, and bereft of all memory. His only understanding is a driving imperative to protect those who can’t defend themselves and become a warrior worthy of the name. 

He discovers within himself a peculiar gift, one in which the codes of combat are made evident and the language of steel is made clear.

When he earns a place at a prestigious elven warrior academy, Cinder fights to enhance his knowledge and perhaps even humble the proud elves who believe no human is their equal. His hard-earned skills are put to the test when strange rumblings emanate from deep in the Dagger Mountains. Monsters out of myth emerge. And so does something far worse... An ancient god. The world believes this deity long dead, but he is very much alive. And he remembers his enemies all too well. Even if they don’t remember themselves.

©2020 Davis Ashura (P)2020 Podium Audio

What listeners say about A Testament of Steel

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

before you buy!

this book is incredibly stretched out i didn't think that it was possible to have so little happen in 20hrs.
the writer seems to shy away from the most basic aspects that make a novel worth reading and exciting.
an example.
the mc has lost his memory and it is heavily implied that him and an elf woman he meets were once lovers in another life, the elf woman mentions things like she remembers how her previous lover played the mandolin. our mc plays it on multiple occasions but the writer refuses to capitalize on making the elf woman see the connection.there are loose ends everywhere that he just fails to explain. why is the horse suddenly capable of speech? why are the dwarves so terrified of this mc when they learn who he is? the combat is lack luster and quite frankly BORING you won't even get a true battle till the very end of the book most of the fights are just the mc getting his ass kicked in a very boring point based duel sort of battle...literally everywhere he goes the exact same duel mechanics are used. then vowing to not have it happen again then he practices and gets better over comes one opponent only to have the exact sequence happen again and again and again it is extremely lazy writing
frankly I am annoyed.this book had potential to be good and all these reviewers dumping 5 stars are insane.
the staggering amount of loose ends and unexplained lore and the fact that this writer seemed to enjoy dragging out a story that could have been put in 12hours has ripped every shred of faith I have in the next book being better.
if you enjoy watered down fight scenes and tones on loose ends stacked together in 20hrs this book may be for you.
it is not for me.

3 people found this helpful

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Bring on Book 2!!

This was a great first book for this series. It didn't rush the excellent story and it built the world and characters nicely. I loved that it did not rush the main character and the author spent the time to evolve him and his skills slowly. I cannot wait for the second book to continue Cinders journey. Highly recommend this book!!!

1 person found this helpful

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excellent

great audio book. highly recommend. one of the better fantasy/scifi I've listened to in the last 6 months.

1 person found this helpful

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great book!!!

This was great story, I really enjoyed the character development and the way that all the novels ate tied together. obviously, the reader Nick was amazing as always. thanks for a great story.

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Enjoyed this One

The performance was amazing as always. Nick Poedel is one of the best in the industry for a reason.

The story I enjoyed quite a bit and the MC is likable. However, the supporting characters imo are even better. Definitely recommend this.

Not sure what the other comment is talking about. I think they misunderstand intentionally avoiding certain events in order to build suspense, for loose ends.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-01-10

Repetitive plot, terrible dialogue

I was intrigued by the rather high Audible and Good Reads ratings on this book, but after slogging through this book, I can say they are greatly exaggerated and leave me questioning the opinions of the people that gave it such rave reviews.

Probably worst of all, this book was incredibly repetitive. The protagonist would find himself in a new place, be harassed by bullies, train monotonously to get stronger, defeat said bullies, rinse and repeat. No joke, this formula is like...90 percent of the book. Complete with repetitive descriptions of fights in various tournaments. But here's the thing, all the really big fights, the ones that mattered where you really wanted to see the fight go down, the author DIDN'T show, only mentioned it in passing. Or if he did show them, they were anticlimactic as heck. The protagonist's main move was to slide to the side after being charged, anime style, and then disarm or incapacitate his opponent in a rapid strike.

It got old.

Furthermore, there was no real character development. The characters stayed the same throughout the book. No growth. No changes of heart or lessons learned. There was really very little to distinguish one character from another, save for a specific phrase they might constantly repeat like a punchline, or Nick Podehl's different vocal personifications. The characters were flat, stagnant, and one note. All of the antagonists were just mean-spirited, arrogant bullies with no real pathos or attempt to humanize/round out their personality.

Then there are the female characters of the book, all 2 of the them, both of which are of course hopelessly attracted to and in love with the protagonist. Other than their being his love interests, they serve no other purpose in the story, and have no agency of their own. The dialogue was extremely cringy, specifically the jokes and banter the protagonist attempted, especially when attempting to flirt. It was supposed to be funny, and I could tell the author wanted me to laugh, but it just fell so flat.

In general, the character dialogue was simplistic and extremely unrealistic. The protagonist's voice was the worst of all, he spoke the way a textbook reads.

Let's talk about the protagonist, Cinder. Other than the fact that he experiences absolutely zero growth and development, he was also all over the map, you can't get a sense for him. One second he was humble and modest, the next he was arrogant and cocky. One second he is inexperienced, the next he is wise and world-weary. He will be polite one moment, and then be boldly disrespectful another. He will act like he is tongue-tied and naive around women, and then he will strut and act like he's the ultimate ladies' man. He will bemoan his lack of physicality or martial skill, then he will be a seasoned warrior of no compare. He will think that he needs to be faithful to his romantic interest and feel bad about pursuing other women, and then he will shamelessly flirt and pursue other women.

In terms of tension, where was very little. As you progress through the story, you begin to realize that any obstacles in Cinder's way will soon be overcome by monotonous, repetitive training. And not only does he spend all day on the training grounds, he spends all night in the library. And when he's not practicing hours before dawn and after dusk, and when he's not reading every book in the library, he also plays the mandolin perfectly and has learned countless songs on it, from where or from who, the reader really has no idea.

Perhaps the most glaring fault was that the protagonist didn't really have any character flaws or faults. At all times, he has godly martial foresight, wisdom, discipline, humility, bravery, chivalry, cleverness, etc etc. He's a total Mary Sue. Also, the protagonist follows the rather trite plot of being a simple farmer boy who is actually the chosen one of prophecy who will show up to fight an ancient evil that resurfaces, and begins the story with amnesia.

It's so trope-laden.

Then there is the author's use of quite long and confusing words based on sanskrit, which even the protagonist complains about, saying they are so confusing and all the long and strange names are hard to keep clear and straight in his mind. Yet he continues to use them and peppers them throughout the story.

The magic system was convoluted, unexplained, and surfaced somewhat in detail only occasionally, and usually from the confusing perspective of another random POV character who did nothing to explain it.

Then there are the flashback interludes in the books, which occur out of nowhere, and show random scenes, before slamming the reader back into the current story with no reflection or explanation.

There is absolutely no reason that this book should be as long as it was. Almost nothing happened the entire book, except for the protagonist getting bullied, and then training, and then beating his bullies. There were no subplots, side stories, or real twists. Everything is a simple, straight line, completely telegraphed from the beginning of the book, and carried out with dull monotony.

The "tragic moments" are not really felt, both because the characters are forgettable and because the scenes and dialogue are laughable in their execution. Perhaps this book might amuse a young reader who is inexperienced with fantasy novels, but please don't waste your time or money on it. It reads like pedestrian fantasy fan fiction.

123 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Christopher
  • 2020-11-16

This is a solid 4.5 audiobook.

But unfortunately Audible has a dumbed down rating system that doesn’t allow for nuance. Moreover they do an extremely poor job of communicating an effective rubric for listeners to rate the audiobooks... What criteria should there be for a 5 star rating?... for a 1 star rating?

How many one star reviews have you seen for books that are well edited and decently performed? How many 5 star ratings have you seen where the written review sites major flaws in the audiobook?

How many times have you purchased a 4.5 star audiobook with 100s of reviews whose sole editor was very obviously an animated paper clip?

...Sorry, I had to get that off my chest. A Testament of Steel is absolutely worth your credit. It’s definitely not necessary to read Davis Ashura’s preceding Castes and OutCastes series in order to enjoy this book and be able to follow the plot. That said, this book does take place in the same universe as CAOC and there will be quite a few confusing terms and references relating to events and characters from Ashura’s other books. I did find myself wanting to go back and re-read the earlier series to refresh my memory as these things popped up. In the end, it should be said that this book is not a direct sequel to the preceding CAOC, but many of the primary characters can be found in this book, and it IS in some sense a continuation of the preceding storyline. Although Ashura has done a good job of making this book able to stand on its own.

The writing and performance are as good as I’ve come to expect from Nick Podehl and Davis Ashura. The story and plot are engaging.

Was this among the most compelling listens I’ve come across?... probably no, but I feel that given the absolute goat-rope that the Audible ratings system has become, I can’t bring myself to penalize this book with a 4 star rating.

54 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Sailfish
  • 2021-01-03

10 hours too long, story movement too slow

Davis Ashura writes good prose but his decision to cram as much exposition and world building into the novel worked against keeping the story moving at much above a snail's pace. He also included lengthy and repetitive lamentations and fever-dream allusions that after the first few times came across as filler more than character development. This is unfortunate since the story itself held excellent promise of having the rare elements to make it an epic series.

Regrettably, even the performance craftsmanship of Nick Podehl could not still me from pressing fast-forward about halfway through many chapters.

24 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Bryce O'Connor
  • 2020-11-10

Brilliant. Seriously.

Davis Ashura ups his game on this. This is seriously on a whole different level from his previous works (which were already great), and Nick Podehl brings the HEAT.

Read it. Right now.

23 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Patrick
  • 2020-12-04

Fantastic

A story where the main character isn't OP in the first 5 chapters…? So hard to find these days. This was a perfect balance of story, character development, world building, and accumulation of power. I realize Nick can salvage even the worst of stories, but this isn’t that. Not by a long shot. This was simply fantastic and a real pleasure to listen to. I EAGERLY await book 2, and hopefully it won’t take too long to reach Audible. Loved it.

P.S. You kill me at times with the suspense! I had my finger hovering above the skip forward button so many times, but out of respect for the story (and maybe to teach myself some patience), I listened to all the descriptives while waiting for a fight or key response. Well done…bastard… X-D Keep em’ coming!

13 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • William D. Worth
  • 2020-11-28

Fragging INCREDIBLE!!!

Davis Ashura is an exceptional author. He has a very unique way of captivating my imagination, and because of this I purchased this title without taking a single glimpse at the publishers summary or listening to the available sample. Nick Podehl in turn is an equally brilliant narrator with the ability to bring to life the characters of the books he performs and to turn them into truly believable persons... Each with their very own personality. So believable in fact that I sometimes become overwrought with sadness when nearing the end of a book for fear of having to say goodbye to the characters that Nick has brought to life. Ashura and Podehl together form a team of impeccable standards and the stories they weave fill me with emotions and rock me to my core... So how excited do you think I was when I realized that A Testament of Steel is a prequel to my most beloved Audible series "The Castes and the OutCastes". As I had said... I purchased this title having knowing nothing about it except for its author and narrator. The moment I realized this most wonderful Easter egg, I literally jumped out of my seat and pumped my fist!

Just as in The Castes and the OutCastes, Ashura and Podehl never hold back... The amount of tension, excitement and on the edge of your seat moments in this book will astound you. If you have not read The Castes and the OutCastes, have no fear. You will still find this book enjoyable, but I assure you... Listening to or reading the prequel to this series will put you center stage into one of the most enjoyable experiences that I have ever had since joining Audible. The knowledge gained from The Castes and the OutCastes creates a tension so great... So enjoyable... That... That I literally have no words to explain it. Knowing what I know had me on the edge of seat waiting for a single moment to happen unlike any other. Not the day before Christmas as a kid or wondering what your 7th birthday was going to bring could compare to the feeling that this book gave me. The moment is always "almost" there so many times that I started to bite my nails again and I stopped biting my nails years ago. That "moment" that you are waiting for throughout the whole book is framed with wonderful characters so real and believable that I half expected myself to step outside my house and see them casually strolling down the street... I wanted to see them strolling down the street. Everyone of them is brought to life by Podehl in a way that only he can do, and he does it so well. I absolutely know that I am repeating myself in this review, but I can't help it... It's worth repeating. The book is beautiful and brilliant. Normally I have no trouble writing reviews, but with A Testament of Steel... Its so good that I actually feel that I can not write a review that would do it justice. Please... I pride myself on helping people. I am a people pleaser and I like to make people happy. Reading or listening to this book will make you happy. Especially if you have read The Castes and the OutCastes. The only thing bad about this book is that it is new and waiting for the sequel is going to be hard to say the least. This is the only thing bad that I can say about Audible as well... Waiting for the sequels and follow ups to the great books that Audible offers is a chore in and of itself.

11 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • kevin
  • 2021-01-24

meh

to much leftist culture preaching if the author would of kept that crazy bs out of this and focused on the culture that deals in chakras and Rakshasa and the like this story would of been allot more interesting and I wouldn't be returning it.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • JennyBunny
  • 2021-02-14

Training, fighting, training

Love Nick and Podium Publishing so gave this book a try. Performance was wonderful as always but the content was....a little lacking for me. Story setup is great and hopefully the next one has more content. This felt like 16 hours of training, fighting, and more training then fighting.

9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Jack L. Sharp
  • 2021-01-22

I was disappointed

I feel this story had potential. Unfortunately, I was losing interest in the main character and his inconsistent ideals.
The main character's personality transformed from humble, to ambitious, to confident and to condescending. I'm a huge believer in confidence. But, the line between confidence and cocky is thin.
In my opinion, cockiness almost always leads to condescension. For me, once I felt that line was crossed, I wasn't interested in reading the rest of this book.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • ROD
  • 2020-11-11

ABSOLUTELY FANTANSTIC!

THIS BOOK WAS ABSOLUTELY WORTH THE WAIT, NICK PODEHL, DID A SUPERB JOB NARRATING! I REALLY COULD NOT STOP LISTENING, I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO START OR HOW TO DESCRIBE, IF YOU HAVE LISTENED OR READ ANY OF DAVIS ASHURA’S OTHER BOOKS THEN YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH HIS WRITING AND THE LEVEL OF DETAIL AS WELL AS THE EMOTIONAL COMMITMENT. JUST READ OR LISTEN EVEN IF THIS IS A FIRST. YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED

7 people found this helpful