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Publisher's Summary

Raised and trained in seclusion at a secret fortress on the edge of the northern wilds of the Kingdom of Ashai, a young warrior called Rezkin is unexpectedly thrust into the outworld when a terrible battle destroys all that he knows. With no understanding of his life’s purpose and armed with masterful weapons mysteriously bestowed upon him by a dead king, Rezkin must travel across Ashai to find the one man who may hold the clues to his very existence.

Determined to adhere to his last orders, Rezkin extends his protection to an unlikely assortment of individuals he meets along the way, often leading to humorous and poignant incidents.

As if pursuing an elite warrior across a kingdom, figuring out who he is and why everyone he knows is dead, and attempting to find these so-called friends and protect them is not enough, strange things are happening in the kingdom. New dangers begin to arise that threaten not only Rezkin and his friends, but possibly everyone in Ashai.

This is the first installment of an ongoing series. This book is intended for adult readers. It contains graphic violence, creative language, and sexual innuendo. This book does not contain explicit sexual content.

©2015 Kel Kade (P)2016 Podium Publishing

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Kind of a Guy-flick

It's a good enough story but having 2 girls fight over a guy is kind of a cliché, entertaining in its story but having absolutely no one to compete against the protagonist made it a little dry at times.

The book is entertaining enough to get me thorough it but nothing out of this world ; it is a light read.

Performance was absolutely amazing! No complains with that 6/5 stars.
Nick Podehl is one of the best readers I've heard.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting change of gears for the genre...

#Audible1

First of all...Nick Podehl is the best narrator I have come across on Audible.

I love the characters and enjoyed the pace of the story. The rest of the series is where the book really shines. Busy with book 3 and enjoying every minute of it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

loved it

#Audible1 loved this book it's a great story. I recommend it to alot of friends

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent!

Exceptional, I hope he continues to write more books in the series. I loved the characters #Audible1

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great story line!

very interesting views in this book. keep a you in wonder and interest. I wonder how it will all play out

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

good book

it has its ups and downs but overall it is an interesting story with a twist to it I havent seen before.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Mbot
  • 2017-03-12

What the heck people?

I couldn't finish this book and returned it. I'd like to focus on 2 main factors that I found very annoying. First, the characters, particularly the protagonist, all seem to be total idiots who are victims of elephant-sized plot holes. For example, the hero had been trained in every conceivable facet of life during his isolated upbringing in order to become a master manipulator, but somehow during that time no one gave him the birds and the bees talk or explained the literal definition of the word "friend." We are left with a protagonist who can dress up as a merchant from some far off land and expertly talk about current grain prices, but has zero concept of love, sex, etc. The effect on the story is maddening and totally unbelievable.

The second issue involves the prose and dialogue. Every page seems to have some lengthy, weird description about how gorgeous and ripped and strong and intelligent the hero is... over and over and over! The discussions the characters have with one another are also very one dimensional. They are basically caricatures of themselves, no matter what has taken place in the story. There is also a burdensome amount of exposition. The hero repeatedly stops to explain or think about everything he has done or plans to do, instead of letting his actions speak for themselves.

If you want a good fantasy book, try Blood Song Raven's Shadow or The Way of Kings.

277 of 331 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Justin
  • 2018-02-05

More Drama Than Fantasy

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The writing was weak. The performance was outstanding!

What was most disappointing about Kel Kade’s story?

As the title implies, it seemed to me that this book was more drama than fantasy. The bulk of the material was focused on interpersonal relationships rather than world-building, action, etc. While this is only a matter of taste, the writing style was also weak in spots throughout. Kade's writing lacked subtlety as either the narrator or characters themselves frequently explicitly announce thoughts, feelings, intentions, etc.

What does Nick Podehl bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Nick Podehl is amazing. He can turn mediocre stories into overall better-than-average performances. That is the case with this book.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No. I would rent it for $1 at Redbox or stream it on Netflix, though.

Any additional comments?

Despite weaknesses in the story, I will likely purchase book 2, as Podehl makes the experience worth it.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Dylan McDiarmid
  • 2016-10-02

Reader Beware: Worn Out Tropes Abound

I was a bit surprised with what I found, given the many glowing reviews of this book. I listened to the whole thing, which is rare for books I don't like much, so I thought I'd offer a different perspective. This review contains some minor spoilers.

The Bad
The protagonist of this book is the complete Mary Sue package. At 19 years old, he can fight better than anyone, is a master of stealth and subterfuge, is a brilliant scholar in history, a doctor, and has a detailed knowledge of all intrigue and current events. Oh, and nearly every woman he meets is so smitten with his impossibly good looks, they find it very difficult to function. Despite this, the Macguffin used to drive the plot is the fact that he can't figure out what the word "friend" means. Not in a metaphorical sense, but literally.

The author's female characters are something you'd expect out of speculative fiction written 50 years ago. In one scene, two of the main characters get into a catfight (over who gets to woo the protagonist, naturally). The author tells us that possibly due to their "basic female nature", they fail to remember any of their training and just brawl it out (naked while bathing, of course). Female characters who aren't taken in by the protagonist's charms are usually cast as fallen women or Jezebels. The protagonist elevates them or puts them in their place accordingly.

The Good
The pacing in the book is good, and Nick Podehl is a great narrator.

Summary
The cover art, taken along with some of the reviews, may lead you to believe this book is gritty fantasy like Abercrombie, Lynch, or Martin. It's not. It's much closer in tone to someone like Scott Meyer, albeit with a bit more violence. If that sounds appealing to you, and you don't mind some of the well-worn tropes, you may enjoy it.

93 of 117 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Em
  • 2016-10-17

Started strong, went nowhere

The narrator is the best in the business; Nick Podehl's narration can strengthen and breathe life into an otherwise weak story, and this book is a great illustration of that part of his skill.

The main character Rezkin is pretty much a composite of Wesley from The Princess Bride mixed with a Chuck Norris joke. Rezkin knows everything, he's more powerful than twenty men combined, he sweats justice, his tears cure cancer/but he never cries. When the author wanted him to be socially naive (about women) he was. When the author wanted him to be a keenly discerning judge of human character and social situations, he was that instead. All the women in the story were charmless, dimwitted, sobbing helpless victims who needed Rezkin's protection and every single woman (and some of the men) immediately fell in love with him from their first glance. All the men in the story were similarly dimwitted weaklings who were jealous of him and bowed down to him if their job in the story wasn't to be killed by him.

In the beginning it was kind of funny - Nick Podehl's narration almost made it sound like at some point we'd get a wink and a laugh about this, but it never happens. At once point Our Hero had broken his leg and the narration went something like, "The river was far too dangerous and impossible to swim across - so Rezkin swam across it anyway with his broken leg trailing behind him" It goes like that a lot.

The story starts out interesting, gets ridiculous but is still enjoyable, gets even more absurdly overblown but is still enjoyable because of all the action, and then stalls out 2/3 through when we get to the house of the Uncle of one of the side characters. (Nick Podehl narrates the character of the Uncle as a pitch perfect Sean Connery!!! This kept me listening to it when I really, really wanted to fast forward the story line.) The characters stay there forever, nothing happens, descriptions abound of various characters drinking tea and feeling socially uncomfortable (except Rezkin, who is never uncomfortable) in the formal living room. Hours of this. It's like listening to music on hold.

Anyway, it finishes in line with a set-up for Book 2. I bought both at the same time and regretted buying the second while listening to the first, but I'll give Book 2 a go because Nick Podehl could make my shopping list interesting, and I hate skipping a book he's got so many good character voices in. I wish he had better characters to work with, but his performance is exceptional.

77 of 97 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-08-05

Simple and drawn out with ridiculous characters

1 - I like my protagonists strong and capable as the next person however this one had my eyes rolling just too entirely much.

2- I am so upset over the poor and ridiculous character development of every female character in this story line. It borders the ridiculous as each female is petty, jealous, demure and incapable of making decisions that inspire respect. I understand if it serves the storyline but even some respectable qualities would have only enhanced the story line. This angered me.

3. Poor storyline. There is entirely too much emphasis on how much of a warrior and perfect the protagonist is from physical capabilities and it gets overly redundant. We get it - wish more time was spent on the actual plot and story development instead of 2/3 of the story spent expressing how amazing the character is...

I was hoping this would get better by the second book. Part way through and it hasnt. I like to finish through with story lines but I am so frustrated at the poor character these people were developed as.

38 of 48 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • cody king
  • 2017-09-19

Not completely horrible. . .

There are many books that are either good or horrible. This book however fit into a very unfortunate middle ground. While parts of it were quite interesting, that amounted to an overall small percentage of the book. Let me explain:

In the beginning of the book we are introduced to Rezkin, an incredibly overpowered killer who has been raised away from the world. The very first plot point is that he is released into the world with unclear objectives, except he is mistakenly told that the two rules above all rules are to protect and honor his friends and to kill with conscience. So this hardcore killer now has to find friends and honor them, all the while hunting down the last man who managed to escape him. The is could have had great potential for a growing character and hilarious interactions, unfortunately this was not the case.

1. Rezkin has no character flaws. He is a better thief than the thieves , a better warrior than the warriors, and more honorable than the most honorable general. His character flaws is supposed to be his utter lack of knowledge in social matters, but he is made to be so completely honorable and likeable that his friends let him get away with everything. This leads me into the next point.
2. The side characters are completely useless. The two main side characters are purposeless and are only there to show how awesome Rezkin is. On top of this every single female character is completely in love with him, for no other reason than how awesome he is.
3. Instead of pursuing a plotline that suited an incredible assassin character the plot is basically a soap opera. Women are fighting over the completely perfect Rezkin, all the while he is off at night killing people and doing things beyond the realm of reason.

Conclusion: While the small parts of the book that follow Rezkin's rise to power and incredible feats are interesting, they don't make up for the huge shortcomings in the rest of the book and even they eventually become stale since you know he won't fail in any meaningful way. If you want a soap opera in a fantasy setting then give this book a try. If you want an actual epic fantasy novel then I would recommend something else. Maybe Mistborn or the Riyiria Revelations.

16 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gus
  • 2017-04-26

A great book for over powered Protagonist lovers

This is a book for those of us that LOVE a strong male lead. If you are looking for a protagonist who has outstanding abilities, powerful armor and weapons, and an award winning personality then this is the book for you.

Things that I love about this book: sometimes I am in the mood for a book about someone who has got it all, and that person needs to use that incredible power and fortitude to the max in order to make it through book.

42 of 54 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Susan J Sweeny
  • 2016-10-01

great narration, frustrating writing

What disappointed you about Free the Darkness?

The main character is essentially perfect. He has been trained so he can do everything and do it better than everyone else. He never does anything wrong. He has no flaws except being un-used to common society but even then is still perfect in all of his interactions. Every man wants to be him, and every woman wants to be with him. It's the literary equivalent of playing a videogame with "god mode" on and unfortunately makes for a very boring read after a while.The writing is repetitive. I honestly lost count how many times the main character is called "The young ______ " with some added descriptor like "warrior" "man" "assassin". In addition, the main character "easily does ______" with almost every action. An example of this would be a scenario like "The young warrior EASILY disarmed the man", which once in a while wouldn't be so bad but I feel like I heard it almost once every 5 minutes.

What do you think your next listen will be?

I think the premise and overall plot is somewhat interesting and will consider giving the author another try later.

Which character – as performed by Nick Podehl – was your favorite?

He does ALL of them exceptionally well.

101 of 131 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Conflicted5
  • Henderson, NV USA
  • 2016-08-31

Wow!! This book...

Any additional comments?


I really want to write a review to do it justice. I can't express how much I love Rezkin and his adventures in the 'outworld'. Watching Rez shift from being totally isolated all his life in brutal training to being thrust into the populous is touching and often times comical. There is tons of action, a minor magic system and a bit of romance on the side.
I am a huge fan of Anthony Ryan, Michael J. Sullivan and Patrick Rothfuss. If you like these authors, you should really give this book a try. It is a great addition to the genre of epic fantasy.
Nick as narrator, as usual, is brilliant and truly brings the characters to life.

95 of 124 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2016-11-02

Nick tried his best, the story just sucks.

I really tried to like this book. I love mr. Podehls narration and he tried his best to bring some life to this story but it's just not there. The main character Rezkin is boring. Just gutwrenchingly boring. He's skilled... Very skilled... Like a god... No one is better than Rezkin, and he makes that fact known on every page. Oh, and he's handsome, that is made known on every other page. Every woman (and man it seems) falls instantly in love with him. Women will scratch each others eyes out just for the privilege of gazing upon his perfect body. Ugh. He faces exactly zero challenges. In everything he does, he wins. He makes it through every fight without a scratch. He's insanely rich. He has absolute immunity from any crimes he commits. He has the best weapons and armor. He's not a Mage, but that doesn't matter because his will is so strong he can out do any magic thrown his way. And he's a bully. He throws his perfectness around to get his way and get what he wants by killing or threatening to kill people. He'll even threaten his friends with death of they do something he doesn't like. What's the point? Why even tell this guy's story? Oh an he "cocks his head" at least twice a page like some kind of neurotic puppy dog.

52 of 68 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Maarten
  • 2017-01-02

Autore da tenere d'occhio.

Non mi sono pentito di aver provato questo autore. Anche se il protagonista e tropo vicino ad un supereroe di un fumetto (ma meno simpatico) e i personaggi feminili sembrano poco realistici; la storia e il narratore sono riusciti a farmi finire il libro in poco tempo. Sono convinto che la stile del autore migliorerà mel tempo. Intendo leggere il seguito.