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Stan Lee's Alliances: A Trick of Light

Narrated by: Yara Shahidi
Length: 11 hrs and 47 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (119 ratings)

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What the critics say

A Trick of Light is uncannily frightening, amazingly modern, incredibly moving and impossible to put down. You will recognize these characters, and you may be surprised to see yourself in their struggles in an increasingly over-connected, yet under-considered world. There are fears here that didn’t exist when Marvel Comics was created, and it’s fascinating to see Stan and company take the scalpel to them, and the listener. Listen to this book.” (Gail Simone)

“Leave it to Stan Lee to save his very best for last. A Trick of Light is as heartfelt and emotional as it is original and exciting. What a movie this one will make.” (James Patterson) 

"For lovers of Stan Lee this is nothing short of a publishing event! (And, honestly, who the hell doesn't love Stan Lee?) Beguiling, cinematic, operatic, A Trick of Light is a bracing espresso first thing in the morning and the thrum of a familiar love deep at night.” (Gary Shteyngart, author of Absurdistan and Lake Success)

Meet Our Heroes

Meet the Creators

Stan Lee was known to the world as the man whose superheroes propelled Marvel to its preeminent position in the entertainment industry. His co-creations included Spider-Man, The Avengers, Black Panther, X-Men, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four, and hundreds of others. Lee continued to serve as Marvel Entertainment’s Chairman Emeritus until his death in 2018. Lee was also the Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment, which he founded with production partner Gill Champion and attorney Arthur Lieberman. In Stan Lee’s Alliances: A Trick of Light, Lee chose the immersive medium of audio to share one of his latest universes and casts of superheroes. His trademark mastery of creating both engaging and provocative story lines is on full display as he and his co-creators developed a fascinating new world to explore that deftly comments on our own.

Meet the Creators

Academy Award winning filmmaker Ryan Silbertis a writer, producer, author, and founder of Origin Story Entertainment, a multi-platform entertainment company with a global focus on storytelling. Silbert’s next project is Stan Lee’s Alliances: A Trick of Light, an original, first-of-its kind audio storytelling event produced by Amazon’s Audible Studios and starring Yara Shahidi. Created by Silbert, Luke Lieberman, and Stan Lee in the late cultural icon’s final collaboration, Stan Lee’s Alliances: A Trick of Light debuted on June 27 as an Audible Original. With work recognized by the Academy Awards, the Canadian Academy of Film & Television, Sundance, and the Berlinale, Silbert’s repertoire includes such films as the Academy Award winning God of Love and Spike Lee’s The Girls in Trouble. Silbert is currently in development on television, film, and immersive narratives projects created specifically for audio platforms.

Meet the Creators

Luke Lieberman started his career working for the legend, who mentored him in the art of storytelling. He left Stan's employ to relaunch the Red Sonja comic book franchise, which has published over 300 issues and 60 graphic novels, and where he serves as licensor and executive editor to this day. Luke also practices intellectual property and entertainment law at Rosenfeld, Meyer & Susman of Los Angeles. His current projects include writing this year’s Red Sonja: Birth of a She-Devil miniseries for Dynamite Entertainment, executive producing the Red Sonja feature motion picture, and co-creating Stan Lee's Alliances: A Trick of Light, an innovative audio experience from Audible Studios and performed by Yara Shahidi, with Ryan Silbert, and Stan ''The Man'' Lee himself.

Meet the Creators

Kat Rosenfield is an Edgar-nominated author and pop culture journalist with a gift for reporting on digital-age dramas from the place where art and politics intersect. In 2018, Kat was tapped to co-author Stan Lee's Alliances: A Trick of Light with icon Stan Lee. She previously authored two young adult novels, the Edgar-nominated Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone (2012) and Inland (2014). Kat began her career in journalism at MTV News, reporting on TV, film, books, and young Hollywood culture. Her work includes critical essays for Playboy, TV recapping for Entertainment Weekly, and live-blogging the 2016 US presidential debates and election results for Us Weekly. Her more recent work as a freelance journalist includes seminal reporting on controversies within the young adult publishing community. Rosenfield is a co-host of the Feminine Chaos podcast on Bloggingheads.tv and a contributing editor at Tablet.

Meet the Narrator

Actress, model, activist, and youth speaker Yara Shahidi is quickly emerging as a generational voice able to captivate and inspire audiences both on- and off-screen. With a combination of raw talent, authenticity, and passion for projects of substance, Shahidi’s narration of Stan Lee’s Alliances: A Trick of Light adds another distinct level of depth and sophistication to this visionary work. Best known for her breakout television roles in Black-ish and Grown-ish, she most recently starred in the 2019 film The Sun Is Also a Star. Shahidi was a recipient of the ''Generation Next'' award at the 10th Annual Essence Black Women in Hollywood event and is intimately involved in various educational and social initiatives. Among them, Eighteen x 18, founded by Shahidi to encourage voter turnout, and Yara’s Club, a partnered venture with the Young Women’s Leadership Network of New York, focused on education.

What members say
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Science fiction at its finest

Generally, I am not a huge science fiction person so this is definitely outside my regular genres, but wow was this ever interesting!
The narration was amazing-- I love Yara Shahidi's voice.
Thank you, Stan Lee, for getting me out of my comfort zone, and trying this science fiction.

2 people found this helpful

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Excelsior

If you are a fan of anything Stan Lee ever touched you will enjoy this. I'm not ashamed to admit I teared up a lot hearing Stan read the opening. really hope this isn't a one off. Please continue this story.

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Another Amazing Adventure from an Icon

Loved Loved Love it! Stan Lee is sorely missed. I hope his co-writer continues on.

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Story was okay, narration wasn't great.

Narrator does a good job at reading the story but she's terrible at imitating guys voices which becomes somewhat annoying to listen to at times.

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pretty decent

it kept me engaged and was descriptive enough to spark my imagination. A pretty good listen and storyline.

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Awesome narration

Worth it for the narration of Yara Shahidi
Story is similar to" ready player one " or "armada"
but not as good.

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Amazingly Engrossing

I'm not much of a audio book fan but I found this story not only fun to listen to as the narrator was quite good, but the story carried itself. Although perhaps not so surprising since it's Stan Lee! Not to knock Luke Lieberman orRyan Silbert because obviously they brought something to make this novel what it is!

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So how do you do this magic?

This is very nice but for me it is kind of like a piece of candy. I eat this right up! Although I know it is just the cornerstone of many more quality works of art to come from these professionals.

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what a great book!

Amazing book with great presentation. I was hooked from the very beginning. This is a treat for SciFi fans.

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Unexpected Read

Excellent book. Not what I thought it was going to be. However, I very much enjoyed it.

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  • Kevin Potter
  • 2020-01-07

So good, yet so bad.

Here we have a new story with classic Stan Lee flair and a strong cinematic feel.

Yara Shahidi gives what sounds at first to be excellent audio narration. She has a good array of voices and her "neutral" narration voice is pleasant to listen to.

Unfortunately, it quickly becomes apparent that there's a problem: Monotone.

There is very little in the way of vocal shifts throughout the text. There are a couple of passable inflections, but mostly it's the same flat tone and the same even tempo all throughout the story.

There are also no rhythm or cadence changes between characters, so even though the voices are different every character sounds basically the same.

Now, I really struggled to rate the story on this one.

On the one hand, at its core this really is a great story. There's a lot thing on, there are great characters that are easy to connect with, and the plot is suitably epic.

Unfortunately, we also have some major problems. Descriptions are almost non-existent, most of the twists are super predictable, the tense feels gimmicky and is inconsistent, quite a bit of the writing is quite clunky, the author head-hops like there's no tomorrow, and honestly a good chunk of the dialogue just sounds absurd.

Okay, so let's look closer at the positives.

This really is a big, epic storyline that hits so many high notes. Lots of things coming into play that get paid off later, several subplots come neatly full-circle, and there are a couple of really neat twists.

Nia is a fascinating character that you can't help but feel for almost right away, and Cameron (for all that he initially comes across as a whiney idiot) is super relatable.

Honestly, I'm not actually certain if this ties in with the MCU or not. While there are direct references to both Thor and S.H.I.E.L.D. they never make any appearances so it's entirely possible that they were fictional references and they do not exist in the same universe.

Now, honestly all of the negatives to this story can be summed up in one fact: they chose the wrong co-writer to transform Stan Lee's story into prose.

I'm sure Kat Rosenfield is a fine writer, but this is what happens when you get a journalist to write a fiction book. Especially one written in the super gimmicky present tense.

The book really has two openings, one for Nia and one for Cameron. But they both start with just a few lines of "here and now" and then the character spends long minutes narrating their past that led them to this point.

Now, I'm a fan of back story, but not when it's all just plopped in your face like that right at the start. Especially when, realistically, none of it was necessary to understand the story.

But more to the point is that while the book is ostensibly in present tense, huge chunks of it are told in past tense via character narration and flashback and it comes across very amateurish and clunky.

I found the (lack of) descriptions very frustrating. There is decent description of the cyberspace aspects and some of the tech (and, somewhat oddly, Nia's appearance, though no other character is given a detailed description), but in most other respects the description ranges from minimal to non-existent.

It might just be me, but I found most of the twists much too easy to figure out. Although it was cool to see so much from the villain's perspective, especially seeing what drives them, I feel like it derailed a lot of the potential tension because the questions were already answered.

The dialogue in this story actually really bothers me. Some of it is so good. It sounds so natural and just flows so well. But then at other parts it's just this clunky mess, equal parts "no one actually talks like that" and "here's all these plot points/character moments/back story just in case you missed it."

There's a part of me that thinks the good parts were written by Stan and the rest was filled in posthumously, but of course I have no real evidence of that.

And, the head-hopping. Oh, the head-hopping.
This is one of the major things that screams to me, this author does not know how to write fiction. Head-hopping is one of the few rules I agree with following 100% of the time. In the middle of a single scene, we should only be in a single character's head.

Of course, this is not a rule if the book is written in an omniscient view point, but this one wasn't.

Which leads me to two of my biggest pet peeves that this book does often. They are two lines (or close variations) that make me simultaneously cringe and roll my eyes anytime I see them.

The first is, "What I/he/she didn't know (yet) was..."
I hate that. Unless I'm reading a frame story told by the same character years after the fact (so the narrator could reasonably have this information), it is, in my opinion, one of the biggest cheats in all of writing and it serves no purpose. As a reader I much prefer to just read it when it happens. I don't need to be told that the character didn't know about it yet.

And the second is, "That was when..."
This is, I feel, the single most over used phrase in all of fiction and it's clunky and jarring and the writing would be stronger without it.

I hope this wasn't too much of a rant. This book was just so frustrating. There are those few things that I really loved, but there was so much wrong that I just couldn't, in good conscience, give it a higher rating.

But finally, let's discuss the ending.
Honestly, what an ending!
They're are so many points where our heroes almost fail. So many almost disasters. I was on the edge of my seat listening to it, and the final conclusion does not disappoint!

Brilliant, beautiful, poignant, and perhaps even a bit poetic.

I'm not sure I can really recommend this book to anyone other that Marvel and MCU super-fans, but at the end of the day if you can overlook the flaws in the writing there is a great story here.

20 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Deborah M. Jacobs
  • 2019-11-07

Trigger warning

Child abuse incidents without any warning. Please read with caution if you are sensitive to child torture.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Donnabell
  • 2019-08-07

Riveting Adventure

This story was an amazing experience. It has a sci-fi, Ready Player One/Matrix/X-men feel to it. It was exciting and hard to find a good stopping place to continue with reality. The introduction by Stan Lee was fun and beautiful and really got me pumped for the story to begin. Highly recommend!

11 people found this helpful

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  • Scott Guerin
  • 2019-08-24

not a place to put political digs against potus

i love stan lee bit not a place to put political digs at the president. famous people need to learn to keep their views to themselves. dont jam your politics down my throat. you should learn from the dixie chicks.

10 people found this helpful

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  • CharlieBear426
  • 2019-07-10

Wonderful! Can't wait for more

Stan Lee’s Alliances: A Trick of Light has it all: super heroes, unwilling sidekicks, vengeful aliens, secretive organizations and tech gone haywire. The audio book begins with an intro from Stan Lee which was beautiful to listen to his thoughts on the story to come. The story is an origin story of sorts as it develops the characters of Cameron, Nia and Juaquo. Cameron has an unusual accident which leaves him with cybertech abilities. The twists are somewhat unusual but keep it interesting. There are aspects of the story that remind me of Enders Game, Ready Player One, and Terminator. The ending is obviously left open since they have plans for more, but wraps up enough to be satisfying. While Yara Shahidi performs the audiobook wonderfully, it took me a bit to get into it since the main character is a Cameron and a majority of the story is from his perspective.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Ricardo G.
  • 2019-07-10

An interesting new story. I look forward to more!

Overall I loved it. It felt like a fresh Sci-Fi story. I wasn't very fond of the narrator. She used the same voice for each character which typically lacked any emotion. Weather a character was sad, angry or excited she made them sound as if they were all super calm and relaxed. Even if a character were to scream she barely rose her voice. I think the story could have been much more immersive if character voices were spoken with more personality.

83 people found this helpful

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  • Eric
  • 2019-08-08

Loved this audible

Stan Lee dis an amazing job with this one. I'm in high hopes that another book would release and even a movie!! Again, amazing job!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Helen
  • 2019-07-03

About the narrator....

I'm not writing a review on the book (which I've given 5 stars)

Just wanted to address other reviewers comments about the narration speed. I initially found the narration slow-paced. When I switched the speed to 1.25x it was perfect.


So, at 1.25x speed, I LOVED the narrator. Perfect voice for this book. Well done.

110 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeff Larsen
  • 2019-06-30

story is ok, but the narrator is very monotone.

the story is ok. nothing is that big of a surprise, but it is ok.

my main problem is the narrator is really monotone. if you preview the book and are ok with the narrator, you will probably be ok with the story.

one thing I absolutely despised about this production was the music between the chapters and at various parts of the book. Honestly I will return any book I run into that does this. the music adds nothing, it only serves to pull you out of the story and I really hated it.

99 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-07-26

great story, poor naration

The story is great kind of a blend of invasion of the body snatches and ready player one. I did not like the narration at all

13 people found this helpful