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The Pen and the Sword

Destiny's Crucible, Book 2
Written by: Olan Thorensen
Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
Length: 17 hrs and 9 mins
5 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Narthani, a militant realm who believe their manifest destiny is to rule the entire planet, Anyar, plan to absorb Caedellium into their empire and crush any resistance. Yozef Kolsko (a.k.a. Joe Colsco) works to find ways to increase the chances of resistance to the Narthani's planned conquest.

Complicating his life is attraction to a brilliant daughter of an island leader, and his uncertainty of his own mind, hers, or intricacies of Caedellium customs.

Despite his desire to devote himself to introducing new knowledge, Yozef is drawn more and more into developing weapons and giving tactical and strategic advice - things he knows he's unqualified to give. The enemy is coming. The odds seem overwhelming, and it will take all Yozef can do, the courage of his new people, and luck, to survive.

©2016 Olan Thorensen (P)2017 Podium Publishing

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Couldn't stop!

Such a great story, so sweeping and epic. Very well written, and spot-on voice acting. I ripped through all the titles in the series so far, and I'm anxiously waiting for the rest! #audible1

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New world problem solving FUN!

I’m definitely enjoying this series. Love experiencing the story unfold. Having fun getting to know these people and seeing a window into their unlikely lives. If you like science, medicine or history you will probably enjoy these books!

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  • Nelson A Hill
  • 2017-08-02

At last !

I've been waiting for a new author to take the place of H PIPER as one of my favorites of all time . I hope he's as prolific .

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • odin
  • 2017-08-01

Another Binge Listen

As others have mentioned, this is a book that is really hard to stop listening to (as is volume 1). Thorensen's story is excellent in conception and execution. Jonathan Davis is a super-star reader. Put it all together and you might as well get used to saying "ssshhh, I'm listening to a story!" to everyone you know for a day or two.

One thing I really like about these books that I haven't seen mentioned in other reviews, is that each book thus far has a natural conclusion to its part of the tale. I find cliffhangers annoying but this and the first book both have a satisfying conclusion while leaving the story open for development. I feel like Thorensen respects his readers -- he certainly doesn't need the cliffhanger gimmick to get people to read the next installment. The stories are flat out great.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Jordan
  • 2017-08-01

Gripping. Refreshing ratio of sci-fi to fantasy!

Gripping. Can't wait for the third book to come to Audible. Finished Book 2 in less than 2 days. I'm legitimately bummed that I started listening before this whole series is out on audible, because now I'm counting the days until the next release. The narrator takes an enthralling story and delivers a performance that reaffirms my respect for those capable of this level of artful storytelling. I really got a sense of anticipation and fear, sadness and joy. There were moments that gave me chills. I laughed out loud. Really interesting story and the narrator is perfectly suited to the books. If it wasn't already apparent, I strongly recommend this book, esp. if you're looking for that perfect ratio of sci-fi to fantasy.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Helen Foster-Turner
  • 2017-08-23

The story is a good follow up but ....

I enjoyed it. I did. Really. But I find many of the characters quite two dimensional, especially the women but maybe that's just my point of view. Certainly a story which charts the impact of a modern, educated man raised in the West on a backward society on another planet makes for an interesting read. I just didn't feel any great empathy for the characters themselves. I'm sure I will read the next when it comes out despite that.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael G Kurilla
  • 2017-09-10

Video gaming and chemistry to the rescue

Olan Thorensen's The Pen and the Sword is the 2nd installment in the Destiny's Crucible series. Josef is beginning to adjust to life on the island and has found his calling in terms of gradually introducing more technology to the locals, expanding his business enterprises into soaps, paper, and finally weapons (cannons) and ammunition. He also gets himself trained in self defense. But his real value lies in understanding general military tactics enough to discern the intent of the Nartharni strategy from their military formations and plan a defense and counterattack. His personal life is also expanding and the inevitable conjunction with Mira evolves.

The sci-fi elements are muted in this installment with Josef operating a rapid technological advancement in basic consumer products and metallurgy. The ubiquitous watchers are noticeably absent. There is much focus on the island occupiers and their clearly advanced military capabilities as well as utilization of spies, special ops units, and a well designed overall strategy for conquest. There's also a bit of humanization for the various players in the military command. At the same time, the diversity and independence of the various clans is demonstrated as well as the consequences of failure to change with the times.

The narration is exceptional with an excellent range of voices of both genders. This is clearly a series with legs for a long run. The only minor ding to this volume is that the title should have been the "quill" and the sword, rather than pen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Matthew
  • 2017-09-04

The Journey continues

Would you listen to The Pen and the Sword again? Why?

Perhaps years from now, but I just finished it this morning, so it is not a relevant question.

What did you like best about this story?

My gosh, all of it. The characters, the plotline, the intrigue, the structure. This is an outstanding series and this second book fulfills the promise of the first book. Building out the rationale, finishing some story arcs and starting new ones. A fascinating extension to the character and plot introductions from the first book.

Which scene was your favorite?

The battle scene with the Narthani at the end was very impressive.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

As noted above, the last 3rd of the book is impressive in every regard.

Any additional comments?

This is a rich series, and well worth the investment of time ( as it is long, to be sure ). Brilliantly conceived, rich in detail and content, a stellar ( and consistent ) performance by JD, and more to come. Highly enjoyable, and completely credit worthy. One of the best of the year!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne Hugo
  • 2017-07-28

looking forward to book 3

Good story and just as good as the first book. the narator does a good job.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Kurt Schwoppe
  • 2017-10-11

I'm All In

The Pen and the Sword has rocketed the Destiny’s Crucible series to my top slot for 2017. Exceptionally good writing and masterful character development have transported my thoughts to another planet in another time. I now give a damn about what happens to the key people in these books. For me, this level of emotional attachment is more important than all the intrigue and action combined.

Speaking of action, Olan DOES ratchet-it-up in The Pen and the Sword. A small incursion is a defining moment in Book 1, while a full pitched battle is the apex of Book 2. In both cases, what delighted me was the intricate writing and tactical knowledge used by the author to bring these conflicts to life. The Battle scene in The Pen and the Sword is one of the best I’ve ever read. After reading more about Olan Thorensen on his web page, I saw the three letters SOG and knew that explained it all. Not only is Olan a great author, but he’s probably pretty much a badass too. That makes for a great mix!

One more thing I like about these books is ZERO fantasy. Sure, it’s science fiction, but they are 100% believable. These are REAL characters doing REAL things. As an Audible listener, I also encourage you to buy the Kindle version of The Pen and the Sword. It's much more complicated than Book 1, so being able to read along helps you better track clan names, key characters, and the many locations of Caedellium. Olan has also posted some Anyar Maps on his website which are also real helpful when understanding the strategy.

So, go ahead and spend a few credits as you will enjoy these books. Like all books, there are some dry spots, but this is all important backstory that helps the main storyline unfold. While not quite War and Peace, these are BIG BOY books, and sometimes you have to climb a hill if you want to see the full view!

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Big Guy
  • 2017-08-12

Superb

Highly recommended series. This is a unique twist in science fiction in that it is more like a historical fiction, set on an earth-like planet occupied by the descendants of earth humans, transferred by unknown parties, in an unknown method, at an unknown time. The one 21st century earth-man, dropped into this world uses his knowledge of the development of inventions from Earth's past to assist the humans he meets who live in 18th century technological and social times. Book 1 is great, Book 2 is even better. Reminds me of Ken Follett's THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH. Well written and well read.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Dan
  • 2017-07-30

Finished in 18 consecutive hours

Where does The Pen and the Sword rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Once I started, I couldn't stop listening. The free preview of book 3 suggests the introduction of new complications to the plot line. Really looking forward to next book.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful