Synopsis: The eagerly-awaited sequel to Shadowmagic.
Having returned to the real world from Tir Na Nog at the end of the last book, our hero Conor finds himself arrested for the murder of his father.
When he explains to the cops that his dad is safe and well and enjoying life as king of a land of elves, imps and banshees they understandably think he is a nutcase.
That is until he is rescued by Celtic warriors on horseback and taken back to Tir Na Nog, accidentally bringing a policeman with him.
Once safely back in The Land, Conor finds that all is not well. His father is dying, the girl he loves is betrothed to another and a rather confused American cop is wandering around causing havoc.
It falls to our young hero, and his band of friends, to find a cure for the king. On their epic journey they encounter one of the most mystical and dangerous races in The Land, the shapeshifting Pooka, and find their fates linked in ways they could never have imagined.
The Prince of Hazel and Oak is a stunning fantasy adventure that takes fans of Shadowmagic further in to the land and brings back many of the favourite characters from the first book.
Production: The audio quality is solid. There were no repeated lines.
Cast: I tweeted a while back that the two best story tellers to have graced my earbuds are Nathan Lowell and John Lenahan. I’ve no doubt that John’s experiences as a stage magician and comedian play heavily into his ability to take a “straight read” and make it as magical as the plot. He does a wonderful job in bringing his story to life.
Story: This is one of those epic fantasy stories that gives me hope for the genre. His tagline on the novel says “Lord of the Rings for the 21st Century, Only A Lot Shorter.” I love the humor in this, but more so I love the truth. In a market that seems to be glutted with door stops that drag on forever (and a few much shorter works that seem to drag just as much), John has a work of epic fantasy that can and has made reading them (or at least listening to them) fun again.
He’s got a range of characters, old and new, that I care deeply about by the end. His world is well developed and strikes me as a good fusion of Irish folk tales and his own imagination, in the same way that Tolkien’s was a melding of Germanic myth and his own love of language and world building.
There are a few quibbles I have with the ending. Bad things happen to some of the main characters and we’re told rather than shown what happens. This is a first person narrative though, so that’s part of the point of view limitations. I do like first person for this, since it gives us a “real world” perspective into the land of Tir Na Nog. I also wanted a little more of an ending, but there is a third book so it had to leave us wanting more. And as middle books go, this was a lot more than just a bridge between the first and third.
Verdict: This is one of those podcasts that owned my iPod. I listened to little else. I fast forwarded past opening and closing music because I wanted MOAR PODCAST STORY. I think that speaks for itself.
Sidebar – This book has been published by Harper Collins. I’ve no idea why they are letting him give this away on Podiobooks (possibly because they’re smart enough to know how great of an audience builder that can be?). Kudos to them, though. I’ll be buying the ebooks (half the price of the paperback, again kudos to the publisher for “getting” it) for my kids.