I’ve been hearing about this podcast novel for a long time. It would come up whenever I asked what podcast should be next in my queue and for whatever reason it just wouldn’t make it into the queue. Finally, I have corrected that oversight.
Synopsis: It has been twenty years since the island nation of Great Hale conquered the New World and became an empire. Lord Percival Wilmore, the Hero of Naruna Isle, has been the governor of the New Jucata since the war’s end, and it has been his life’s work to make the colony a peaceful and prosperous part of the Halan Empire. By all accounts, he has succeeded. The city-states of Old Jucata have been dominated utterly, the old religion has been completely supplanted by the Halan faith of the White Veil, and Jucatan goods have made Great Hale the envy of the world. He is beloved by the people, and he has ensured that this Halan colony is built to last.
But New Jucata’s future is not as secure as it seems. As the head of state for the colony, Lord Wilmore is the highest legal authority in the land, and he is called upon to try a most curious prisoner. The events and outcome of this interrogation threaten to tear Halan Rule of Law apart and bring anarchy to the region.
Pandemona stands accused of being a Pak Shar – a dangerous and seductive demon previously seen only in Veil mythology. With her scarlet skin, lithe tail, and dainty set of horns, she certainly looks the part. Her way with words and alluring demeanor only serve to underscore this perception. Under Halan law, the punishment for being a demon is death by fire at the stake, but Pandemona is entitled to a fair trial by Lord Wilmore and the colony’s Curate before she can be convicted and executed. This interrogation is her only chance to escape. She must use all of her wit and guile to survive.
Is Pandemona really what she appears to be? What is she here to accomplish? Is she an evil and subversive creature, sent from the Abyss to torment mankind? Or is she simply disfigured and misunderstood? Whatever the truth may be, her presence is not a good omen.
The Ballad of Iron Percy is a song of glorious triumph, written to honor Lord Wilmore’s victory against overwhelming odds in the Conquest War. It is an iconic tune in New Jucata. The specifics of the verses vary in each separate rendition, but the overall tone is one of bravery, achievement, and joy.
Unfortunately for Iron Percy, his Ballad is not yet over…
Production: This is a straight read. There is some good bumper music, but no effects or additional production values. The audio quality is very clean, but the version I listened to had some editing marks. The producer used audio cues to tell her where to cut and they were not always removed.
Cast: If you’re going to do an audio book and you don’t have the talent for reading, then please, please, please hire Veronica Giguere. You can find her at http://voicesbyveronica.com. She’s an author and an audio producer as well. She voices all of the characters and provides the narration and is one of those voice actors who remains in my top ten. She developed strong, consistent voices for each character, and while the red skinned lady in the picture steals the show, the rest of her performances are stellar.
Story: This is Ed’s first novel. It shows a little. Some of the prose could use a trim. Some things get over explained. Having said that, I love what he does with the unreliable narrator tropes. We get Pandemona telling her story over much of this, so it’s a little like Scheherazade regaling her captors. In fact it’s almost exactly like that. I imagine that’s on purpose. About half of it is this and the other half gives us other perspectives.
I do enjoy the world Ed built. The conflict between the church and the government is nicely done, as is the conflict between homelanders and colonists. The story has a lot of action and adventure, with a dollop of trollop-y action. (That means sex.) Ed also takes the opportunity of using the outsider’s perspective to examine what it means to be human. I look forward to the sequel (which is apparently written, but yet to be released.)
Verdict: I highly recommend this podcast. Don’t make the mistake I did by waiting. Move it to near the top of your queue. It’s quite long, but worth every minute.