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Seven Princes: Books of the Shaper, Volume 1 Audible – Unabridged

3.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Format: Paperback
It's difficult to write something fresh an original in fantasy fiction, but right from the outset of Seven Princes, it looks like John R. Fultz's Shaper trilogy is, well ...shaping up to rewrite the rule book practically set in stone by Lord of the Rings, and get right back to the underlying archetypes of genre. There's no adolescent gaining of power and learning to control it in Seven Princes, or a grand quest as a metaphor for coming-of-age and the journey to manhood, and there are no ancient prophesies to be followed through to predictable outcomes, but all that's good about fantasy fiction is here nonetheless and given a much more thrilling introduction than is customary for the first part of a trilogy.

There's no long, slow, deliberate build-up at the start of Seven Princes, no setting out of rules, no recounting of myths, legends and prophesies. The book's prologue sets the wheels in motion in a dramatic and bloody fashion, as the kingdom of Yaskatha is overrun by a powerful sorcerer and his hoards of living dead. King Trimesqua is killed and his son Prince D'zan is forced to flee and seek help from the neighbouring kingdoms of the North to face the dangerous threat that the kingdoms of the South now pose. It doesn't slow down there either as the book begins proper, the dark forces that have been unleashed seeming to cause ripples in the other regions - and there are a wide variety of exotic lands and undersea kingdoms in this book - but most notably with King Vod and the Giants of Udurum, with his sons of mixed Giant and human blood, and with his other children, who see their father abdicate and walk to the kingdom beneath the waves to almost certain death.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Trimesqua, King of Yaskatha, is murdered by Emhathyn, an ancient wizard who raises the dead to kill everyone in the palace. The young Prince D'zan manages to escape, helped by his faithful bodyguard Olthacus the Stone, and sets out on a quest for vengeance. To retake Yaskatha, he seeks the help of other rulers, including the two princes of Uurz: the strong warrior Vireon and the scholar/writer Lyrilan.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world, King Vod rules the city of New Udurum where Giants and Men live peacefully together. Vod was born a Giant but became human to marry Shaira, Princess of Shar Dni. Their children are a new breed: Princes Tadarus and Vireon have the shape of humans but the strength of Giants. Prince Fangodrel, on the other hand, is pale of skin, addicted to the bloodflower drug, and lacking the strength of his brothers. Princess Sharadza rounds out the set of royal children, a young girl with a taste for ancient stories, especially the ones told by the mysterious Storyteller who simply goes by the name of Fellow. When King Vod leaves his court to atone for an ancient misdeed, he leaves the queen in charge of New Udurum, which angers Prince Fangodrel, his oldest son who was expecting to become the next ruler...

In Seven Princes, John R. Fultz has created a complex fantasy world with a wide variety of settings. His cast of characters is larger than the brief synopsis above indicates. The history of his fantasy world is deep and includes now-legendary events as well as more recent conflicts that play important roles in shaping the current story. As far as world-building goes, Seven Princes has a lot to offer.

Unfortunately the novel didn't work for me because of two significant problems: forgettable characters, and prose that's too flowery.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful series, and I have finished the first book and will start on the second two. I bought the first book in paper then got the trilogy on Kindle.

Now, most fantasy fans are battered with tons of epic "I wanna be the next Tolkien/George Martin" books full of excessive descriptions and stuff that seemed to be from online RPG generators and the plot as thin as the slightly thicker paper on the cover... Well not this book - check out the negative reviews from obviously people who wanted that, trying to insult it based on what it is not. This is closer to "Old School" fantasy, full of heroic warriors, luscious women, drama, adventure, trechary, monsters, wizards, etc. Modern stuff has crept in in that the women have more roles than wenches, slave girls and dragon bait, but it's not gunshot forced political correctness here and doesn't hurt the story, thank da gawdz.

Overall it's a grand play - a very rich and interesting fantasy world with a long history and many cultures is torn by war and many stories within of the characters triumphs and tragedies, their choices and experiences. I truly did like and feel for these characters and the plot was in no way linear or easily predictable. The themes beyond the story seem to be in a way a Vedic attitude that while war is evil it is right to do what is necessary and destined in the pursuit of peace and good. Also the characters change and grow based on their experiences in this grand drama and that is the story as much as who used what sword on what monster helped by what wizard, etc.

Anyone who wants a good long sword and sorcery adventure that isn't going to batter you should get this - yes it is chock full of adventure, not pages of wasted history and character discription padding.
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