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Now, the third Moontide is almost here, and this time the people of the East are ready for a fight DeathWizards have been the scourge of Talohna for over years; they are executed at birth or hunted to the death.

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There are no exceptions. Pulled by magic and blood sacrifice into a world he can't possibly begin to understand, Kael Symes soon finds himself the focus of a Talohna-wide manhunt. Desperate and trying to stay ahead of ArchWizard Giddeon Zirakus's execution squad, Kael soon discovers that Talohna's ArchWizard may be the least of his worries.

Raised and trained in seclusion at a secret fortress on the edge of the northern wilds of the Kingdom of Ashai, a young warrior called Rezkin is unexpectedly thrust into the outworld when a terrible battle destroys all that he knows. Millennia in the dark has left these lost and forgotten monsters hungry for war, and the people of Illian can do nothing but rely on their peacekeepers, the Dragorn. But are the dragon riders ready for what has been buried under their feet?

Together with Inara Galfrey and her dragon, they must investigate the return of these forgotten monsters.

Interview: Mark T. Barnes

Rigel has always known he is not quite human, but the only clue to his origin is the otherworldly bracelet he has worn since childhood. His search for his parentage leads him to the Starlands, where reality and fantasy have changed places. There he learns that he is a human-starborn cross, and his bracelet is the legendary magical amulet Saiph, which makes its wearer an unbeatable swordsman. Sweeping from the majestic city of Ashoka to the perilous Wildness beyond her borders, enter a world where Caste determines mystical Talents, the purity of Jivatma expresses worth, and dharma may be based on a lie.

Rukh Shektan has always understood duty. As a member of Caste Kumma, the warrior Caste, nothing else is acceptable.

The Garden of Stones (Audiobook) by Mark T. Barnes |

He is expected to take part in the deadly Trials, to journey the Wildness and protect the caravans linking Humanity's far-flung cities. Though the mission is dangerous, Rukh's hope and optimism are undaunted. Karma, however, is a fickle fiend. Mankind has lorded over the land of Illian for a thousand years, enjoying what was left to them by the elves, as if it were their birthright. A thousand years is a long time for an immortal race to see the error of their ways and realize a truth that has remained unsaid for a millennia - elves are superior! They are faster, stronger, and connected to the magical world in a way that man could never grasp.

Illian is their birthright. The six kingdoms of man are fractured, unallied and always clawing at each other's doors for more power. After a long and terrible war, the realm of Andomhaim is at peace.

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But dark powers threaten other lands. Ridmark Arban, the Shield Knight and defender of Andomhaim, finds himself fighting for his life, and for the lives of his family, when a mad elven wizard comes to the High King's court. For the quest of the Seven Swords has begun. And the quest will kill anyone foolish enough to seek its secret. Life is simple in Ben's small town until an attack brings the arrival of exciting strangers straight out of a story. Before Ben understands what is happening, he embarks on a dangerous journey to help his friends.

A mage, demons, thieves, and assassins are just a few of the perils he will face while trying to make it to safety. But things aren't always what they seem, and safety is a fragile concept when the destructive behaviors of the powerful are exercised unchecked. Fueled by visions promising him prolonged life and political power, the dying Corajidin, leader of a millennia-old dynasty, has brought the nation of Shrian to civil war.

But is his bright destiny assured, or do the events unfolding around him promise a more ignoble, and finite, future? Indris, warrior-mage of the Seq Scholars and scion of a rival Great House, is caught in the upheaval.

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Driven by loyalty and conscience to return to a city that haunts his past, Indris reluctantly accepts the task of finding a missing man, the only one able to steer the teetering nation toward peace. The celebrated warrior-poet, Mari, touches both men's lives: one as daughter, one as lover. As her world unravels around her, can she be true to both her duty to blood, and her own desires for freedom and happiness?

So, like a flu shot, let's get the darn thing over with, for God's sake. Let's review, shall we? A writer with skills?

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Seems so. His storyline? The same. Just go read the Audible short on the work. Yet, there's an issue here. If you read or, in this case, listen, to a good number of books, you'll understand where I'm headed. If you're a great writer, or even a GOOD one, you constantly strive for a few things in your writing.

Want to add to the discussion?

Suspension of disbelief is one. A moving and deep storyline is another. Rich characterization is important, as well. We've all started to read or listen to such novels, and as soon as the characters open their mouths, it's over. The message suffers. The momentum is lost. The book is closed, the audiobook returned. And in this case, it's a shame. The problem happens here - In droves. I thought of including specific text, but it's not necessary.

Is the audiobook bad? But the work suffers, due to the dialogue. It's a soap-operatic.

Over the top. A word to Mr. Barnes: "Do NOT get rushed by your editor to put your next effort out so quickly, that the character's dialogue suffers, as in this work. Take your time, and write great dialogue. I look forward to your next work with keen anticipation. I have to be true to the job at hand, to let the audiobook stand on its own merits.

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  • Or fall. Sorry, Mr. Maybe next time. I found the story very interesting, but I did not like the performer. I think I would have enjoyed the book more in print.