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The Blight of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood) Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I read Wretched of Muirwood and was lukewarm about continuing. But I needed a book to listen to while I am in the kitchen, and the deal with being able to listen to this book for free with Audible when you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber is just terrific. So I gave it a try and was pleasantly pleased.
PROS: The main characters are very likable. They are noble and just and all the things a hero should be. The main female character is strong and determined. The descriptions are lovely, and taken from various beautiful areas of the USA (Redwood forest in particular). I like the magic and the "learner" concept. The story is easy to listen to both in narration (the narrator in the Audible book is terrific) and in overall feeling and tone. It's a good bedtime read - nothing to awful to give you nightmares or set your heart racing.
CONS: There is a religious subtext that you have to get over or be okay with. I am not religious, but do have an idea of spirituality. The idea of the "medium" is not unlike the Christian "holy spirit" or Chinese "qi (chi)" or Star Wars' The Force, for that matter, or other life force/spiritual energy ideas. I enjoy the idea of this, and it actually makes the book more fantasy than religious. But there are some cringe-worthy moments where the LDS (Mormon) teachings come through, like the idea that "the scholars won't be able to concentrate because of the mere presence of a young woman at the abbey in a very low cut dress". [insert eye rolling here]. There are other ideas about how men can be fools for women that are uncomfortably truer than most want to admit. And 15 year old girls talking about marriage with 18-19 year old men is a little uncomfortable in modern times, although truly not unusual in medieval times.
The ending for me was so predictable. So predictable that you are like "how can these "scholars" not figure this out?". Although the reason for that may be explained in the 3rd book.
All in all I do recommend this series if you like clean fantasy with likable characters.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that fantasy authors range from excellent to awful. Mr. Wheeler is up there with Raymond Chandler: he grabs you right in to the plot, and doesn't bludgeon you with a lot of excess verbiage. He uses just enough words to get the job done. I was drawn in by the people, the stories, the descriptions of woods and houses, and more. The stories are gripping;* The Blight of Muirwood finally fell out of my sleepy hands this morning at around 6 am. Good thing I'm retired! (And a good thing the Kindle didn't fall off my bed!)
Jeff Wheeler is, I think, a very good author heading for greatness. Now 'scuse me while I go buy some more of his books!
*Sorry for the cliche. I tried, but could not think of a better word.
He's a great storyteller. Muirwood is a narrow scope story sticking primarily to a single point of view. As he matures, I hope to see breadth and depth in more of his characters as he develops a more complex storyline. Regardless, he is a first rate storyteller!
He draws you into the character's emotions. Despite the foreshadowing, I still root for Lia at every turn. I know she will prevail, but I bite my nails in anticipation of her next move every time!
He describes things like a girl (and I mean that as the highest possible compliment). There's a reason female authors garner such an amazing following and I believe a great deal of that can be attributed to their ability to describe settings, scenarios and emotions well. Jeff is every bit as good as a female author at this aspect of his writing.
Every chapter, every book, leaves you wanting more...desperately! I purchase very few books in a rush, and especially not in the same night as I finish one. Jeff Wheeler has become an exception to that rule. I read all of the Muirwood books in 2 days. While I read in excess of 200 books a year, I seldom go from one to the next in a series without jumping genres or authors in between. I often read several books simultaneously and for Mr. Wheeler's books I set aside other books.
What he's done and created is unique in a world filled with copycats. I appreciate the originality in the Muirwood series. While I see potential influences in his writing, I feel like the conceptual magic and style is something fresh and new. Can't wait to see this expanded as I have a feeling he has dozens of other ideas bouncing around in his head!
These books deserve a five star rating, but I see a room for growth. When I put these next to others in the genre, I still have a few stand out all time favorites and there is a separation in the storytelling. The intangibles are intangible for a reason, but I feel like Mr. Wheeler is on the cusp of having those intangibles. I give out very few five star ratings for books, but I'm certain the next series I read will have a five star rating. Keep going Mr. Wheeler!