Review – Crown of Exiles: Battlehymn (Podcast)

Today I’m dropping a review of the podcast novel Crown of Thorns: Battlehymn, the first in a series of manga inspired sci-fi by Zach Ricks. You can find it here.

Synopsis: Zach didn’t provide a handy synopsis so I’ll do my best. Shem is a busker on the streets of the capital planet. He accidentally helps out some strangers by humming and is rewarded for his efforts by being saved from possible enslavement. See, Shem is a budding skald. In this world that means he can affect reality with the power of his voice. That means he’s a weapon and those in power would like to use him, with or without his consent. His saviors take him to a distant space station and invite him to join their mechanized powered armor driving paramilitary unit for hire. From that point things only get more exciting and complicated for him and they involve a princess on the run, a rival skald, and the POWER OF ROCK AND ROLL!

Production: Zach does this as a straight read and the sound is clean. The use of music is good. As a side note, he apparently composed and performed a tune just for this podcast. It was a talent I didn’t know he had. For a story that has music at its heart that’s pretty important.

Grade: B+

Cast: As I said this is a straight read. As usual Zach does so with excellent emotion and inflection.

Grade: B

Story: There are a few plot holes, but when you’re talking about a story that involves giant mechs and the use of song to affect the quantum fabric of the universe, that’s probably to be expected. They’re not glaring and they didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. The ending seems to come to a head rather quickly, but it provides some nice surprises and a small slice of cheese. All in all I was very satisfied and had a hard time waiting for the next entry.

Grade: B+

Verdict: I highly recommend checking this out. Interestingly enough if podcast fiction just isn’t your bag, you can get the text version from his site for free. No idea when or if he’ll pull that from his site, so get it while you can. If you’re looking for a “clean” story with enough action, adventure, and intrigue with a dash of romance then give this a listen. I do believe this would be YA safe as well, so share it with your teens.

Grade: B+

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