I’ve really enjoyed this series in audio so far, as it is one of the few instances where I can say that the author also doing the narration is done really well. So, when I was offered a review copy of the third audiobook in the series, I couldn’t pass it up!
So, thanks to the author and the narrator for the review copy.
Becoming a target is never great, but it’s a little worse when the people trying to kill you are technically the good guys.
Gabe escaped the Ether with the ultimate prize, and he thought that meant he was done with deadly cosmic games. But the nightmares infesting his life have different plans, and they’re not asking nicely before dragging him back in. It turns out holding all the power in the universe doesn’t mean much if you have no idea what to do with it.
So together with Heather, he embarks on a frantic race to collect the remaining six Iglas and stave off the coming darkness. And in the process, they discover just how much deeper their problems go. With new threats lashing at them from every side, and old ones tightening their grip, it becomes a contest against chaos to see who will dictate the future of existence: the assorted protectors of Earth, an all-consuming darkness…or a conman who would really rather not.
Blight Marked is the third book in the Ethereal Earth series, an ongoing story about reality, illusions, and all the ridiculous crap in the gray space between.
Here’s something they don’t tell you when they hand out instructions for life: things move much slower when you hate where you are… What kind of deity would design an hour of sex to go by in a complete blur, while ten minutes of an opera feels like the slow gasping death of a thousand galaxies? A monster one, that’s what kind.
This is the continuing story of Gabe Delling, who is a (former? still kind of?) con man who is now, more or less… uh… the superpowered savior of the world.
After the events of the last book, Gabe and his girlfriend/succubus Heather are in a race to beat the bad guys to a number of super powerful artifacts, which will threaten the entire universe as they know it if left in the hands of evil. The stakes are so high that even the other, less bad but still bad guys are on board to help!
I really enjoyed Hero Forged and Fate Lashed, and thankfully Blight Marked was just as fun as its predecessors. Gabe is a fantastic character, in my opinion, because he’s ridiculously easy to cheer for. Even despite being a con man, he’s still just… a good dude. We see quite well throughout the series how much Gabe grows as a character. I wanted everything good for him, so this adventure, full of lots of ups and a few downs, was quite riveting. His relationship with Heather is often adorable, and I love the dialog between them, especially when it’s full of puns and nerdy references.
A few new characters are introduced here, some of them, like Lauren, were shocking. My favorite was Penny, who is a water sprite whose glamour makes her appear like a child. She has the temperament and curiosity of a child (which can be admittedly annoying at times), but can definitely hold her own in a fight against powerful foes. Recurring characters I liked are back, like Dante the minotaur, and James, the not-so-run-of-the-mill crime boss.
One of my favorite parts of this series are the introductions to each chapter, written as exerpts from Gabe’s autobiography, CONscience. Where most of the book is in the third person, these bits are in the first person, and in each we get some words of wisdom from Gabe, and more or less see him learn lessons as things happen to him. It’s a remarkable bit of character building, and it does a lot to make Gabe intriguing and likable.
Like the two previous audiobooks, Blight Marked is narrated by its author, and Josh Erikson nailed it yet again. I suppose it goes without saying that he would know best where to put emphasis and so on and so forth, but he does a really great job bringing each character to life. Definitely one of the better author narrators that I have ever heard.
So, all told, I quite liked Blight Marked, and I thought it was a wonderful addition to the Ethereal Earth series. Fans of Urban Fantasy that has humans paired up with succubi, minotaur, and evil Zoroastrian gods. 4.5/5 stars!~