I was recently contacted by eStories to try out their service and get an audiobook for free. eStories is similar to Audible (but a bit cheaper). I hadn’t heard of the service before, but I checked out their site and they have a fantastic collection of books available, so I decided to give it a try. I ended up picking up the second book in Jeff Wheeler’s Kingfountain Series since I’d already listened to the first but hadn’t been able to get my hands on the second yet (I’d been hoping the library would carry it, but no such luck). Before I review the books, here are a few thoughts on my experience with eStories:
- Big selection – I was very happy with the selection of audiobooks at eStories. They have all of the books in the Kingfountain Series, plus many other books that I’m interested in listening to (when I clicked on Children’s and Young Adult and then Fantasy, I got 25 pages of results—that makes me a happy camper).
- Easy browsing – I was easily able to find what I wanted and navigating the site was clean and simple.
- App features – The eStories app (which I used on my iPhone) had pretty much all of the features I’m used to in typical audiobooks apps. I was able to speed up listening (I seldom listen at normal speed) and use a sleep timer (though it only went up to 30 minutes, and I often use the 60 minute setting—but I’m probably a little bit strange with that). Also, bookmarking was simple.
- Playback – Playback was smooth, but the app did freeze on me a few times (I think three throughout the several hours I listened) and I had to restart. However the app never lost my current spot or went back to an older spot when I started up (something I’ve had commonly happen with a few of the library audiobook apps I’ve used).
If you’re interested in eStories, you can sign up for a free audiobooks trial and get a FREE Audiobook Download. It’s a great value for audiobooks!
Now, onto my bite-sized reviews of the first two books in this series. The first book was from KindleUnlimited (which I had at the time) and the second book was my free book from eStories.
King Severn Argentine’s fearsome reputation precedes him: usurper of the throne, killer of rightful heirs, ruthless punisher of traitors. Attempting to depose him, the Duke of Kiskaddon gambles…and loses. Now the duke must atone by handing over his young son, Owen, as the king’s hostage. And should his loyalty falter again, the boy will pay with his life.
Seeking allies and eluding Severn’s spies, Owen learns to survive in the court of Kingfountain. But when new evidence of his father’s betrayal threatens to seal his fate, Owen must win the vengeful king’s favor by proving his worth—through extraordinary means. And only one person can aid his desperate cause: a mysterious woman, dwelling in secrecy, who truly wields power over life, death, and destiny.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this series. It reads like an adult fantasy series (not meaning that there’s adult content, but just that the tone and writing style make it feel like traditional adult fantasy I’ve read in the past), but the main character is a child, which is a bit unusual. But I really loved Owen’s innocent voice and perspective. When Owen comes to court, he’s (rightfully) terrified, but one of the things I loved most about the book was trying to figure out everyone’s allegiances and determining who was truly dangerous. Owen has to dodge danger at every turn, but luckily he has the queen’s poisoner on his side. Her crafty machinations keep him alive, and the relationship between them is really sweet. Then there’s Elysabeth, who’s an adorable breath of fresh air. She’s a complete opposite to serious, cautious Owen, which makes her that much more lovable! The magic in this first book is relatively subtle, but it’s interesting to discover all the different ways that the fountain magic manifests. I give this book 4/5 Stars!
Owen Kiskaddon first came to the court of the formidable King Severn as a prisoner, winning favor with the stormy monarch by masquerading as a boy truly blessed by the Fountain. Nine years hence, the once-fearful Owen has grown into a confident young man, mentored in battle and politics by Duke Horwath and deeply in love with his childhood friend, the duke’s granddaughter. But the blissful future Owen and Elysabeth Mortimer anticipate seems doomed by the king’s machinations.
A pretender to Severn’s throne has vowed to seize the crown of Kingfountain. But Severn means to combat the threat by using Elysabeth as bait to snare the imposter—and forcing Owen, as a pawn in the dangerous charade, to choose between duty and devotion. With poisoners and spies circling ominously, and war looming on the horizon, Owen must make painful sacrifices to beat back the advancing shadows of death and disaster. Will Owen’s conflicted heart follow the king’s path or risk everything for his love?
Owen and Elysabeth have spent the past nine years together in the north and they have long assumed that they would one day be married. But when King Severn’s throne is being threatened, his plan for saving it involves quite a bit of sacrifice—on Owen and Elysabeth’s parts. Elysabeth is now promised to the enemy (or at least one of them) and she’s bound by duty and her love of her kingdom to follow through. Elysabeth is every bit as passionate as an adult as she was as a child—her character lights up the story every time she’s in it. And the longing between Owen and Elysabeth is palpable. This book is all about duty versus the heart, and both Owen and Elysabeth have spent their lives putting kind and country first. Fountain magic plays an even stronger role in the plot in this book. Which makes sense, since Owen has had nine years to develop his talents. I loved the magical elements, but I won’t go into any detail about them since part of the fun was discovering how Owen’s magic has progressed and finding out who else has fountain magic and the ways they use it. This book easily gets 4.5/5 Stars from me!
NOTES ON THE NARRATION: It took me a little while to warm up to the narration in this book. Kate Rudd does a wonderful job, but her diction is so proper and formal that it felt a bit odd to me at first (for instance, the care with which she pronounces each syllable, including minor words like “to”). Still, this formal style does work well for this type of fantasy, I suppose, and I enjoyed the narration once I got used to it.
***Disclosure: I received this book from eStories.com in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given for the review and all opinions are my own.***
** Note that the sStories links in this post are affiliate links, and I will receive compensation if you decide to sign up after your free audiobooks trial. Thanks for supporting my blog!**