The Elven: The Saga of the Elven, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
The international bestseller and epic adventure
A fierce and merciless demon has been unleashed on the world, spreading destruction and bloodshed in both the human and the elven realms. Northlander Jarl Mandred witnesses the ruthless attack on his men, and he seeks vengeance with the help of the elf queen, Emerelle. Despite Mandred's barbaric human nature, the queen orchestrates an elfhunt joined by the two strongest warriors in Albenmark to pursue the beast. Farodin, the fiercest fighter in the land, and Nuramon, the healer, seize the opportunity to make history alongside Mandred in a life-defining series of battles waged in parallel universes.
The Elven is an epic tale, bringing heroes together across the boundaries of their worlds to avenge past losses and influence fates yet to be decided.
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|Listening Length||28 hours and 54 minutes|
|Author||Bernhard Hennen, James A. Sullivan, Edwin Miles - translator|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||January 02, 2018|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #35,742 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#227 in Dragon & Mythical Creatures Fantasy
#387 in Dragons & Mythical Creatures Fantasy (Books)
#913 in Action & Adventure Fantasy (Audible Books & Originals)
Top reviews from the United States
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I first discovered "The Elven" entirely by happenstance. I was aching for a good book to read, and the discounted price on Amazon--along with the discounted price of the eBook--convinced me to give Hennen's story a shot, even though it had only one user review on Amazon.com. Cursory research revealed the Bernhard Hennen is a fairly prolific Fantasy author in German, whose works have been translated into many different languages. This unfortunately-titled novel, "The Elven," is (more unfortunately) the first of his stories to be translated in English. Hennen has approximately 17 books available on Kindle on Amazon.de, all of which are rated very highly--the majority scoring a 4.5/5 review average (including "The Elven," which has reviews from more than 400 users). The reviews for the "Elven" series were particularly glowing. I took the liberty of translating a bit from the two most helpful German reviews:
The most helpful positive review, by "Martin H." (5/5) declares the book to be harmonious, fascinating, thrilling, sad and vivid. The first three novels form a trilogy of sorts, but each stands alone as a complete story. He states, "The world and characters are vividly and lovingly described so that the reader is immediately immersed into the world of the Elfs. Everything is written with a great deal of detail that never feels too wordy or fails to hold the readers attention." He also states that the story manages at times to be dramatic or melancholy without ever feeling contrived or cheesy.
Conversely, the most helpful critical review, by "Media-Mania" (3/5) declares the book to be a very good read, but "brutally" short. This first novel is a complex book that tells a "marvelously intense story," with a great deal of suspense, action, mystery and magic, as well as a great deal of humor. He/she/they declare it to be "A true adventure story and a master work." The review has nothing but praise for the novel itself, but instead criticizes the (German) audiobook adaptation, which apparently lost much of the content from the novel.
If you're out to sample more reviews than appear here, check out the German page on Amazon.de:
You may also want to check out the listing on Amazon.co.uk, whose reviews (for whatever reason) don't appear on Amazon.com at all:
So: now that I've read the book myself, what do I think?
It's fantastic. Possibly even a little sublime. The Elven is very much written directly in the mold of the old Norse sagas. At first glance, that may seem to be a mark against the novel. After all, is there any setting more cliched in fantasy than the Norse-inspired mythic realm? Elves, Dwarves, Trolls and lots of hearty men with stout Scandinavian names, epic beards, and double-headed axes?
But where most Fantasy authors conjure their settings through the lens of Tolkien (whose own work was a lens through which to view the old Sagas), Hennen ignores Tolkien and emulates the source itself. So, despite the many similiarities to Tolkien's masterpiece, "The Elven" feels more like a parallel work than a derivative one.
I guess my "review" is getting pretty long, huh? I'm sorry about that. I really want to "sell" this book to everyone out there, but at the same time I don't want to rob any enjoyment of the story by spoiling anything, no matter how minor. The story of "The Elven" has humor, but treats its plot and characters seriously--with respect. The central conceit of the novel is lifted directly from some of my favorite myths and fairytales. To get from one point or another, the characters travel by means of magical portals--portals which are not altogether reliable, and have a bad habit of dumping our heroes out at their destination far later than they'd expect. This allows the story to be focused and personal, while still managing to fill out a truly epic, historical scale spanning centuries.
And, covering entire generations as it does, the novel is able to constantly provide each scene--each moment--with genuine tension. Because people do die, and the world does change, and if there's one clear and obvious theme to Hennen's story, it's that everyone is at Time's mercy. In other words, it's impossible to be certain in the safety or success of any one character, because their trials and triumphs are presented at a historic scale. This transforms the "draw" of the story from seeing what the characters do to, instead, seeing why and how they do the things they do.
What makes the story of "The Elven" truly memorable is the pacing. The "time travel" conceit allows the tale to be neatly divided into small chunks--each like a self-contained story that is connected to both the preceding and succeeding tales, but also enthralling in its own right. Rather than a single novel, "The Elven" feels like a collection of heroic stories tied together more by the characters involved than the machinations of the overreaching plot. None of the scenes feel wasted, and nothing at all feels superfluous (which, I now realize, is praise I can confer upon preceious few books, fiction or otherwise). The prose itself is--and I cannot stress this enough--magnificent.
I wish I could discuss the quality of the translation, and maybe someday in the future I will. What I can say, having learned German myself solely to read Herman Hesse's stories in their original tongue, is that translating German to English is a very difficult task. And while I cannot yet comment on the accuracy of Edwin Miles' translation, I CAN comment on its overall quality. The prose... is simply fantastic. The writing conveys action, humor and beauty quite deftly. So deftly that, if I did not know better, I would never have suspected this to be a translation at all. Miles clearly put sufficent effort into his translation to make it appear effortless. If more of Hennen's books are to be translated into English (and I very much hope they are), I hope they are translated even half so well.
And a human who had been nearly killed by an evil beast in the beginning and was sav we d by one of the two sentient Trees left in Elvenland and thus given the long long lives of all Elves. This long and dreadful tale has none of the charm, or good characters whose challenges strengthen them and make them grow into the heroes the saga records. We wait for the enlightenment that would create these wanna be epic heroes. No these 2 elves and a man changed little although the tales about them grew and became greater than life. Unlike the honest and caring characters who became beloved or the dangerous creatures in tolkeins tales, only the rejected Muramon, the man who was the closest to a real person, has some promise of developing into a real character we could care about. In general, this supposed Great Saga drags on for endless hours with fights and near death experience thwt keeps them wandering endless deserts, sailing through wandering seas and climbing slippery icy peaks as they forego centuries of actual living to rescue the beautiful enchantress Noroelle over centuries and then when they finally find the woman whose banishment and the love of both her suitors started this saga, the happy reunion and the love we have waited for fails to produce any feelings except happiness that you finally made it through this long boring tale. ,They finally make it through the last magical portalanc find their love, butwe never really know if anyone is happy about her final choice as she chooses the silent assassin Farodin, who seems incapable of any feeling at all except some distant longing for a woman he knew many long lifetimes ago and who is eventually part of the reborn Noroelle. As they walk off into the moonlightoff together, Muramon stands there and wonders if there is another woman of another journey for him. Ive read Germanic and Nordic sagas before and fortunately they were shorter than this, but this seems to catch that dark meaninglessness of life often found in dark Northern tales. I wouldn't bother spending the time and effort it takes toread this book and can't imagine putting myself through another of these long dreary books. But even to those who love Beowulf and other dark dreary sagas of the North this might even be too much for you.
Overall, for me the writing style is the best thing going for the saga.
Book I has the most satisfying story and characters, with a triangle of character relationships serving as a strong call to action AND compelling character growth. The original's ending feels a *little* bit unresolved for me, but that is perhaps just because of my preference for seeing a certain character have a certain ending. :)
Act 3 has an early section where the action sequences are oddly described. Further on, it improves.
These two things for me make it from being a perfect book to merely a great wonder lol.
Book I is full of characters that feel like myths and legends themselves. An immersive adventure!
Top reviews from other countries
All of that aside, I took the plunge and pleasantly found that this was less an elf adoration book and more of a Norse Mythological Saga before Tolkien took and ruined elves. When I was done reading it, I'd felt like I'd read an entire series of books covering the arc of a wonderful epic song. This is not a small book and it has more than enough meat to sate the most voracious of literary appetites.
Get it and read it now, because you'll regret having waited as long as you did.
There are two main plots to the book, the first is Nuramon and Farodin searching for their lost love, they are join by Mandred who owes them a debt and who is looking to avenge his family. The second is the threat of the Devanthar; who is set on taking revenge amongst all of the Albenkin (Elves, trolls, dwarves etc.).
The characters were well drawn out and I found myself rooting for them. Even Mandred, who I found so annoying, grew on me. I only wish we learned more about Farodin as I still felt as though he was a secondary character as I felt like I knew a lot more about the two other main characters, while he remained a bit of an enigma.
The only reason that I gave this book four stars, which is just me, is that I wish the ending wasn't so abrupt, or if so maybe there could have been an epilogue so we could see what happened to certain characters. That was the only thing that really annoyed me otherwise this book is definitely worth a read!
The story interweaves Humans, Elves, Centaurs, Dwarves and several other magical or mythical creatures, some of which I was unfamiliar with, in a plot that takes some very interesting twists and turns, that keeps you wanting to read more.
The main characters are Farodin, Nuramon and Mandred, which the story follows, but there are several more that span most of the way through the book and a number that only appear briefly, but no matter the length of time they take up in the story they are written in such a way that you are invested in them, a case in point is Aigilaos, the Centaur, whose fate was truly shocking to read.
Defiantly a book I would recommend if you enjoy fantasy adventures..
His ability to set the scene and use of descriptive prose means you easily visualise what you are reading and I found this a book very easy to fall back into when I came back to it. A book not to miss