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The Ale Boy's Feast: A Novel (The…
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The Ale Boy's Feast: A Novel (The Auralia Thread) (edition 2011)

by Jeffrey Overstreet

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Member:cabalexis
Title:The Ale Boy's Feast: A Novel (The Auralia Thread)
Authors:Jeffrey Overstreet
Info:WaterBrook Press (2011), Paperback, 400 pages
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The Ale Boy's Feast: A Novel (The Auralia Thread) by Jeffrey Overstreet

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
So ends one of the best fantasy series I have read.

I have read all of Jeffrey Overstreet's "The Auralia Thread" and it has been a wonderful adventure.

This book does an excellent job of bringing the story to a conclusion. I did make the mistake of reading several of the books many months apart, so I was a little lost with some of the characters and plot lines when I got to the final book. I am looking forward to going back and reading all of the books in succession.

The Ale Boy's Feast finishes "The Auralia Thread" and Overstreet's amazing writing style continues throughout. The characters and especially the environments come alive in this final story.

There are plenty of twists, surprises, and exciting moments in this novel.

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone that is looking for a different take on the fantasy genre.

4.5 / 5 Stars ( )
  mudrash | Aug 20, 2011 |
Overstreet concludes the Auralia Thread series with this book. It has quite a few surprises. Most of the principal characters from prior novels received somewhat less time, and I think this affected the overall continuity. Still, this is one of the finest of modern fantasy series, with well developed characters in a world that is well thought out. I can easily see other series taking place in this universe, and eagerly anticipate the next Overstreet novel. ( )
  Bill.Bradford | Aug 15, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Honestly, at this point in the series, I'm a little bit lost in all the allegory. I really liked Auralia's Colors, but I think I missed the boat on what all of this is meant to 'be', and now it's just a pale imitation of Lord of the Rings. ( )
  boppie | Aug 13, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As with most fantasy series, it's practically impossible to summarize the events of the story without facing spoiler issues, so I won't. If you think you'll be interested in reading The Ale Boy's Feast, then you really should start with the first books in the series, Auralia's Colors, and then read through all four books in order. And if you liked the first three, then you'll probably love this, the final book.

I've been reading the Auralia's Thread series since only the first book came out, primarily because I liked reading Overstreet's movie reviews, and I was curious if he could write fiction equally well. To begin with, I wasn't convinced. There's an unevenness of tone in the first book, and it sometimes felt a bit too much like an exercise in imitation of Patricia McKillip. All of the books are somewhat difficult to get into--at least in part my own fault, as I never bother to reread the previous books in the series in preparation for a new installment--but by the end, I'm utterly absorbed.

In this regard, The Ale Boy's Feast was no exception. It took me about a quarter of the book to readjust to the characters, plot, and prose style, but once I did, I was completely engaged and stayed up until 3 am to finish it at one sitting. Overstreet's prose is still variable, but he hits the right notes far more often than not, and his use of theological metaphor is very well done, not half as heavy-handed as I was fearing. In fact, once the theological elements came seriously into play (in the last few chapters), the emotional impact was enhanced, and I did find myself slightly teary-eyed. (Okay, it was after 2.30, which might have had something to do with it--but, still!) So, ultimately, I would very much recommend this book (along with the rest of the series) to lyric fantasy aficionados, whether religious or not, with the caveat that it might take a bit of work to become full invested in the story. It is really a lovely book, though.
  InfoQuest | Aug 8, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is one of the first series that I've read in a long time where I've really connected to the characters and been enthralled (mostly) by the story. As plots go, it's fairly standard fantasy in the making: There is good and there is evil and there are small, strange, gray spots, and the evil must be eradicated because it's trying to take over the good. The nuance comes in with certain characters' abilities, due to their direct ancestry from the four factions' leader: Some can mold stone, some can walk through fire unharmed, some can sing or play gorgeous music, and there are various and sundry other ways hinted at in the books.

The writing style is really fascinating, and it's quite obvious that Overstreet is coming from a background dealing more with movies and film. This isn't a bad thing; rather, it's a point in his favor, because scenes are described just enough to get a vivid mental picture, and have the kinetic energy (or lack thereof) appropriate to a scene. It stands out from the typical plodding fantasy or the fast-paced, frenzied fantasy because of that.

The downside? Clearly a first-timer to the fantasy realm, with highly unusual (and almost unpronounceable) names for people and places that don't stick in your head for quite some time—which alone almost made me put down the first book in frustration. Another is that pacing seems to be a bit of an issue, with seemingly unimportant (or overstated) things being drawn out to a very slow and painful release, and some very important things (for instance, the death of a second-tier character) being described in one sentence and never touched again. There's something to be said for both a long and desperate journey taking up the space of an entire novel and for rapid-fire action taking place with staccato sentences, but sometimes, a moderate amount of description is necessary for both.

Coming as a conclusion to the series, this book ties up the loose threads (and deals with a rather stretched-out plot coming from book three, [Raven's Ladder]) and suggests more at the end, as I believe a good ending should. Overstreet neatly ties everything up, and does so in a manner that doesn't feel initially too contrived, but still deals a fairly heavy dose of deus ex machina. Life naturally goes on for the characters at the end of the book, and there are certainly questions left to be answered, but any having to do directly with the plot are summed up in a reasonably straightforward way.

Having read in the author bios that Overstreet was active in the Christian community (and reading the various Thank Yous in the acknowledgements), I was a little bit skeptical about the material of the book—particularly since I'd gotten another Early Reviewers book that was very distinctly and heavy-handed-ly Christian fiction, which is not at all my cup of tea—but it just goes to show that not every author feels the need to preach their beliefs when they write. There are certain happenings that, when looked for or analyzed in that particular light, seem to be heavy handed in their "Isn't Christianity wonderful?" light, but those are things that are fairly typical in mythic fantasy. A scene with characters being taken into a Paradise-like setting, for instance, is just as typical a description of Heaven as it could be of Tolkien's Grey Havens. The mysterious, magical, older teacher-mage type could be God, but it could just as easily be a Gandalf or a Dumbledore. Don't let it turn you off of a good series! ( )
  raistlinsshadow | Aug 8, 2011 |
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For Anne
Her imagination inspired the adventure, her belief in these stories gave me the confidence, her listening ear helped me tune the instruments, her hard work alongside me made the series possible, and her presence was a blessing on the journey from the grasses beside the River Throanscall to the mists beyond the Forbidding Wall.
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A mystery led the old man from the shelter of the trees.
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The king is missing. His people are trapped as the woods turn deadly. Underground, the boy called Rescue has found an escape. Hopes are failing across The Expanse. The forests, once beautiful, are now haunted and bloodthirsty. House Abascar's persecuted people risk their lives to journey through those predatory trees. They seek a mythic city - Abascar's last, best hope for refuge - where they might find the source of Auralia's colors. They journey without their king. During a calamitous attempt to rescue some of his subjects from slavery, Cal-raven vanished. But his helper, the ale boy, falling through a crack in the earth, has discovered a slender thread of hope in the dark. He will dare to lead a desperate company up the secret river. Meanwhile, with a dragon's help, the wandering mage Scharr ben Fray is uncovering history's biggest lie - a deception that only a miracle can repair. Time is running out for all those entangled in The Auralia Thread. But hope and miracles flicker wherever Auralia's colors are found.… (more)

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