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Transformation by Carol Berg

Transformation (2000)

by Carol Berg

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1,0203212,627 (4.13)52
  1. 10
    Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb (sandstone78)
    sandstone78: For epic fantasy that is rarely makes things easy for its protagonists

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Seyonne was a Warden until Aleksander's people striped him of his magic and enslaved him. When he becomes Aleksander's slave he sees something special in the arrogant prince. The demons are out to enslave Aleksander's people and their attack on the prince calls Seyonne back to duty fighting demons even without his magic. An epic tale of the transformation of an arrogant prince and a slave who thought he had lost everything.
( )
  wyldheartreads | Jun 20, 2019 |
Transformation has been on my to-read list for almost two decades, and I'm glad to have finally focused on it. It is one of Carol Berg first novels, and she is still cooking up new fantasy (pen name Cate Glass, An Illusion of Thieves).

Transformation is epic, but feels fresh, and is very engrossing. It is highly recommended for fantasy readers. Here's why:

- Perspective: It is written in first-person perspective, and at 450 pages it's a decent size. Yet it reads fast. Most fantasy epics are omniscient third person. Inherently, first-person indicates the narrator will always survive, but Seyonne and his friends, family, etc. are always in peril.

- Complex, fun story: There are tons of plot twists, betrayals... so it is tough to share a summary without spoiling (the official Book Blurb is a good overview). Somehow every story arc is concluded in a satisfying way, but that doesn't mean you'll stop at this first installment.

- Atypical, angelic warfare: The overriding conflict is essentially "~angels/humans vs. ~demons" but none of those categories match religious cliches or fantasy tropes. There are several humanoid cultures, but not the trope elves, dwarves etc.. The sorcerers are the "angelic" ones, but are far from perfect.

- Exorcism/magic: A key magic system has several types of sorcerers/sorceresses that need to work together as team: i.e., one can find possessed victims, another can open doors into mental-battlegrounds, and another can enter and fight/exorcise demons. Other fantasy may have different flavors of mages (druids, illusionists, etc.) but they aren't dependent on each other--here we have Searchers, Aifes, Wardens that truly rely on one another.

- The Books of the Rai-kirah trilogy: Transformation starts the series, then Revelation, then Restoration

- The Author's website has excerpts, reviews, glossaries, maps, and more. ( )
  SELindberg | Jun 8, 2019 |
I liked this, the writing was good, the characters were likable, the plot was original, the world was interesting. I wouldn't have been ashamed to have written this and I don't regret reading it. But...

It really didn't blow me away, so I don't think I'm going to read the next two books. It did wrap up nicely and like I said, I did like it, I just read to slow to read "good" books. I would rather take a chance on something else and hope that it does blow me away. So I guess it's kind of double or nothing, because obviously I might end up reading something that is NOT a "good" book. I'm willing to take that chance. ( )
  ragwaine | May 9, 2018 |
Sayonne, a slave sold to the son of the Emperor, finds himself dealing not only with a dunderheaded owner, but with demons who've infested some powerful race from up north. And he, stripped of his magic when captured, is now not equipped to do anything about them.

I really enjoyed the story, liked the world-building and found the characters well drawn and sympathetic. Sayonne's way of dealing with his situation is heartbreaking at times, as is any creature forced into slavery by anyone, unfeeling or not. ( )
  majkia | May 3, 2017 |
A minor miracle has just occurred. I’ve actually listened to an entire, full-length, 16.5-hour audiobook. Some of my followers may have seen me rant and rave about this at one point or another: I’m not a good audiobook listener. My attention drifts and, even when I’m paying complete attention, I feel like I don’t absorb things as well as I do through the written word. On a more bizarre note, I get really annoyed when somebody talks non-stop for a lengthy period of time. I’ve actually become irrationally annoyed at narrators of audiobooks because they just won’t shut up, never mind the fact that they’re only doing what they’re supposed to be doing and I'm the one who turned them on in the first place! Then I remember that I have the power to make them stop talking and I turn them off.

To add perspective, I only made it a few hours into Neverwhere, narrated by Neil Gaiman. I’d read it several years ago, I liked the story, and Gaiman is a great narrator, but I reached a point where I just couldn’t listen to him anymore. I tried listening to The Android's Dream by John Scalzi during a road trip. After an hour, I was in genuine danger of falling asleep and I had to turn it off. (I’ll have to try it again in print sometime.) I tried listening to the Wool Omnibus, a book I really enjoyed a couple years ago. I can’t remember if I even made it through the first 50-page part. I tried listening to The Way of Shadows, and I did make it several hours into that one, but eventually the melodramatic narration got on my last nerve. Ok, I guess you believe me now, I’m not good at audiobooks. :)

This book, Transformation, is the first book in Carol Berg’s Rai-Kirah series. I’d read the series in print five and a half years ago and really loved it. I had also read a couple duologies by the author earlier this year and I would now rank them among my all-time favorite books. Reading those made me want to re-read this series, but I hated to take precious reading time away from the many new-to-me books I want to read, so I thought I’d make yet another attempt at an audiobook. It completely absorbed me; I was hooked on the story all over again. I started listening to it on a road trip, and then I continued listening during my normal commutes. For the first time since I moved to Atlanta, I found myself actually wanting to get stuck in traffic. :)

The story is told from the first-person perspective of a slave named Seyonne. His people have been decimated by a war, most of them killed or captured by a race known as the Derzhi. Unknown to most of the world, Seyonne’s people have devoted their lives to fighting demons so that the rest of the world can live free. Needless to say, the decimation of Seyonne’s people does not bode well for the fate of the world. At the beginning of the story, Seyonne, who has already been in slavery for sixteen years, is sold to the Prince of the Derzhi people. Prince Aleksander is arrogant and selfish, and Seyonne is treated very poorly. However, when Aleksander falls prey to a demon enchantment, Seyonne is the only one who sees what’s happening and has any idea what to do. It soon becomes clear that there is a deeper demon plot that goes far beyond this one incident. The story is absorbing, and the author really made me care about the main characters. The friendship that develops between Seyonne and Aleksander is one of the best parts of the book, and there are some other good relationships as well.

The narrator, Kevin Stillwell, had a narration style that worked well for me. He distinguished between character voices well, but I think what helped the most was that he read the story in a more understated manner. I’m starting to suspect that the more dramatic narrators are the ones most likely to get on my nerves, even the good ones like Neil Gaiman. That doesn’t mean my listening was frustration-free. Listening to the story felt sort of like walking around without my contact lenses in: I can still see pretty well, but everything is just a bit hazy and I miss the greater sharpness I’m accustomed to. Sometimes I just really wanted to see the words with my eyes, either to understand them better or to stare at my favorite passages and bask in the words a bit. Other times, I was too distracted to listen well and I would end up rewinding an entire commute’s worth of listening so I could listen to that part again when I had better focus.

In any case, I’m really happy at how well this audiobook worked for me, and I’m hopeful that the next two books in the series will work equally well. The commute is so much more pleasant when I can spend it wrapped up in a story, and it’s also a nice way to re-read old favorites. Maybe I’ll eventually build up a better tolerance for the narrators I find more grating and get better at focusing on the stories that don’t hold my attention as completely as this one did. ( )
  YouKneeK | Jan 30, 2017 |
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To Mother, who taught me of books, and Pete, who taught me to reach. And to Linda, who taught me that putting words on paper was the first and most important step, and whose generous listening and perceptive questioning at innumerable "story lunches" forced Seyonne and Aleksander, Seri, Aidan, Dante, Will, and the rest of them to reveal themselves.
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Ezzarian prophets say that the gods fight their battles within the souls of men and that if the deities mislike the battleground, they reshape it according to their will.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451457951, Mass Market Paperback)

Seyonne is a man waiting to die. He has been a slave for sixteen years, almost half his life, and has lost everything of meaning to him: his dignity, the people and homeland he loves, and the Warden's power he used to defend an unsuspecting world from the ravages of demons. Seyonne has made peace with his fate. With strict self-discipline he forces himself to exist only in the present moment and to avoid the pain of hope or caring about anyone. But from the moment he is sold to the arrogant, careless Prince Aleksander, the heir to the Derzhi Empire, Seyonne's uneasy peace begins to crumble. And when he discovers a demon lurking in the Derzhi court, he must find hope and strength in a most unlikely place...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:07 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A debut novelist brings readers into an exotic world where a crusader struggles to rise above the demons who enslave him. Seyonne, whose people were once guardians of the magic, is sold to the cold and cruel heir of the Derzhi Empire. In this unlikely place, Seyonne will triumph. For within his new master lie the seeds of greatness.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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