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The Beginning of Everything

The Rising, Book 1
Written by: Kristen Ashley
Series: The Rising
Length: 15 hrs and 14 mins
Categories: Romance, Fantasy

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Publisher's Summary

From the unparalleled imagination of New York Times best-selling author Kristen Ashley comes an enchanting new audio-first fantasy romance series that will sweep you away!

Once upon a time, in a parallel universe, there existed the continent of Triton. The land was filled with beauty, but it was also splintered by war. Out of the chaos grew a conspiracy to reawaken the Beast, a fearsome creature who wrought only tragedy and devastation. The only way to stop him was to fulfill an ancient prophecy: Triton’s four strongest warriors must wed its four most powerful witches, binding all nations together and finally bringing peace to the land. 

This is the story of their unions: the quiet maiden Silence and the savage king Mars. The cold warrior Cassius and the fiery witch Elena. The steadfast soldier True and the banished beauty Farah. And the pirate king Aramus and the mysterious queen Ha-Lah. Their unions will not be easy, but each couple must succeed, for the fate of their world is at stake....

©2019 Kristen Ashley (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.

What listeners say about The Beginning of Everything

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 03-12-19

A big fan of K.A., but...

I'm going to preface what I have to say by stating that I've followed Kristen since she published her first book. I own all but a handful of her books and have never given her such a bad review; it's usually an automatic four or five (only given to books I've read more than once) stars.

Kristen historically writes about women who are smart, independent, multidimensional dynamos! It's a welcome change from the dim-witted, emotionally inept women so often portrayed in most romance stories. I also appreciate that she takes her time in world/character building no matter how long that makes the stories.

It's because of the above that I'm writing this review. I initially read the first two chapters and made a hard stop. Truth be told had it been any other author I would have requested a refund. I started all over the next day with the determination to get through the whole book before passing judgment.

On the positive side, it's a great start to a new book (sans my negative comments below). Huge kudos for developing a series that follows four couples, and ancillary characters, concurrently through a series of four books. That's a huge paradigm shift to Kristen's normal writing style, and I don't know too many writers that could pull that off and keep the readership engaged. Also, I'd be remiss in not mentioning the addition of different cultures, races, ethnicities - this makes made characters even more dynamic!!!

Spoiler alert*

What I don't like about the book:
* a ritualistic gang rape and murder at the very start of the book, with a high probability of more to follow in subsequent books as that's how they feed the beast,
* an exorbitant amount of sodomy and orgies (m/m, m/m/f) among more than one culture, and among the priests. I don't mind a bit of this, but there was far, far too much for my comfort. Ick!
* Men using sex as a tool of manipulation/control.
*multiple narrators - I see the need for them, especially in this book with so many POVs, but I found so many to be distracting. I wasted a lot of time trying to place the accents as many didn't sound authentic (i.e. one of the accents was either Italian Spanish or Hindi).

While I don't consider myself a prude, I would never go out of my way to purchase a book with so much sexual violence unless it was based on reality and I wanted to expand my horizons.

119 people found this helpful

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  • The Curious Otter
  • 09-12-19

May have Triggers for some. Not impressed.

I've read a few Kristen Ashley books so I usually understand her style of over the top descriptions at times. It generally doesn't bother me, but for this Story, with so many characters introduced in the beginning, it can get very confusing. Without giving each character a really good distinct personality, the convoluted descriptions just get tiring and drawn out and then I can't recall which character is even being re-introduced in a specific scene.

This book also NEEDS to come with warnings. There are several Rape Scenes and Sexual Abuse scenes that are very graphically described, and some may feel very uncomfortable with it. ie: M/M scenes. 3 in the first 1/3 of the book alone. I personally felt like this was an attempt to shock, like Game of Thrones was able to do on Television. But if you're sensitive to those topics, then I do not recommend this book.

And a side note, all the narrators did an amazing job!! I would've loved to have more of an audio production similarly to Lauren Blakely's audible originals of Birthday Suit and Instant Gratification where each Narrator has their own character and will voice them during all scenes with their character. Multicast basically.

This book definitely seems to cater to a very specific crowd. My opinion favours towards (unfortunately) the lower ratings of this book. If you do enjoy it, then great.. looks like there are a few sequels coming your way.

89 people found this helpful

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  • 🔵🔷🔹Del-VALLE🔹🔷🔵
  • 28-11-19

It’s complicated!

At the very beginning I was able to understand the plot, however as more characters were introduced to the story, it got a bit complicated and it was difficult to understand who was who. I had to go back and forth a bit, but once I had most of the characters in hand, it was easier to understand.

This is the first of a series, and had I known it wouldn’t have a completely full ending, I would have waited for the rest of the books to come out.

Once you get a handle of what’s going on, it is a very interesting story.

The full cast of narrators was simply excellent.

I can’t wait for the whole story to be complete, so I can binge listen to the whole thing.

25 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jessica M. Henn
  • 16-12-19

Noping out early - TRIGGER WARNING

I got 7 minutes and 45 seconds into this book when I decided I didn't want to continue. Does it get better? Maybe. I choose to view it as they set a tone in those minutes and if it was to continue on in a similar vein I had no interest in continuing.
The preface starts with a British woman telling me about the histories of the countries and I started zoning out immediately. They broke the show don't tell rule and I was fearful the book would all be like that. Then it announces the beginning of chapter 1 and I became hopeful again. This narrator has a cool accent, that must just be a preface and now it will get good. Well, the opening scene is a ritual sacrifice in which a virgin is staked in a spread eagle position, raped by 4 dudes, then stabbed to death. So I decided I didn't need to continue. Even though the rapey bits made lead dude squeamish, he still went along with it and it sounded like he was totally fine with the murder bits, and those just aren't characteristics that make me swoon. So though I know I didn't listen to the whole 15 hours before writing this review, for me this book wasn't even worth 10 minutes of my life.

54 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • sandrathereader
  • 02-12-19

Not a lot of romance, but I know its coming!

Like in many of this author’s books, I am always highly anticipating the release of her books. It was no different with this one, even though it was released on audio only. I do have to be honest and say listening to it was a bit confusing with so many different characters and narrators involved. And I was really thinking since it was a little over 15 hours long, it was going to take me awhile to finish, but as the story went on, I became more and more fascinated and invested in the main characters and needed to know what happened next.

There were a few scenes that were tough, MM sex is something I have read, but not a favorite and unfortunately there isn’t a lot of love in these scenes. Actually there really is not a lot of romance in this first installment at all (we get close at the end with one couple, but that one also ends with problems). Because these characters are also getting to know each other and with so much going on, there really is not a lot of time for love to develop, but we can see some of the spark is there and because of my trust in this author, I know their HEAs are going to be epic.

The ending was on the cliffhanger side, but with only a month wait I can handle that.

10 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • elizabeth rabe
  • 27-11-19

Fantastic Start!

So for me when I first started this book I was really confused. There is so much going on and so many characters, that I could not keep up. However, I persevered through it and finally it all started coming together. I understand why this boom has all the couples at one time. I am loving the way this story is being told, and I am aching for the next book. ALL of the narrator's were out of this world. I love love love the start to this book!!

9 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Morinne J Kearns
  • 07-12-19

Rape in first paragraph

One paragraph in and a woman is tied up crying after being raped, and one of the main characters is all, “I didn’t really like that, but oh well.” Awful. Didn’t continue listening.

29 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • IreneMBBT
  • 02-12-19

Get into it before deciding

I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book but did - after I got further into it. Ashley introduced so many characters so early that it was hard to remember names and who they were and what country they were associated with. In most books, you become invested in the primary protagonist and get drawn into the story. Not possible here. You have to move forward into the book and then you become interested/invested in the story and charmed by the characters. I borrowed the book through my Audible Escape plan and this story made the subscription for this month worthwhile.
My only recommendation is that Ashley get better editing assistance. Example: I really enjoyed Elena giving Cass a jolt when she walks into the Dinner, and I really liked their conversation when alone!! But I found the beginning of the same chapter, The Bargain, to be over-the-top disingenuous with her description of the makeup application. The book could greatly benefit from editing down at least 10-20%, and maybe taking 4 books down to 3. It’s not like she’s writing a single book about each of the couples.

I fully intend to check out the next book in the series to see where Ashley takes the characters and storyline. I would be thrilled if she can see it through at this level or above.
The multiple cast performances for the narration was wonderful. I believe it elevated the book up a level.

14 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Book Bruin
  • 20-12-19

Intriguing & Somewhat Confusing Fantasy Romance

I've heard a lot about Kristen Ashley and her books, but this is my first book by her. Fantasy romance is not my typical read/listen, but I found it really intriguing and entertaining. There is A LOT going on in this book. There are numerous characters, storylines, alliances, and locations to keep track of and sift through. I understand (and expect) for the first book in a series like this to be somewhat confusing and detailed though, because it is setting the stage for everything and building a brand new world. I do wish, however, that there would have been some kind of glossary or reference for listeners to keep track of all the characters and new terminology. Because of this, I will admit that I'm not 100% sure releasing this as an audiobook first was the best decision.

It took a bit for me to become invested in the story, since much of the beginning is laying the foundation for what's to come and introducing us to the 8 different main characters. Once things got going though, I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next and the final chapter had me on the edge of my seat! I really liked the contrast between each of the couples (as well as the individuals), but I did feel that the instalove was too strong. Feelings can certainly develop quickly, but I need more than a shared glance or stare for these deep connections to form. I had also hoped that the women (especially Elena) would have been just as strong and powerful as their male counterparts based off of the blurb, but it appears that is not the case at least in this book. My fingers are crossed that the power differential will improve as the series progresses. I also felt that some of the sex scenes were unnecessary and overly graphic, especially since most did not involve one of the 4 main couples. The entire Serena storyline is problematic to me as well and just seems so out of character for her, given what we currently know about her.

My favorite characters at this point are cousins, True and Silence. True is the least alpha of all the men, but I'm always a sucker for the all around good guy gentleman. His history with Elena is an interesting twist and I'm curious to see if that will become an issue later in the series. Silence showed the most growth through the course of the book and I loved her curiosity and how she embraced the Firenze culture. I was all in for her and Mars up until he began discussing the practices of Firenze married couples. I don't condemn him for bringing it up though since it is a common and accepted occurrence in their culture, but I'm hoping that Silence will eventually voice her displeasure over this in the future.

The narration of The Beginning of Everything by this all star cast is incredible! There is so much variety and each performer brings a unique sound to the characters they are voicing. I am impressed not only by the multiple accents and the ability of the performers to voice both male and female characters so convincingly, but also the range of emotions that they each convey. This is an amazingly talented group of narrators, and I'm looking forward to continuing on with the series.

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • S. B. Designs
  • 27-11-19

At last!

I am not finished reading. In fact I’m only on chapter five, yet I felt the urge to stop and write this review. The Fantasyland series is one of my favorites of the Kristen Ashley creations. So I am thrilled that this is more of that world.
My only complaint is that it is not also available in Kindle. I frequently buy both and switch back and forth as the story progresses depending on my surroundings.
That being said, the performances of the narrators so far have been excellent. Their voices add to the emotions and dimensions of the story.

10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Lizziebe
  • 27-11-19

Gruesome in parts, echoes of Free and Honey series

** spoiler alert ** I am not a fan of audible but as this book is not in print until summer 2020 I used my Amazon free trial to try this out.
This series is linked to the Fantasyland series but takes place 25 years later across the sea.
Some characters from the Fantasyland series appear.
One of my issues with KA is her long descriptions, deco, clothes etc and it's difficult to skip in audible definitely not as easy as a book.
The start is pretty gruesome with virgin sacrifice and m/m sex. Gave me thoughts of 'Free' please no.
If you struggled with Dax Lahn you may want to be prepared for this one.
The scene is set with the foreboding of 'the beast' rising.
Four princes need to marry four witches to save the world.
It's a whole new world building with new customs and cultures and conflict within the different areas.
Plus family discord.

There is also some descriptive violence.

The issue I had with audible is the names are unfamiliar so I forgot who was who.
N the audible version each character has a different accent to differentiate them.
In this book the race the Hero and the race the heroine is from have lots of preconceived ideas about each other.
Also it seems that although the four marriages are needed for the good of all the four couples are less than happy.

I am also not keen on a reluctant Hero. This book has a such a Hero, he is hung on his deceased wife, who died in childbirth.
Another couple the heroine thinks she's in love with someone else.

At the first scene with our 'Hero' he is having sex with a maid at the palace.

A second Hero, Aramus has been married for 6 months but he and his wife are not getting along.
It seems fidelity is not common in these lands.
Although the main four Hero's have no scenes with any other women after meeting their intended.


The cold warrior Cassius and the fiery witch Elena.
The steadfast soldier True and the banished beauty Farah.
The pirate king Aramus and the mysterious queen Ha-Lah.
The quiet maiden Silence and the savage king Mars.

It seems the book will deal with more than one couple per book.
It is multiple POV. Each chapter changes POV.
Some are m/m. Detailed scenes.
It feels to me that KA is determined to introduce us to aspects of the Honey series she wrote whether we like it or not.
Almost every enemy chapter contains this type of sex.
It didn't need it. One chapter was just basically a whole m/m scene.
I ended up skipping the menu chapters as other than sex I couldn't see much relevance to the plot.


It's not until chapter 10 that any of the couples meet since the announcements of the arranged marriages.

There is a lot of world building and history explained.

Events leading to book 2. Some events are set up ready to happen and relationships although in progress have much work to do to get to their HEA.

It has touches of KA beauty though the Honey series and Free touches linger and to me seem unnecessary.

Despite the couples initial differences each couple have met and had a conversation where you can see they could work things out.

The change of POV every chapter works, we are given the setting and person at the introduction of the chapter.

I may alter my star rating depending on how the themes of the series are developed.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Melissa
  • 15-07-20

Incredible

Honestly one of the best audiobooks I've listened to! It has such a great romance throughout the series. The performers are great. It feels like you're watching a movie. Great plot, great entertainment. Truly enjoyed!

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  • Book addict
  • 08-02-20

3.5 stars

Mostly good book, but a lot of the sex seemed forced into the book to titillate, rather than it adding to the story - and not all of it came across that naturally. Also, having rape as a plot mechanism just seems distasteful and gratuitous and many other scenarios could have served the same purpose in the book. Using rape to sell books is just off.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 03-02-20

Once it gets going, you cannot stop.

It takes me about 45 minutes to drive to work and back, each way. This is my audible time. It took a few chapters to get started, but boy, once the characters and plot is sorted, I couldn't stop listening. I even spent and extra few minutes in the car park just listening. The characters are brought to life by the many readers, which makes them quickly identifiable throughout the book. Absolutely loved the story. Can't wait to continue the story.

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  • Missy
  • 22-01-20

Uncontained Reading

I loved this read. I usually listen to my chosen audiobook on my commute to and from work....but this one I have been listening all sort of time day and night. LOVE IT!!!!
I am starting the next one right now.

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  • jolene willshee
  • 03-12-19

Already awaiting the next...

Intriguing from the start. This is Kristen back at her best. Can’t wait for the next in the series.

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  • Elle
  • 28-11-19

Magical 5 Stars ⭐️

I’m only a few chapters into this book, but I’m totally addicted.
If you loved the Fantasyland series you will love this.

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  • Nakia
  • 16-02-20

Graphic Sex scenes, rape and borderline rape

The storyline is fast moving and it made me want to listen. I am interested in hearing or reading the⁰! rest of the books however I found the sex scenes difficult to listen too, mostly because of the violence and ambiguity of consent.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Koko
  • 13-04-20

Disappointed and grossed out

**The following review contains spoilers**
I want to start this by saying I am the biggest KA Fan out there. I've been there since the beginning, gobble every single thing she puts out. I also want to say that I listened to every single minute of this series to ensure I wouldn't be premature in my critique.
That noted, let me just say that I severely disliked nearly everything about this series.
It contains gratuitous, unnecessary violence described in graphic detail. Every single "bad guy" was gay - which is hugely problematic and plays into a disturbing stereotype which I just cannot support.
The next issue is with the length of books themselves. There was little action occurring across the first three books, then in the final the action scenes happened in the last three chapters - and most of it occurred off-page. This entire series could have been one or two books long had all the extraneous descriptions and drawn out side arcs been shortened or cut. It would have been punchier, edgier, and less long-winded.
There was also a cacophony of characters. The narrators were excellent, really leaning in to the characters they were trying to embody, but there were far too many. It seemed, even in the final closing chapters of the last book, that new characters were still being introduced. And worse, they all spoke the same, used similar phrases, and had little to differentiate them from one another beyond the accents from the narrators. I'm not sure how many times the word "thus" was used in this series but it was far too often.
It also took me some time to decipher one character from the other because they blended together, the chapters were choppy due to changing perspectives, and there was little to no reference points when reintroducing characters. Often I needed to relisten to remember who was speaking and how they were connected to the rest of the novel.
My final concern wasn't with the premise, the numerous characters, or the long drawn out build up to a climax that fell flat. No, it was that the one interesting and unique character was fundamentally rewritten in the most disappointing of ways. Serena, the glorious princess and general, the strength of her people. a true warrior. She didn't want the crown and repaired her relationship with her sister, sure, that shows character growth. I could even work with the kink of being a sub because every strong woman needs an out.
But I hated how she went from being this dominant, kickass, amazing woman to complete pushover. You don't need to be one or the other, it is more than possible to be both a fantastic woman, strong and cunning while also being vulnerable and feminie. It killed me that this amazing character was dismissed at the end, resulting in a bittersweet ending to what could have been a wonderful story arc.
I'll say this - I'll continue to read and support KA throughout her career. She's an excellent writer and a wonderful human being, but this is a far departure from her normal brilliance.
I'll hold out for a new series.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kelly
  • 04-03-20

Wonderful Narration

I've been waiting for all 4 of the audios to release so I could listen to The Rising series all close together. I'll be honest, I had to concentrate really hard for the first few hours of The Beginning of Everything. SO many different characters on top of the 4 main couples, the different narrators, the different accents. Some very graphic scenes as well.

I enjoyed the second half of The Beginning of Everything more than the first, from the perspective that I was more able to understand what was happening, I was getting to know all the different characters and the couples were starting to come together more. There was more of Elena & Cassius, and Mars & Silence than the other 2 main couples so I was enjoying listening to their relationship development. I'm wanting to see lots more of these couples falling for each other. Especially Mars - I want him to fall HARD, after what he told Silence towards the end!

There are multiple narrators, so it was a really good performance to listen to....... even more so once I figured out what was going on story wise.

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  • Robyn Fletcher
  • 28-02-20

Bloody brilliant

I don’t normally type anything but this was great. I love KA and all her books, I had trouble remembering who was who in the beginning but so worth the effort to remember everyone’s names 👍 got the next one downloaded already

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 10-02-20

A Good Listen

This whole series so far is "A Good Listen", up to usual Kristen Ashley High Standard. Possibly to many separate threads to the story, making it a little hard to keep up with at times. Needs your full attention, rather than something to have on in the background. Not sure how any other format could have worked for these books though. Excellent Narration as always.

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  • Jenifer
  • 11-12-19

WHERE’S THE PRINTED VERSION

Like so many audio books, its necessary to refer to the written version for characters, names, places.
I got lost in the first chapter and cannot find a printed copy.
What’s the go?

1 person found this helpful