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The Wretched of Muirwood

Legends of Muirwood, Book 1
Written by: Jeff Wheeler
Narrated by: Kate Rudd
Length: 8 hrs and 50 mins

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Publisher's Summary

The Wretched of Muirwood, the opening novel in the Muirwood Trilogy, is the tale of the orphan Lia - who is part of a pariah caste known only as the "wretched", a people unloved, unwanted, and destined to a life of servitude. Forbidden to read or write, and forced to slave away in the Abbey kitchen, Lia is all but resigned to her fate. But when an injured squire named Colvin is abandoned at the Abbey kitchen, opportunity arises, and Lia conspires to hide Colvin and change her life forever.…

Her plan becomes a perilous one when a nefarious sheriff starts a manhunt for Colvin, and the land is torn by a treacherous war between a ruthless king and a rebel army. Ominous and illuminating, Lia sets out on an epic quest for freedom with hopes to unravel the secrets of her concealed past.

©2013 Jeff Wheeler (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What members say

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  • Dylan
  • 17-04-14

An unexpected gem

This book was offered at a discount and not many seemed to have listened to it. Based solely on this my expectations were not high as to the books content. I'm happy to say I was pleasantly surprised to find a story which excelled in every way. It was well written, well paced and rooted in human emotion. Each character is complex (and gets even more so in future volumes.) It is an old world book about magic but don't expect any Lord of the Rings type creatures. The story works perfectly well without them. I found myself thinking of the book when away from it, caring and wondering what would happen next to the characters and Jeff Wheeler never disappointed me.
Kate Rudd does an outstanding job in her narration with both male and female voices. She gives each character a distinctive voice with emotions that you can hear the change. (Not all the males sound the same no matter what they are feeling.)
This book and this series is highly recommended!

26 people found this helpful

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  • Skipper
  • 16-11-16

Faith-based fantasy series

Good narration. Religious Epic Fantasy, told in 3rd person POV, almost entirely from the perspective of the 13-year-old heroine, Lia. She's the titular "wretched" because she was abandoned at birth at Muirwood Abbey, and doesn't know her lineage. Strangely, we also get a very brief perspective from the false-Maston, a thief with a name like Scarface.

No sex and no swearing, but there is death, sometimes gruesome. The story contains several recognizable religious messages — mainly Christian and Mormon undercurrents. Faith versus fear. Family, ancestry, resurrection, the laying on of hands, the passing of gifts, the sacred nature of scripture, reading, and writing. The Medium represents the Spirit, or God. The "myriad ones" are demons.

Happily, the events unfold in linear fashion, with none of that annoying scene hopping and POV leaping.

Cool start. At first I thought the book was going to be quite intriguing, with the empty tombs, the floating boulder, the gargoyle "leering" from every rock. I liked Lia, and felt for the tough decisions she had to make. The abbey kitchen, orchard, and cemetery felt real to me, like a real place.

Then the characters, the plot elements, the fantastical world building — it all began to diminish, giving way to a message of "never harbor doubt" and "have no fear" and "I will deliver your enemies into your hand" etc. Acts of god. I have no problem with inspirational stories and "virtuous characters" but the plot became too predictable after Lea discovered The Medium within her. The wins came too easily and too thoroughly. And I wasn't too crazy about Corvin.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 01-02-13

Nice Surprise from Unknown Author

I wasn't sure what to expect when picking out this book, and was pleasantly surprised with an engaging listen - follows the story of an orphan kitchen girl as she helps an unknown knight.

Nice, strong girl lead, characters a bit cardboard cut-outs- act asone would expect - the shy sidekick, the wise leader, the fiesty girl, the rough on the outside, tender on the inside cook. But the plot and premise is original.

A good listen, and I bought the following one in the series.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Zulu
  • 05-08-14

Coming of Age Story

First, I've listened to all three books in the trilogy, so this review covers all of them.

When I first read the summary for this book I wondered why I had gotten it, but luckily it was a pleasant surprise. I'm usually not too fond of coming of age stories but this one was pretty good. The characters developments grow through the story. Even minor characters have depth to them. There's magic and action. I read some reviewers who said there was a lot of preaching and religious aspects but I didn't find it overwhelming or even really thought of this as a religious book, unlike some I've accidentally listened to. After all, the main character was raised in an Abby and the storyline is centered around them.

Lia starts out as a wretched (what we would call an orphan) in an Abby. We get to go along with her on her adventures as she discovers who she really is.

The narrator did an excellent job and added a lot to the story.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jason
  • 27-02-14

Better than Jeff's other book Fireblood

I'd just completed "Fireblood: Whispers from Mirrowen" and had fairly low expectations when beginning this novel. I was pleasantly surprised. It is hard to believe that they are written by the same author. This story was so much better than Fireblood. The narrator was better as well.

I found I could empathize with the main character Lia. I celebrated her victories and lamented her defeats. It was such a stark contrast from Fireblood where I didn't really care if any of the main characters lived or died. They were all a rather unsavory bunch.

That being said you can tell that writing is not Jeff Wheeler's day job. That doesn't diminish from my enjoyment but you can tell his writing lacks the depth and polish you would find from a fantasy author who makes his living as a writer. I suspect Mr. Wheeler will get there someday if he keeps writing and I would encourage him to do just that.

If you're looking for something polished or an epic fantasy this isn't it. If you want a solid story with a likable main character I'd recommend you pick this up.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Ryan
  • 26-02-13

Average

Any additional comments?

I had high hopes after reading previous reviews. There was nothing special about this book, it was very average. It filled the time, but I found the main character pretty annoying at times. It is a coming of age story, however the young girl just comes off as a complaining winer rather than a woman trying to find herself. There were times when you just wanted to tell her to "shut up" :-X

I would move on. There is better stuff on Audible.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Shannon
  • 02-08-14

Narrator can kill a decent story

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

The story itself is decent. Typical fantasy with the protagonist discovering they are special rather than the ordinary person they have been told they are. No surprises there. So don't listen to this story for novelty. Sadly, it is the narrator who makes the story almost too hard to listen to. She fluctuates from sing song words to a stilted articulation of every syllable which is so distracting that it keeps the listener from being lost in the story. I purchased theses books without listening to the example. If I had, I probably would have just read the kindle edition.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The way magic works in the world is interesting.

How could the performance have been better?

A different narrator.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Matt
  • 23-10-18

Mormon fan fiction

Wheeler does have the ability to tell a compelling story and create characters the reader cares about. I've read or listened to all of his other published works, and enjoyed them for the most part. This one, however, became grating the longer it went on. While of course I'd expect an author's life experience to influence their writing, the religious overtones are too strong in this work. Being thoroughly familiar with the LDS religion, this book has the feel that many plot points and phrases and repeatedly cut and paste into the story straight out of Sunday School manuals. One can predict the story and turns of phrase easily, and you could easily replace "the medium" with "the spirit". At least this one didn't include the temple ceremony, which (to his shame) was revealed in one of his other titles. Only Kate's amazing performance kept me going as long as I did.

2 people found this helpful

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  • NanaWillow
  • 08-05-14

The Wretched of Muirwood: Book 1

This was a surprise to me. I read the book and enjoyed it not thinking that it was outstanding so surprise when I found myself thinking about it for several weeks after I read it. I am now almost thru book 2 and still don't know what took my attention but I am hooked on the story. Good characters that come alive without being aware that they took root in my mind. Very good writing, good story line and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys other times and magic.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Mike
  • 14-02-14

Well written YA Sword and Sourcery novel but...

There are lots of good things to say about this book: the world is imagined in great detail and well described, it is well plotted, the main character is likeable, brave and compassionate, and the magic system is novel and well thought through. There are storms and babies abandoned on the Abbey steps, and swords and horses, an evil Sheriff, brave young knights, a corrupt King, a rebellion that turns into a war and of course, the fate of the world hangs upon the bravery of a very young girl.

And yet… I couldn’t give myself up to this book.

As a book for young adults, I understand that some of the darker possibilities have to be toned down a bit, but books like “Divergent” and “Written In Red” or “Anna Dressed in Blood” manage to tap into a real sense of evil without having to get the splatter-movie level. “The Wretched of Muirwood” sells evil short. The bad guys are just that: bad guys. They are corrupt and brutal but they have all the reality of a faceless mob-boss in a Batman comic.

And the good guys are SO good, it’s like biting into an over-sweet apple: it sets your teeth on edge.

But the real source of my lack of comfort with this book is the magic system. In this world, magic comes from accessing The Medium. Good Guys, born into the right bloodlines, do this by surrendering themselves to the will of The Medium, closing their mind to doubt and fear and doing what The Medium tells them to. Bad guys use an amulet-based technology to force the Medium to do what THEY want to do. The price they pay for this is a slow but inexorable poisoning of their souls.

In other words, the Good Guys in this are fanatical Jihadists that The Medium uses as magical suicide bombers while the bad guys are trying to level the playing field between themselves and an elite set of families who refuse to share either knowledge or power. I hate everything about this set of ideas.

The fact that this snagged at me badly enough to reduce my enjoyment of the book is. of course. a tribute to the quality of the writing.

I knew with absolute certainty that, if I was in this world, I would be a bad guy. I just hope I’d make a better job of it.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs. H. L. Rider
  • 30-12-15

Pure treasure and sheer delight

What an amazing package?! Original story set on another world - a magical one at that and yet I felt as if I had always known the concepts, their way of life even their language. Utterly captivating, cleverly written and totally addictive. Such an accomplished performance. A complete, mesmerizing combination.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Aileen Howell
  • 12-08-16

A captivating story which will draw you in

I listened to the sequel Muirwood series first, having the first in the series on a whim. I quickly became hooked and started on this series as soon as I'd finished. Really rich story and characters that you come to genuinely care about.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Regitze
  • 17-05-16

fantasy when it is best

I enjoyed very much to hear this book, it has all you expect of a fantasy book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Joan A
  • 27-04-16

Muirwood book 1

What made the experience of listening to The Wretched of Muirwood the most enjoyable?

This historical story was easy to listen to. I am now moved on to book 2

What other book might you compare The Wretched of Muirwood to, and why?

Game of Thrones.

What does Kate Rudd bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Sometimes her voice is rather monotonous but she adds to the different characters with her different voices. Very good.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-12-14

Shouldn't Have Given Up The Day Job.

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Being written by someone with a talent rather than an agenda.

What was most disappointing about Jeff Wheeler’s story?

There is a strong whiff of religious fervour, I kept expecting the trust in god theme to descend into outright Christian proselytising. Although god isn't mentioned, the author has evidently spent too long watching Star Wars and is stuck with the idea of The Force padawan.

How could the performance have been better?

Having a better story to read.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Wretched of Muirwood?

The middle and the end.

Any additional comments?

Will not be bothering with the others in the series.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Marcus Duffy
  • 15-12-18

Good but slow

An enjoyable listen, really enjoyed the start but felt it slowed down a lot in the middle and end. If your looking for a pleasant story with a medieval setting and a strong interesting protagonist it’s a good listen but not enough battles or magic for me.

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  • eden searl
  • 18-04-17

enthralling

loved it. very good read that drew me in. cant wait for series to continue

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  • Joseph
  • 30-06-15

Well written and well read

Really enjoyed this story, it's a very traditional hero-narrative but no less enjoyable for all that. Beautifully narrated with great feeling.