Good Story - Whiffed the Ending
The (Sort of) Dark Mage, book 1 of the Waldo Rabbit series by Nelson Chereta had me, right up until the ending, which it completely whiffed.
Not a "Game of Thrones season 8" level whiff, but enough of one to have me seriously considering if I should bother continuing with the series at all. First off, the book just ends. No big build-up with a massive payoff, no stakes being raised, nothing resolved with a next adventure on the horizon. It just ends mid-story. Looking ahead at book two which is four hours shorter, it seems like the two have been arbitrarily split.
Second of all... and some spoilers here so uncover at your own peril. Gronk, who obviously keen on Waldo from the start, going from a big, dumb ogre voice to the cringe-worthy stereotype of an effeminate, over-the-top, gay voice. Published originally in 2013, this was cringe then, even more so now.
I'm knocking off two stars because of those two reasons. Up until that though, the book had me listening at every free moment. The world-building is excellent, with a lot of thought obviously put into the backstory of the world to be called up (presumably) in later books.
Waldo, our bumbling hero, is the heir to Corpselover dynasty. Hare...er, heir by default as all of his brothers and sisters have been killed in their attempts to earn the spot. Either dying in combat, or at the hands of their own, evil relatives. Nonetheless, Waldo Corpselover is forced out of the castle and into a quest to prove he is worthy.
He is not expected to survive. What follows is a fun romp through the world where he picks up a familiar to help him on his journey. He's still mostly useless, but with her help, at least he has a chance.
Gary Furlong does a good job with the narration. Each character is given a distinct voice and he delivers the beats of the novel well. Waldo's lines are often dry with a touch of his "innocent" lack of how life actually is, and Gary does this well.
Ultimately, I'm on the fence with this one. I liked the story until it abruptly stopped... ugh, and that final part just destroyed it. I honestly don't know if I'll continue with the series.