Thursday, February 29, 2024

Audiobook Tour: The Scales of Balance (A Vengeful Realm, #1) by Tim Facciola

The Scales of Balance
A Vengeful Realm, Book One
Tim Facciola
Audiobook narrated by Landon Soelberg

Epic Fantasy
Publisher: First Torch Books
Publication Date: October 24, 2023
Listening Length: 16 hours, 6 minutes


Peace bought by blood seldom lasts, for vengeance knows no end. The same is true for mortals and gods alike. Decades, centuries, and even eras may pass, but the cycle remains. As war and revolution rise again, Zephyrus finds himself at the center of it all. Chosen by the gods, hailed as a prophet of liberation, and forged as a weapon to break the kingdom and restore balance to the realm, hope rests squarely on his shoulders.

If only he could remember....

Enslaved as a gladiator and thrust into a prince’s game of espionage, Zephyrus has only two clues to help unlock his shattered past: a prophecy foretelling destruction, and a letter to the enemy king, promising peace. Now Zephyrus must survive the dangers of the gladiatorial arena, the cunning fury of the prince’s enemies, and the gods’ torment if he is to find the truth of his identity and fulfill his fate. But to have any hope of breaking the cycle, first he must secure his freedom—and not just from his slavers.

Within this vengeful realm, a queen protecting her kingdom, a prince defending his father, and a gladiator slave haunted by a prophecy each contend for their own brand of freedom. But the gods have an agenda of their own, and they'll use any vessel—patrician, plebeian, or slave—to see it done.

The scales must be balanced. By peace. Or by blood.


"Arena-set action sequences shine ... but even more impressive is the constant political maneuvering, as characters mingle with enemies while plotting against them. There is, of course, plenty of mystery, and Facciola amps up excitement with signs of magic, appearances from gods, and betrayals." 
Kirkus Reviews

"A captivating fantasy with strong characters and even stronger combat scenes ... It is difficult to overstate the storytelling prowess of author Tim Facciola." 
Independent Book Review



4 stars!

A great audiobook performance of THE SCALES OF BALANCE, the first book in the epic A VENGEFUL REALM, a world reminiscent of ancient Rome.

The Scales of Balance is author Tim Faccioli’s first novel in his epic fantasy series, A Vengeful Realm, a story set in a world similar to ancient Rome. The author sets a high bar for himself with an intrigue-laden plot, complex and competing religious systems of deities, and characters with redeeming qualities and principles on both sides of a political conflict. 

With several sympathetic main characters from both sides of the plot’s conflict, I was torn over who I wanted to root for; there were compelling reasons for the differing points of view. However, Zephyrus, the enslaved gladiator, with his loss of memory and desire to always follow his deeply ingrained internal moral compass, was a clear favorite. It was interesting to watch as he pursued his goal to end slavery, an institution propping up much of the elite’s way of life. The naturally mixed results of his efforts to change the opinions of free citizens and enslaved are fascinating, with opponents, even among the other gladiators, wanting to maintain the status quo. He does meet with at least one success, revealed in a great plot twist. 

Most of the conflict concerns the differences in the religions of the people in power and those who have been conquered. There are gods, judges, and the second comings of three figures, the Prophets of the Return – the Wielder, the Harbinger, and the Herald. I had difficulty sorting the two religious systems out and was left feeling unclear about their mythology. The story is intricate and filled with political intrigue. Some characters keep their true affiliations hidden, so there are traitors and turncoats among the family groupings, leading to additional plot twists when these are finally revealed.
I enjoyed the camaraderie of the gladiators in the ludus, even with the internal conflicts and jockeying for supremacy in the arena. The fight sequences are vivid, fast-paced, and brutal, and the author does a great job choreographing the action. These scenes were visceral, invoking all the sights, smells, and rushes of adrenaline possible, and I had no trouble visualizing what was going on at all.
The narrator of the work for the audiobook is Landon Soelberg, and I was so happy with how he voiced the different characters, both male and female, altering pitch or accent. I sometimes forgot I was listening to one single individual reading rather than several. The production quality is great, easy to hear, and well-paced.
I recommend THE SCALES OF BALANCE to readers who enjoy epic fantasy stories that are complex and filled with heroes and villains, magic, and swordplay.


When Tim isn’t writing epic fantasy, he can often be found in his garage-gym or in the mountains where he lives. A virtual fitness professional by trade, he integrates his creative passions into movement, training with maces, clubs, staves, and swords to unlock his inner gladiator. More than writing, reading, gaming, playing music, hiking, and paddle-boarding, Tim loves story. If he’s not working on his own story, he’s helping others develop theirs as an author coach. Living in Arizona with his wife, Colleen, Tim continues writing epic fantasy novels while exploring different storytelling mediums so he can inspire others to hope. To live. And to believe.

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