Series: Tales of Verania 01
Author: TJ Klune
Narrator: Michael Lesley
Length: 19 hrs, 49 mins
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (10th December 2015)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts
Blurb: Once upon a time, in an alleyway in the slums of the City of Lockes, a young and somewhat lonely boy named Sam Haversford turns a group of teenage douchebags into stone completely by accident.
Of course, this catches the attention of a higher power, and Sam’s pulled from the only world he knows to become an apprentice to the king’s wizard, Morgan of Shadows.
When Sam’s 14, he enters the Dark Woods and returns with Gary, the hornless gay unicorn, and a half-giant named Tiggy, earning the moniker Sam of Wilds.
At 15, Sam learns what love truly is when a new knight arrives at the castle – Knight Ryan Fox-heart, the dreamiest dream to have ever been dreamed.
Naturally, it all goes to hell when Ryan dates the reprehensible Prince Justin, Sam can’t control his magic, a sexually aggressive dragon kidnaps the prince, and the king sends them on an epic quest to save Ryan’s boyfriend, all while Sam falls more in love with someone he can never have.
Or, so he thinks.
Review: So this is going to be an interesting review for me. I absolutely adore TJ Klune. I adore just about every book he writes. I love how he can make a reader laugh and cry within the same book within pages of each other. But mostly I love how he can keep an audience entertained where I am, more often than not, laughing throughout a book, and in the case of audio books I’m often on public transport trying not to be obvious. However, that also applies for when I’m on public transport and trying not to cry.
That being said, there are a few of his books which I’ve not really connected with when I first read them and never went back. The Lightning Struck Heart was one of them. I remember struggling when it first came out, although it had all the hallmarks of something that I would love. I love the book series Temeraire and Eragon, which has some similar themes and feels – mostly dragons, but I also love The Princess Bride which this audio had me thinking as I listened. I’ve also read a review of someone referring to Monty Python too, and to be honest I suppose the line “Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony”. So think that can be a valid comparison too, although I had initially scoffed because I love Monty Python and at that point I was still sceptical of trying this book again.
But being that I am a Klunatic I would see many “Gary and Kevin” references and “Sam and Ryan” references on the group Facebook page – cartoons, lots of unicorns and dragons. Out of respect to TJ, who is in the group, and to all those that love the book, I simply let it be and never said anything because this was just my opinion. However, I eventually decided that I need to give this another try. I just hoped that perhaps when I read it, I simply was not in the right frame of mind – the amount of stress that I was under at that time in terms of health and education I figured that was reason enough to finally give it another go.
I am so happy that I did because quite suddenly I adore this book too and everything about it.
The Lightning Struck Heart is the first book in the saga that is The Tales of Verania, where we meet Sam of the Wilds. Sam has the potential to be an extremely powerful wizard and for some years now he has been the apprentice wizard to the king’s wizard in the City of Lockes. He is a bit of disaster but has the aspiration to become the youngest wizard to have ever passed his trails to graduate from apprentice wizard to full wizard. He never made a good impression on his mentor’s own mentor, and that is a hilarious story that I can’t spoil. For years Sam has been in love with dreamiest of knights in the kingdom, Ryan Foxheart, who is about to be promoted to the leader of the king’s knights. The problem being that Ryan is engaged to Prince Justin. Justin and Sam do not get along but one day Justin will be king and Sam will be his wizard. Sam is also never far from his best friends, a half giant called Tiggy (love Tiggy!) and a sassy talking unicorn who lost his horn, Gary. Honestly, Gary is a total star.
This book is just laying the foundations for the rest of the series, so we are introduced to Sam and all these other characters. Although Sam and Ryan are the main characters, they aren’t the only prominent ones. Tiggy, Gary and Justin take over as well, and towards the end of the book we also meet the charmingly sexually perverse dragon, Kevin, who is also a bit of a wild ride to get to know (pun intended).
Michael Lesley’s is an absolute joy to listen. I really don’t know what I loved more, the story itself or how it was delivered. He gives distinct voices to all the characters, including Sam’s parents, the king and the rest of the gang that I’ve mentioned. He wonderfully articulates the emotion in the characters as they go through their highs and lows. And in the midst of ridiculous hilarity as Sam gets kidnapped and despairs of villains who monologue has sounding absolutely serious down to an art. This is the start of an epic journey and I can’t wait to hear Lesley’s narration as the series goes on.