When I first heard about Rogue Angel: Destiny being a graphic audio book I, was skeptical. I have been listing to audio books for over five years now. I average between 30 and 50 per year and I know what works and what doesn't. When I saw the tag line "A Movie In Your Mind", I mean really, who do these guys think they are. It’s an audio book! A movie in your mind, get real!
Boy was I ever wrong. Simply put, this was probably the best-produced audio book I have ever listened to. Period! That is after listing to well over 2-300 audio books. In some ways this is akin to listing to some of the old radio dramas from the golden age of radio. Now if you think of the old radio shows as being like "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century", well this is like "Star Wars" in comparison.
In Rogue Angel: Destiny, you have a narrator who is basically reading the main storyline. When dialog comes in you have actors filling the different voices. This much I have heard in other audio books and many times I have shied away from them because, in my opinion, it becomes a distraction. Here it really enhances the story.
The real power and effect come from the sound effects and background music that encompasses the story and gives it its movie-like quality. It is not the cheesy sound-effects that you may be use to in the old radio shows; rather these are professional quality sounds that you would hear in a movie. When someone falls, gets kicked, or is shot, it really feels like you are there. When the goat gets its neck sliced in the ritual, you hear the screams. (I do not, however, believe that any goats were injured in any way in making this book.)
Now to the actual story; Rogue Angel: Destiny is about Annja Creed, a 20-something archaeologist and explorer who works for a show called "Chasing Histories Monsters" to earn money to do more serious archaeology work. Her fascination with the myths and mysteries of the world lead her in search of the Beast of Gevaudan, a legendary wolf-like creature that killed between 60 and 100 people in the 18th century.
What she discovers is an artifact that will seal her destiny; a brotherhood of monks who are willing to murder to protect their secret; a black market occultist who wants to find millions of dollars in centuries-old blood money and a couple of shadowy figures – she is not sure if they want to help or kill her.
I try to pull myself back and separate the story from the performance, so the latter is not influencing the former. From that stance, I think that this is a good story. Obviously this is the first in a series and, to me, for a series to be good you have to have a minimum of two things; characters that you like, and a story line that both makes sense and is interesting.
Rogue Angel: Destiny has both interesting and likable characters in Annja, Roux and Garin. I assume (and hope) that they will be regulars, since their lives are intertwined together. And the story line is both interesting and informative. It contains historical data, interesting settings and cultural characteristics that give the story more realism.
A couple of minor points with the production were that two or three times when the background music and the sounds were a little louder than they should have been. You could still hear the narrator, but it took you out of the moment a little bit.
One other point, this story is rated for mature content. They make it very obvious on both the front and the back of the packaging. At least in this story, it is for all the violence and graphic gore that takes place. I commend the company for pointing this out in advance.
The quality of the story and performance are the reason that I will be coming back for the next Rogue Angel, due out in March of 2007. I will also be checking out some of their other series as well. If you want you can down load of MP3 excerpt, or purchase the GraphicAudio Book from their on-line store. The story comes three ways; standard CD, MP3 CD (the version I reviewed) and downloadable WMA with digital rights management.