Applauses all around and a big thank you to both Scott Baron and Gary Bennett for bringing another Dragon Mage series audiobook to the Audible listeners. I recently listened to “Magic Man Charlie” and I can say that our main character has come quite a long way from his previous bad luck experiences. However, this is not saying he is immune to such events in this book as you will soon hear. Magic Man Charlie is the fourth audiobook in this wonderful adventure series consisting of Charlie and his band of counterparts. Nearly all of the previous audiobook’s characters return for more fun, more adventure, more mayhem, and more mystery. We are greeted with dragons, ghouls, aliens, and everything feel super-sized this time around. If you have not already picked up this series of audiobooks, it is a great time to start as there are nearly 40 hours of audio across all available titles; at the time of this review. For those who have completed all four audiobooks, note the author has nine total audiobooks listed along with their titles on Audible; we can only hope more Charlie will be released soon.
Why have I stuck with the Dragon Mage series up to this point? That is a great question. For me, Scott Baron does a wonderful job of telling a story. Many author’s works I have previously reviewed write in a way that simply giving the listener information, a data dump if you may. Yet, Mr. Baron is a true master of storytelling. I could picture him around a campfire with people hanging on his every word. He quickly brings you into his tales with vivid scenes and complex characters all paced in a way that the story flows and makes sense. Writing either comes easy to the author or he spends a large amount of time ensuring things are well thought out and planned beforehand. Add to that a wonderful narrator who is able to bring these characters and their story to life and you have a very interesting and wonderful series of audiobooks that is an exceptional blending of science fiction and fantasy.
Turning to this specific audiobook, the author does a wonderful job of proving some background details for those who may have listened a while ago to the previous books. I always like a prologue or some other way of reminding me about major events that may impact the story I’m listening to, like a TV show recap, and this book delivers. We are presented with quite a different world and some newer characters as the book opens, but do not worry as things seem very familiar. This newness does add some extra mystery to the story going forward. In each of the books there was often a focus on either magic or technology (depending on the world the characters were in). However, this book shows that even on Earth, magic is not something one wants to play with because it is quite dangerous.
The banter and interaction between the characters is very much the same as we have seen in the other book from the series. There is plenty of zings, disses, and pokes going around directed at one another, which is all in good fun and gives a level of humor to the story. Again, I like that the author is able to weave in some emotional elements allowing the listener to better understand the consequences of actions taken by the characters. Such actions not only impact our main group of characters, but in some cases the entire world as well. The characters quickly realize the need to join all their special abilities in an attempt to overcome this new ominous foe. We see the importance of family and friends coming together to overcome adversity. As I listened, this book in the series felt more like a Dr. Who episode with the level of surprise, suspense, and even a bit of horror thrown in for good measure. As with Dr. Who, many times old enemies return in an attempt to finish their job, and for Charlie he understands little of his new nemesis’ powers. Could this be his strongest foe yet?
The audiobook’s narration by Gary Bennett was solid and professional. I have quickly come to recognize Charlie’s voice with his. I hope Mr. Bennett sticks with the whole series as I would find it hard to hear a different Charlie from the voice I have come to enjoy. There were a few very slight audio plugs where it appears some additional information was added afterwards, but these were few and far between. The rest of the audio was clean and clear of any audio artifacts such as swallows, page turns, or other background noises. The narrator does a wonderful job of telling the story and not simply reading the word on the page. Both the solid story writing and storytelling make the series what it has grown to become.
For parents and/or younger readers, the audiobook contains a fair amount of vulgar language. Additionally, there is some light romance included but nothing that would me considered mature. If you have already enjoyed the first few books in the series, there is no change making this audiobook more or less mature.
In summary, need I say much more than you should listen to this audiobook because it continues the adventures of Charlie? The book has all aspects of a great story while being rather unique in its blending of science fiction with fantasy. The narration is what I have come to expect from Mr. Bennett, a smooth voice with plenty of inflection. I would say if you want to get into a new series and do not want to be disappointed, pick up Magic Man Charlie and the other three in the series and enjoy.