As we come to the second to last audiobook in this wonderful science fiction series, Charlie and his amazing adventures continue to impress and grow on me. I’m not sure if Scott Baron (author) had everything worked out from the start, but each of the books in the series has a great flow and consistency. “Warp Speed Charlie” is the eighth book in “The Dragon Mage” series available in audiobook format on Audible. The series has carried me across vast distances and allowed me to encounter some rather unique inhabitants and places along the way, I like the way Scott tells a story. While on this journey, it has been good to have the same narrator along with solid audio production performed by Gary Bennett. What has kept me coming back has been the detailed writing and exceptional narration. I do not recall mentioning in my previous reviews, but I have enjoyed the cover artwork quite a bit. The artwork often reveals something key to the story in the given audiobook, however you often do not fully understand its meaning until you finish listening. It is fun to look back and recall the stories through their artwork alone. I am excited to have taken the journey thus far, while I also do not look forward to the series soon concluding.
This audiobook in the series drops the reader right into the action as it resumed from the previous one. Charlie and his band of rebels continues to try to overthrow a very powerful vesla whose magic capabilities have vastly outgrown the others. Charlie understand that he will be unable to destroy a foe of this magnitude only by himself and his magical dragon. Even in this audiobook, we have his growing band of counterparts along with the assistance of Daisy (a second series by the author), her sister and her many AI/ship friends. I found the ability for the AIs to replicate (like giving birth) an added interest as the story progressed. The team realizes that this battle will not be an easy one, so there are many sessions that include planning and strategizing. Everyone knows that they would not be able to go on a full offensive attack and succeed. We see that to solve their problem, it will require combining both magic and technology; which the author has blended well over the many stories. Those who are not fully trained magic users must depend on stored magic in their metal bands. We also see the return of the council members along with some good backstory on their purpose.
The author continues to throw in pop culture references, often spoken by Charlie, such as from the movie “Top Gun”. I often enjoyed when Charlie would claim a well-known phrase as his own because the aliens would not know the quotes true source. We see less of this in later books. What I find most interesting is the additional backstory on a few of the characters (Wampus) and the strong relationships between a few of them. Bob and Hunza (sp?) were ones I liked learning more about along with the Grazenhunds. We begin to see the importance of the Balamar waters and that the power from it may be required to help defeat this power foe. The author lets us in on a secret type of fight club where people go to prove their power and claim prizes. On top of this there was a fair amount of technology used to assist Charlie and the team. For me, I found the tracking ammunition rounds a bit of fascinating tech. Place a GPS type of tracker into the rounds fired by a bullet and you will later be able to find the ship you were targeting.
Garry Bennett, as with all of the previous audiobooks in the series, did an exceptional job producing this audiobook. Again, his ability to keep track of all the many characters and personalities impresses me. He is able to keep the characters personalities across books which is quite remarkable. Some of this may be the writing, but I have to give credit to the narrator here. There were no noticeable audio issues (background noise, swallows, page turns, etc.) and only a few small plugs where the audio was patched. As with the other books, these issues are nothing that would prevent me from listening or becoming overly distracted. For me, Mr. Bennett will be the voice of Charlie for years to come.
For parents and younger listeners, the audiobook contains vulgar language, some graphic violence and other mature topics which may not be appropriate for younger listeners. The author could have released a child-friendly version and I bet it would take off in the schools.
In summary, as we are on the edge of this series being closed out, I would recommend listeners of science fiction give this series a try. There is a fair amount of action and adventure. The wonderful storytelling and narration have made this series what it has become to this point. The characters, although powerful, still have a feeling of being fragile. No one character seems like they will be able to pull of their ultimate goal. I know we will get the answers to these in the last and final book in the series which is soon to be released on Audible. I cannot wait.