This entry was cross-posted to the Book Guys blog.
This was one of the early successful podcast novels, released originally in audio form in 2006 through Podiobooks.com. The audio was a nominee for a 2006 Parsec Award, and the book was released in print in 2009. Christiana Ellis recently released a re-mastered version of the audio, with higher-quality sound recording and music than the "classic" version. It is this re-mastered version that I listened to.
The story starts with a beheading, and the first few minutes are actually the most violent in the book. But this scene also has a measure of humor to it, and it is this lighthearted aspect that carries throughout the entire work. Nina Kimberly, only daughter of the late Marcus the Merciless, has been promised as a wife to the idiotic king of the backwater land of Langia. But Nina wants adventure, she wants to meet a real hero and go on an epic quest, and (mostly) she doesn't want to marry the king.
She realizes she can't just kill the king without risking further bloodshed, so she seeks out alternatives. Determining that she needs the help of a wizard to kill the king in a way that will allow her to lead the people as is her rightful due, she sets out -- and the idiot king joins her. Their company grows, as a dragon and a con man join them. But someone in the group is a betrayer, and Nina has to discover who it is and overcome this plot to succeed in her quest.
Even when the plot of the novel turns more serious and the stakes are raised, Ellis manages to keep the comic tone. And for an author, she does a very good job narrating the work. Ellis is able to bring slightly different intonations to the various characters, which is a skill many authors do not possess. The overall production values (narration, music, sound quality) were very high in the re-mastered audio version.