Audio Book Reviews “Kingdom Keepers II-V”

kingdomkeep2Author: Ridley Pearson
Performed by: Christopher Lane, MacLeod Andrews
Publisher: Brilliance Audio on MP3-CD
Edition: Unabridged
Discs: 6, 10, 9, 11
Release Date: August 26, 2008, April 6, 2010; April 5, 2011; April 3, 2012
Running Time: 7 hours, 12 hours, 10 hours, 13 hours

Overall Series Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Flashback to November 2005 in Walt Disney World,  I am on my honeymoon with my beautiful newly wed wife. We are strolling around the Magic Kingdom shops and I come across a rather interesting book titled “Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark”.  And that was my first introduction to the world of Ridley Pearson.  I believe I finished the book before I even got home from the honeymoon and hungry for more.  I also went around and spreaded the word to my entire Disney family, who is also now hardcore fans of the series and Pearson’s work. “Kingdom Keepers II:” Disney at Dawn” arrived in 2008.  The book was a fantastic continuation of the series of Finn and his friends.  With the series on a hot streak the third installment as was up next “Kingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadow” only two years later in 2010. Since the third book Ridley has been releasing a new episode every year with “Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play” in 2011 and “Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game” in 2012. This series not only gets better with each book it also reveals all new mysteries, adventures and villains that our heroes and their DHI’s have to face. A must have for an Disney fan!

The first “Kingdom Keepers” on audio book was performed by Gary Littman and the second book was performed Christopher Lane.  Both books were well performed don’t get me wrong
but he third book was is performed by MacLeod Andrews and easily became my favorite of all the performers. In fact MacLeod also has continued with the series straight through the latest fifth book in the series “Shell Game”. I like the fact of keeping it uniform especially when it comes to audio books.  When you listen to MacLeod you will understand what I mean.  He is very animated and really gives a voice to these characters. His performance also feels very theatrical, which I believe stems from his background of working on numerous stagekk3-audio production in New York. I believe that in order to deliver a convincing and also entertaining job for a book reading that you need to be able to get behind as well as into the characters. As the series also progress within the third book through the fifth book, it also get more epic and ambitious. This is where MacLeod really steps up and delivers the action, the comedy and the drama all mixed together very well.

Brilliance Audio has been behind this series since the first book and have delivered impressive productions throughout the series. “Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn” in book form is 384 pages, while the audio book is about 7 hours long. I have always loved the second book and Lane goes a good job with his performance. “Kingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadow” in book form clocked in a 560 pages, which is a nice length especially of young adult book. The book is performed by Macleod in just over 12 hours over 10 compact discs.  The book edition of “Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play” closes out with 448 pages.  The audio book runs 10 hours over 9 compact discs. Lastly, “Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game” totals up 560 pages in the book edition, while the audio book runs the longest at 13 hours and 17 minutes and over 11 compact disc. Here are the packaging dimensions for each audio book: “Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn”, “Kingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadow” and “Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play” are both: 7 x 5 x 1.5 inches, while “Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game” comes in a smaller and more concise packaging 5.5 x 5 x 0.5 inches. I have to say that I prefer the slimmer packaging since it stands better without the added Styrofoam. Also inside each of the three boxes are the same content, which are the varied number of discs in white paper sleeves, so you are not loosing anything due to the smaller packaging. Am I allowed to say “Brilliant job Brilliance Audio!” 😉 Can’t wait till the audio book of “Kingdom Keepers VI: Dark Passage” coming Fall 2013.

“Kingdom Keepers II: Disney at Dawn” Official Premise: It’s supposed to be a happy day at the Magic Kingdom – the teenage holographic hosts have returned. But things go very wrong when a sudden lightning storm disrupts the celebration, and Amanda’s mysterious sister, Jez, disappears. The only clue is the sighting of a wild monkey in the Magic Kingdom during the storm. The mystery deepens as Finn is contacted by Wayne, an old man he hasn’t heard from in months. Wayne tells Finn that there’s trouble at the Animal Kingdom: the evil Overtakers have gained control of one of the computer servers that will be used to operate Daylight Holographic Imaging there. That means if any of the holographic hosts fall asleep, they will go into comas –kk4-audio permanently. Filled with action and brimming with the same meticulous detail as The Kingdom Keepers: Disney After Dark (also available in audio from Brilliance Audio), this second audiobook in the series – Disney at Dawn – is the result of hands-on research behind the scenes at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Younger and older listeners alike will get a glimpse into a second Disney kingdom. The wild rides have only just begun, and the clock is ticking. How long can the teens keep themselves awake in their quest to find their friend – and what happens if they fail?

“Kingdom Keepers III: Disney in Shadow” Official Premise: When Disney Imagineers installed hologram guides for the Magic Kingdom using teenage models, they had no idea the technology might backfire. But backfire it did: some nights when the kids go to sleep, they wake up in one of the Disney parks as holograms. The five teens have twice thwarted evil plots masterminded by Maleficent; but now Finn, Philby, Willa, Charlene, and Maybeck have another problem: Wayne, their mentor and head Imagineer, has mysteriously gone missing. Concerned that Wayne has been abducted by the Overtakers, the kids pick up a major clue from a close friend, Jess, whose dreams (nightmares, really) often accurately predict the future. This time, the clues from Jess’s dream lead the kids into Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Each clue seems tied to the last, and with the stakes growing ever higher, what starts out as a puzzle ends up as a fight for their lives. As they quest for a sword, take rides on Soarin’ and Maelstrom, have life-and-death encounters with a giant snake, and attempt to stop Maleficent, the Kingdom Keepers not only begin to decipher deeper meanings in the clues, but discover new truths about themselves and their ever-growing friendships.

“Kingdom Keepers IV: Power Play” Official Premise: Just when life for the five Kingdom Keepers is beginning to settle down, an intriguing video suddenly appears on Philby’s computer at school. It’s a call to action: it seems that the Overtakers, a group of Disney villains, are plotting to rescue their two captured leaders, who were hidden away by Disney Imagineers after a recent violent encounter at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. A staged attack by some mysterious new Overtakers at DisneyQuest confirms the Keepers’ fears. One of their own, Charlene, has been behaving oddly. Has she tired of her role as a Keeper, or is there something more sinister at play? When she’s caught sneaking into Epcot as a hologram — which is strictly against the group’s rules — Finn and Philby know the Keepers must act. The Keepers have so many puzzles to solve: has the impossible occurred? Have the Overtakers created their own holograms? Have they found a way to “jump” from the Virtual Maintenance Network onto the Internet, and if so, what does that mean for the safety of the Parks, and the spread andkk5-audio reach of the Overtakers? Are they recruiting an army of kids for their evil purposes? Trouble looms as the Kingdom Keepers struggle to differentiate friend from foe and battle new and increasingly dangerous enemies, all the while knowing they may be nearing a point of no escape.

“Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game” Official Premise: As the five Kingdom Keepers enter high school, everything is about to change. The Maintenance Base that controls all four parks in Disney World is under attack by the Overtakers, a group determined to change Disney forever. Relationships between the Keepers are no longer as simple as they once were. In fact, nothing is as simple as it once was. An after-hours visit to Typhoon Lagoon is a game changer. The Keepers lose one of their most valuable supporters. But there’s work to do. . . . The Disney Dream leaves Port Canaveral on a historic cruise to Los Angeles with a special treat in store for guests: the Disney Host Interactive teenage guides are on board. Finn, Maybeck, Charlene, Willa, and Philby join celebrity guests as the DHI experience moves to one of the most advanced cruise ships in the world. But all is not right belowdecks. Strange things are happening. Unexplained phenomena. Only the Kingdom Keepers know the truth behind their invitation to be in attendance: nearly every Disney villain is aboard the ship, including Maleficent. The Overtakers have infiltrated the cast and crew. And no one knows what they have planned. The Dream sets sail filled with enthusiastic guests and crew. But not for long. Maleficent takes over a video screen and warns the guests of trouble to come. With the ship arriving at the beaches of Castaway Cay—its first of many exotic ports of call—the Kingdom Keepers are under attack; back home the Base is threatened and about to fall. The Overtakers have expanded in ways never foreseen, and it’s clear they intend to use this element of surprise to accomplish what has eluded them so far: victory. But not if Finn Whitman and friends have anything to say about it.

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