Episodes: 15 episodes with a few bonuses
Format: Podcast Novel
Running Time: 7.7 Hours
AuthorNovel Website: http://www.mattselznick.com/
Podcast Feed: http://www.podiobooks.com/title/brave-men-run/feed/
Print Status: Published by Swarm press
Theme Song: “In a perfect World” I can’t tell you who it was by because  I just can’t make it out when the author says it. I enjoyed the song and hope to find out.
One sentence synopsis:  One different child’s life is forever changed when a man with powers announces his existence and declares himself and everyone like him to be Sovereign.

Brave Men Run was a Podiobook recommended to me by Aron right before my trip to Metropolis earlier this year.  I listened to it the first time as a way to pass time on that drive.  Did Aron recommend a quality podiobook or does he have horribly taste.  Read on to find out….

Brave Men Run seems like it would be a prequel to a much larger story.  During the course of this novel one very powerful individual makes his abilities known to the world and declares that people like him are Sovereign and under his protection.  There is quite a bit of political drama going on around that announcement, but it is really the setting and backdrop to the story being told.  This story is about how that announcement affects one child who looks different and has abilities.  The larger setting feels like it has been developed and the author continually refers to this as “A novel of the Sovereign Age” indicating that there is more that simply does not yet exist.  Since this novel was published in 2008 and there has been no word on another one I suspect we will not see more of the larger story.  There is a short story published on his website though.

The story told in Brave Men Run is something of a Teen Drama meets superpowers tale.  The main character is fairly melodramatic and makes common teen mistakes.  He falls in love, lashes out at his mother, and generally goes about everything the hard way as you would expect a teenager to do.  My biggest complaint about the story though deals with his relationship.  It simply does not feel real to me.  His girlfriend doesn’t seem to have any reason to fall for him so quickly and the stated reason might get her past revulsion at his appearance, but wouldn’t create this kind of reactions.  She comes off as a fantasy fulfillment and not a truly well rounded character to me.  Every teen boy wants something like this to happen and I have to wonder how old the author was when he wrote this.  It doesn’t feel like he understands how relationships actually work.  The perfect girl who is obsessively devoted to you and can put up with ANYTHING including having her own life threatened without being bothered by any of it just does not exist.  As I listened to the book I kept waiting for her big secret to come out and expected her to be spying on him for someone as a way to explain her actions.  This big secret doesn’t seem to exist though.

The story itself is interesting and compelling.  I enjoyed watching a character very removed from the big events of the world having to deal with their repercussions.  The main character had man character growth moments and was a new person by the end of the novel, but it was an organic growth that went down multiple paths before reaching it’s destination.  There were interesting twists, but for the most part even they were fairly predictable.  This did not stop the story from being interesting.  I would liken it to a Hollywood popcorn flick.  Not overly deep and you know how it will end right away, but it’s a fun trip to get there and for me the trip takes longer than the destination so it is far more important.  As for the characters, well with the exception of the girlfriend they all act in ways that make sense for them as they are established.  I should state that I didn’t dislike the character of the girlfriend.  She simply came off as wish fulfillment and not a full character to me and I don’t think that was the intent.  As a teenager a person like her would have definitely fulfilled a few of my wishes.

So in closing Aron did not lead me wrong with his recommendation.  I did enjoy the story and was able to finish it in one trip due to the short length of it.  I would love to see more from this writer, but feel that he needs to focus on writing his female characters a bit more believable.  He has excellent sound quality, an entertaining story, and his work has been published.  Those things immediately put him one step above many of the podiobooks I have listened to and make me at least a little jealous of him.