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Sci-Fi & Fantasy

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Robert

Robert Yamhill, OR, United States Member Since 2009

Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.

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  • "My favorite book this year."

    Overall
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    Story

    When I read reviewers write, “the best book I have ever read,” I thought yeah right! ‘must not have read many books. Well, I have read a fair bit myself and this is definitely one of the best written books I have ever read. I believe it is a book that one can read and reread and enjoy over and over and find something new in each reading of it. Not to be redundant, it is also one of the most fun and funniest I have ever read. It is a scholarly and even literary work, if you will. And yet, at the same time, the book is totally enchanting, witty and charming.

    The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table arose in the early Middle Ages, when England was just beginning to come under the influence of Christianity. When anyone retells the story, the author brings his own perspective to the tale of chivalry. Here T.H. White often appears to use the education of the young king Wart by Merlyn to educate the reader. While not in so many words, or maybe it is that: Merlin is a time-traveler. Not so much in the context of some science fiction novel but in his memory. Merlin is aware of past, present and the future. Certainly the author is aware of those times and uses those temporal events to tell his story. The book is in many ways a critique of mid-twentieth-century British culture. At first, things seem somewhat anachronistic but then we see that the narrator regularly references events and people in modern times to help tell his tale even more effectively.

    Both T.H. White’s The Once and Future King and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings were written in the shadow of World War II, and both reflect that context to some extent:

    “No. There is one fairly good reason for fighting - and that is, if the other man starts it. You see, wars are a wickedness, perhaps the greatest wickedness of a wicked species. They are so wicked that they must not be allowed. When you can be perfectly certain that the other man started them, then is the time when you might have a sort of duty to stop him.” (Merlyn)

    Not only is T.H. White’s The Once and Future King full of anachronistic references to places and events of modern times, but it also plays fast and loose with time within the framework of the novel itself. Given the references to the death of Uther Pendragon in 1216 and the appearance of Thomas Malory at the end of the story, Arthur would have lived from 1201-1485. In effect, what White does is telescope almost three hundred years of English history and social development into the backdrop of a single narrative.

    The book is long. But multiple versions of the story of King Arthur are considered within its covers so how short can it be? No, this is the best of several interpretations of the legend and it is not too long. While much of the book’s ending dwells on allegory, philosophy and social commentary, it is done with and eloquence and prose that is hard to compare with.

    One of the young reviewers of this book that I found tried to figure out the audience for for whom the author intended and concluded there were many. I agree:

    For children and young adults-
    “I have been thinking ... about Might and Right. I don’t think things ought to be done because you are able to do them. I think they should be done because you ought to do them.” (Arthur). One of the central themes of the book is War: Right and Might.

    On one level, both Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and T.H.
    White’s The Once and Future King are children’s stories, yet both novels contain very
    serious social commentary clearly intended for adults. Who could argue though that the social satire found in these novels detracts too much from the ability of children to enjoy them. Could a child appreciate all that is contained within TOaFK? Certainly not. However, there are many stories in this legend and many that target the child in all of us. One need not read this entire book though I am sure a lust will always remain to do so.

    No reviewer could possibly do justice to this book. How about some more of the author’s own words:

    On Wisdom-
    “The best thing for being sad ... is to learn something. That is the only thing that never
    fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then - to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.” (Merlyn)

    This is a story about great compassion-
    “If I were made a knight ..., I should insist on doing my vigil by myself, a Hob does with
    his hawks, and I should pray to God to let me encounter all the evil in the world in my own person, so that if I conquered there would be none left, and, if I were defeated, I would be the one to suffer for it.” (Wart)

    The author writes a great deal about the evolution of man-
    “Here, all you embryos, come here with your beaks and whatnots to look upon Our first
    Man. He is the only one who has guessed Our riddle, out of all of you, and We have great pleasure in conferring upon him the Order of Dominion over the Fowls of the Air, and the Beasts of the Earth, and the Fishes of the Sea. Now let the rest of you get along, and love and multiply, for it is time to knock off for the weekend. As for you, Man, you will be a naked tool all your life, though a user of tools. You will look like an embryo till they bury you, but all the others will be embryos before your might. Eternally undeveloped, you will always remain potential in Our image, able to see some of Our sorrows and to feel some of Our joys. We are partly sorry for you, Man, but partly hopeful.” (Badger)

    Much is written about human morality-
    “Morals ... are a form of insanity. Give me a moral man who insists on doing the right
    things all the time, and I will show you a tangle which an angel couldn’t get out of.” (Lionel)

    This title actually includes Books 1-5 of T.H. White’s magnum opus. It is not so much about world-building per se though there is enough of that. The book is more about us as humans and our nature... our intellectual, psychological, social and even political nature. The book is philosophical, satirical with even a little theology thrown in. Not too much; just the right amount. If it is action that ye seek, knockdown, drag out fighting, best look elsewhere. This is one more about relationships and different kinds of heroes.

    This is brilliant storytelling brilliantly read and performed. The narration by Neville Jason is as good as it gets. I could not recommend a book more highly.

    More

    The Once and Future King

    • UNABRIDGED (33 hrs and 3 mins)
    • By T. H. White
    • Narrated By Neville Jason
    Overall
    (1258)
    Performance
    (1050)
    Story
    (1046)

    The complete "box set" of T. H. White's epic fantasy novel of the Arthurian legend. The novel is made up of five parts: "The Sword in the Stone", "The Witch in the Wood", "The Ill-Made Knight", "The Candle in the Wind", and "The Book of Merlyn".

    Bookoholics Anon says: "Fabulous reading, epic story and a new chapter!"
  • "A Classic"

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    While Ursula K. Le Guin wrote several novels about the fantasy world of Earthsea, A Wizard of Earthsea appears to be the first of the main cycle by that name. I found it difficult to pin down whether the series is written for children and/or adults. I concluded that while there are a number of philosophical themes that adults could appreciate, the target audience was probably that of a younger age. Let’s say YAs.

    Further, on the subject of age, this is basically the coming of age story of a young mage named Ged who is drawn to wizardry and develops into just that as the story unfolds. There’s much in the way of magic, spells and personal discovery along the way. However, as Ged learns, all of the power and might of of a wizard comes with a price. Wizardry is not for the faint-hearted nor is its magic lightly wielded by the ignorant or arrogant. Much of this is taught Ged by Ogion his primary mentor along with his own life’s little (and not so little) foibles in and around Earthsea. Does all this sound a bit familiar?

    The monster of the story we learn is… uh, not so fast. That would be a major spoiler. And I believe the book is worth reading to discover that as well as the other things Ged learns along his way through apprenticeship and personal discovery. The book is very straight forward. That appears to be Le Guin’s style. After recently reading a bunch of China Mielville prior to Earthsea, the latter was a refreshingly, relaxing read. However, we probably should not be fooled by her simplicity. Contained within the pages are a depth and breath that can be easily missed if we’re not paying attention. What can I say; it’s obviously a classic and who could not recommend that.

    More

    A Wizard of Earthsea: The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By Ursula K. Le Guin
    • Narrated By Rob Inglis
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (646)
    Performance
    (486)
    Story
    (499)

    When Sparrowhawk casts a spell that saves his village from destruction at the hands of the invading Kargs, Ogion, the Mage of Re Albi, encourages the boy to apprentice himself in the art of wizardry. So, at the age of 13, the boy receives his true name - Ged - and gives himself over to the gentle tutelage of the Master Ogion. But impatient with the slowness of his studies and infatuated with glory, Ged embarks for the Island of Roke, where the highest arts of wizardry are taught.

    Finance Guy says: "Elegant & unique fantasy, deliciously performed"
  1. The Once and Future King
  2. A Wizard of Earthsea: The...
  3. .

A Peek at Belle's Bookshelf

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COLUMBIA, MD, United States 3 REVIEWS / 84 ratings Member Since 2009 0 Followers / Following 0
 
Belle's greatest hits:
  • Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase, Book 1

    "Another great book from Jonathan Stroud!"

    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What did you like best about this story?

    Great story - I liked everything about it. As per his usual style, Mr. Stroud mesmerizes us with his excellent story development, original plot, lovable characters, and sly witticism.


    What didn’t you like about Miranda Raison’s performance?

    I really liked her voice and diction however, it is clear that she simply "read" the page instead of understanding the material in it. She comes across as having no sense of humor. There were so many jokes and tongue-in-cheek moments that she absolutely flew through the book and consequently got ruined. I purchase the hard copy so I can read it for myself. She really rains down on the otherwise hilarious Stroud-esque passages. I think she could narrate any of the Russian classics or those gothic romance novels really well. But anything with any kind of humor in it is lost on this lady.........Publishers: Change the narrator for the next book - PRETTY PLEASE??


Deborah

Deborah Cedar Grove, TN United States 10-12-12 Member Since 2001
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  • "YA?"

    15 of 15 helpful votes

    For those uninformed as I was...YA book, means Young Adult Book. Well Duh! Can you tell I don't text either?
    I am not a young adult (55 yrs old), but I really enjoyed this book.
    Do you want to be a Ranger or be the over glorified Warrior with the potential of being Knighted? At first look, most boys would choose the Knight.
    This book is about each group. How the boys train, mature and learn life's lessons.
    In the end we realize how they differ, but are each equally as important and respectable.
    Actions speak louder than words (Titles).
    No sex, no romance, but kept me interested the through out the whole book. I look forward to listening to the next in the series.

    More

    The Ruins of Gorlan: Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By John Flanagan
    • Narrated By John Keating
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
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    (757)
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    Will is an orphan and a ward of the castle. He hopes to someday become a great hero. But he is a small boy, and only the biggest and toughest are selected as warriors. He has other talents though, and they catch the attention of the mysterious Ranger Halt. Will soon masters stealth and accuracy with the bow.

    Deborah says: "YA?"

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    When Percy Jackson receives an urgent distress call from his friend Grover, he immediately prepares for battle. He knows he'll need his powerful demigod allies, Annabeth and Thalia, at his side; his trusty bronze sword, Riptide; and...a ride from his mom.

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    After saving Olympus from the evil Titan lord, Kronos, Percy and friends have rebuilt their beloved Camp Half-Blood, where the next generation of demigods must now prepare for a chilling prophecy of their own.... In a brand-new series from blockbuster best-selling author Rick Riordan, fans return to the world of Camp Half-Blood. Here, a new group of heroes will inherit a quest. But to survive the journey, they'll need the help of some familiar demigods.

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    The complete "box set" of T. H. White's epic fantasy novel of the Arthurian legend. The novel is made up of five parts: "The Sword in the Stone", "The Witch in the Wood", "The Ill-Made Knight", "The Candle in the Wind", and "The Book of Merlyn".

    Bookoholics Anon says: "Fabulous reading, epic story and a new chapter!"
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    From the award-winning author Kate DiCamillo comes the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbours a simple, impossible wish. These three characters embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon.

  • Zom-B Clans (






UNABRIDGED) by Darren Shan Narrated by Emma Galvin

    Zom-B Clans

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Darren Shan
    • Narrated By Emma Galvin
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    B's first mission with the Angels - sentient, do-gooder zombies - went horribly wrong when vicious members of the Ku Klux Klan attacked New Kirkham, a stronghold of precious human survivors. B is not about to let the racist thugs persecute innocent people, but while saving the town, one of B's oldest friends is kidnapped by the Klan. The Angels are prepared to do what it takes to save him, but B will have to make some very hard decisions about loyalties - to old friends, to the Angels, and to new families and old.

  • A Grimm Warning: The Land of Stories, Book 3 (






UNABRIDGED) by Chris Colfer Narrated by Chris Colfer

    A Grimm Warning: The Land of Stories, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 34 mins)
    • By Chris Colfer
    • Narrated By Chris Colfer
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    Conner Bailey thinks his fairy-tale adventures are behind him - until he discovers a mysterious clue left by the famous Brothers Grimm. With help from his classmate Bree and the outlandish Mother Goose, Conner sets off on a mission across Europe to crack a two-hundred-year-old code. Meanwhile, Alex Bailey is training to become the next Fairy Godmother...but her attempts at granting wishes never go as planned. Will she ever be truly ready to lead the Fairy Council?

  • Luck Uglies (






UNABRIDGED) by Paul Durham Narrated by Avita Jay

    Luck Uglies

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Paul Durham
    • Narrated By Avita Jay
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    Luck Uglies was a name whispered around the docks and darkest taverns, places where men played fast and loose with the law…Rye has grown up hearing the legend of the Luck Uglies - notorious deadly outlaws who once stalked the streets. Now they have faded to ghosts and rumours and Rye isn't sure they ever existed. Then on the night of the Black Moon, strange cries are heard from the forest Beyond the Shale, and dark shapes glimpsed in the shadows.

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  • BZRK: Apocalypse (






UNABRIDGED) by Michael Grant Narrated by Nico Evers-Swindell

    BZRK: Apocalypse

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Michael Grant
    • Narrated By Nico Evers-Swindell
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    Noah and Sadie have seen death, and it holds no fear for them. Madness does, though. And losing each other. But they will not sit back, helpless witnesses to an invisible apocalypse. The world is being destroyed from the inside out. It's time to take up the fight once more, in the streets and in the nano. And they'll give everything they have to stop the Armstrong Twins. But are the Twins the ultimate enemy? Nobody has ever known the identity of Lear, the shadowy leader of BZRK.

  • The Time and Space of Uncle Albert (






UNABRIDGED) by Russell Stannard Narrated by Philip Franks

    The Time and Space of Uncle Albert

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Russell Stannard
    • Narrated By Philip Franks
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    Book One in the best-selling 'Uncle Albert' science/adventure series. Famous scientist Uncle Albert and his niece Gedanken enter the dangerous and unknown world of a thought bubble. Their mission: to unlock the deep mysteries of time and space... In this action-packed adventure story, discover why you can't break the ultimate speed barrier and find out how to become older than your mother, how to put on weight without getting fat, and how to live forever without even knowing it.

  • Ways to See a Ghost (






UNABRIDGED) by Emily Diamand Narrated by Joe Coen

    Ways to See a Ghost

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Emily Diamand
    • Narrated By Joe Coen
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    The ghost put his hands together in prayer or pleading, his fingernails withered and cracked. ‘We need you, Isis Dunbar’. Isis is the daughter of a fake psychic. But unlike her mum, Isis really can see ghosts. When a terrifying creature escapes from the dark places that even spirits fear to go, Isis realises that it puts everyone she cares about in grave danger. Will her powers be enough to protect them? And who will protect Isis?