Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
Thoroughly enjoyable and complete engaging. Correia's pacing is perfect, not breakneck but never sagging. His plotting is sufficiently complex to keep surprising you but it never becomes ponderous convoluted or overloaded with back story.
I am more than a little zombie averse, and I am a pretty hard sell for modern urban fantasy so it took a lot of convincing raves from excellent reviewers for me to take a chance on this one. I'm very glad I did. This is a fantasy genre writer at the top of his game read by a superb narrator who never missed an inflection, mangled a pronunciation or botched a meaning with a misread sentence. It is rare that genre writing breaks through and transcends its genre to become deeply satisfying literature (Ray Bradbury, would be a prime example). That does not happen here, so four and a half stars, but I had such a great time listening to Hard Magic, that I feel a little miserly withholding that final half star.
So unless you are unalterably opposed to very high quality cheap thrills, this is a ride you might want to get on.
It is hard to know how to characterize this and so many of Pratchett's other books in order to convey the desired impression which is, "If you have not already tried them, you really should read one right now." If a review mentions the goblins and trolls and werewolves and vampires, and the Leprechauns and, oh yes, the witches, it risks giving entirely the wrong impression. These have nothing in common with Tolkien and the least of them is far more human than your standard fantasy hero. If one refers to Pratchett as a brilliant humorist with a needle sharp wit, it suggests a self-conscious wordsmith who is too clever by half. Referring to his ability to crystallize the essence of human folly with deftly drawn plots which prick all our narrowest prejudices and suppositions with unerring accuracy suggests a tiresome agenda dressed up in borrowed whimsy.
Perhaps it is simplest just to say that his books are an accumulated treasure trove of wisdom and delight. This particular one is not the best place to begin exploring since it depends upon some familiarity with its forebears for complete appreciation. This is, after all, book 40. But you needn't go back to book one. I would suggest Going Postal, which will get you nicely on track for the characters in Raising Steam. My personal favorite is Monstrous Regiment, but a quick survey of the reviews for the books Audible offers should give you an idea of other starting places. And since both the narrators available are terrific, you can't go wrong there either.
One caveat. It may take you more than a chapter to get into the swing of things in Disk World. In fact, one of the hallmarks of these books is that their meaning and relevance accumulates, moving from whimsy to wisdom as each story progresses. This particular one starts a little more slowly than most and depends somewhat more on its predecessors, but by the end I was entirely delighted. Enjoy!
First of all, there are a few narrator/author matches forged in listening paradise, and this is one of them. Together they transport the listener in every sense of the word.
To my mind, Pratchett's true genius lies in his ability to communicate real wisdom about life and society in a lighthearted, whimsical and often hilarious yarn which includes an array of fantastical situations and personages. He often (perhaps even always) deals with gender issues, but if you want his concentrated thinking on the topic, read the absolutely delightful Monstrous Regiment. If you are thinking a lot about the structure of our financial system, you should pick up Going Postal or Making Money. And in Snuff, Pratchett does racial marginalization to a fare-thee-well using the too-often-reviled goblin. As always you will smile out loud all the way through and from time to time be convulsed with surprised laughter.
Finally, Pratchett writes wonderfully conceived and realized plots. They fit together like a perfectly designed itinerary with never a gap or skip and plenty of unexpected but entirely sensible twists and turns. This is not a writer who ever succumbs to the predictable. You can just relax and enjoy the trip, knowing that both the journey and the destination will be worth the fare.