The idea behind this alternate history book was very interesting and all the performances of the narrators are fine.. However, Card's writing just is not that gripping. I never felt the urge to continue listening for long periods in order to find out what was next.
I have read or listened to most of Orson Scott Card's body of work and am a big fan. I will continue giving future books a chance. This book was unfortunate. I am Latina but not a Christian. This book is somewhat insulting and reminds me of growing up in the South with Holy Roller classmates. It's theme is that the natives of Central and South America were uncivilized barbarian victims of the Spanish conquistadors. I don't disagree that the European colonization of Latin America was awful and that the natives were truly victims without, as Jared Diamond explains, "Guns, Germs, and Steel." However, Card imagines that the only way that they could become technologically advanced and, worse, ethical, is by being converting to Christianity. Christianity is lauded and attributed with creating a Utopia. I have read the Bible and have a passion for history, and the descriptions of non-violence and other ethical practices Card pretends are inherent in Christianity are hypocritical. If Card didn't spend so much time praising the religion, though, the novel would still have been boring. It lacks Card's usual imagination and the plot is bland without any surprising twists or deeper philosophical explorations.
Even though I'm not a sci-fi reader, I decided to check this book on recommendation from a family member after I told her I'd enjoyed OSC's Enchantment. There are plenty of readers critical of the book, but I thought it was unique and engrossing. Yes, there is a ton of discussion amongst characters. But I didn't find the discussion circular as one reviewer says. It serves to make you feel like you're sitting right there in Pastwatch trying to think through the situation with the characters.
The historical research that went into this book is phenomenal and I think any fan of historical novels would find this intriguing even though it's a story that mixes history and a hypothetical alternate history. OSC delves into one of the major questions that a good historian asks: why? Why did people do what they did? And also: who were they as people, rather than judging them in a black-and-white way. The way he handles religion is also fascinating--both Christians and atheists alike will be disturbed in a good way and challenged in their own assumptions. OSC also delves into the question that any human being should ask when looking at history: how did the actions and choices of the past affect the present, and thus, how do our actions and choices of the present affect the future? As someone who has long struggled with this portion of history and how it affected us--both directly for indigenous people and indirectly for the rest of the world, I found the story refreshing and the ending so satisfying--even if it's so far from our true history. It at least made me think a lot about the world and life in a big-picture way, and that is a wonderful thing to get from a book.
The variety of narrators kept things fresh, even if some of the accents were funky (one narrator narrates Colon's Italian accent similarly to how he narrated the Ukranian-American father in Enchantment). They definitely keep you connected even in the middle of a scene with long, complicated dialog.
Highly recommended for anyone who appreciates a thoughtful, well-written story with unique characters and an intelligent plot.
I like the point about slavery being better than human sacrifice. However, a population of hard working immigrants who valued freedom is what made America an innovative bastion of capitalism. Slavery couldn't have ended without capitalism to take its place. I doubt the immigrants would have come to America if they knew the land was occupied. Therefore Capitalism would have stalled and slavery would have returned.
Listening to this book was a memorable experience, and ranks in my top-15. Not the absolute best, but definately up there.
It provides believeable insight into our past, and personalizes events that shifted society as we know it. The concept sets a stage to deliver interesting concepts, wrapped up with an empotional story.
Gabrielle de Cuir
Makes back to the future seem amature
There are very few books I have read that I'll read a second time. This is one of them. When I recommend audiobooks for people, I recommend this book as the first to listen to. Now only if my second favorite book was available in audiobook form (The Proteus Operation by James P. Hogan).
Orson Scott Card is incapable of writing a bad book, and Stefan Rudnicki is incapable of rendering a bad naaration. Pastwatch is a masterpiece even by their lofty standards.
The historical research alone which went into the writing of the book is breathtaking.
Card has crafted one of the most compelling and brilliant plots I have ever read.
Don't start listening at night if you expect to get to work the next day.
Spoiler alert! Since one problem is with the plot, I may be giving twists away.
I don't usually like alternate history, since the past is immutable. But I'm an ardent fan of the Ender and Bean novels about the future. Orson Scott Card thinks deeply about all he writes, and I was interested in his take on the Europeans' arrival in the Americas.
Problem is, we get multiple alternate histories in Pastwatch. The brilliant scientists in the story have evidently never heard of the Law of Unintended Consequences.
I willingly suspend disbelief for most novels. This one contains too many improbabilities for me and perhaps for the like-minded.
The narration is also inconsistent. I'd listen to Stefan Rudnicki read anything, but some of the other narrators are not very expressive.
But I'd have held on if not for the improbabilities.
Always like this author but the blend of history, socialogy, anthropology, and sci-fi was great! What the world might have been like if only a few little things had gone differently.
This book comes very close to being as great a story as his best book Ender's Game; however, it is totally not related to the Ender's series. It happens in our far distant future with people having equipment that allows them to watch the past. With the invention of the next generation of equipment, stronger and more sensitive to viewing the past - someone in the past in a drug induced dream becomes aware that the future is watching them. This really starts the storyline moving.