This is the first book in the series of a set of books that has been one of my most favorite since it was first published. I've read them all more than a few times. The basic premise is brilliant, and over the course of the series, you get tantalizing glimpses of what's really going on, while still having a rousing story from the beginning.The characters always felt fully fleshed out - impressive in a setting when who and what they are can change in an instant and often does, yet the author manages to make it all flow along. When I saw that the books were available -finally!!! - in audio, I literally bounced in my chair and couldn't' wait to download and start listening, knowing that this would be hours and hours of listening joy.Then the narrator started talking.
If I give any moments, it will only spoil a surprise - all the best moments are plot twists. But I love the World that Chalker created here - small pockets of "Anchor" where normal natural laws apply, surrounded by a whole World of glittery foglike Flux that those gifted with the ability can literally shape to their will like magic.Many of the main characters actually think it is magic, but we get tantalizing glimpses from the beginning that there is More To The Story, which plays out over the whole series.Whether you're a fan of organized magic or hard science, or even science fiction looks at things like politics, gender roles, political corruption, or just a good yarn, the book is a great start to a fantastic series.
Fully two thirds of the major characters are women. The protagonist for the whole series is a woman, who starts out at around 16. Other "characters" are the mysterious, etherial, but essentially benevolent, if somewhat clueless, "spirits" of the series title.Who chose this narrator? He'd be good with a hard-hitting detective novel or a gritty action adventure, with fast cars, fast women, and lots of guns. But he simply can't do female voices - they just sound stupid when they don't sound like breathy teenage boys. And everyone else sounds like they're in the mob. Including the women.The whole tone of the society should be coming across as the Old West, with periodic visits to The Big City - you find out just why in later books. This is the worst book to narrator mismatch I've ever encountered, and that's saying something.There's a couple of decades of fervent wishing for these books on audio shot all to hell.
I honestly don't know. Seriously, these are among my favorite books of all time, and just being able to listen to them is a joy, but the narration is like nails on a chalkboard and so violently wrong I alternate being thrilled to listen and outraged and incensed at the performance - or more accurately, the horrendous choice of narrator. If I didn't know and love the books, I don't know if the narrator would be so grating, but I also don't know if I'd want to hear any more, or if I would even finish the book.
Give it a try. It's a great story, and one of the most amazing science fiction series of all time. I'm hoping that I come to terms with the narrator and can stomach the rest of the audiobooks.
The last three pages of the book are missing from the recording. Admittedly, not a lot of lost detail, but when you go "What the heck?" it's not you. I pulled out my paper copy to check.
Not a reason to skip the book though. It's a great yarn, and the rollercoaster setup of the first book is in full swing - and hold your horses for the next one. This book does NOT stand alone - you need to hear the whole three-volume novel.
How do you react when it turns out that you aren't who you thought you were? And then it turns out you aren't who you found out you were? And everyone else knew it? And then they were wrong?
But I'd give up my hair for god-like powers, too.
Very well. He's still weak on voices, but since this series is told in the first person and he gets that voice right, it works pretty well. He seems more comfortable in this series than in some others I've heard. He simply can't voice women, though. Got any books set in a monastery he can read?
It would be nearly impossible to do - though it would be a great story if they could. People keep getting their bodies changed, their genders swapped, their height and weight and hair color (or lack thereof) changed - and later, even their species. If they could do this with state of the art digital animation it could be staggering. Until then, yikes, unless you can find great actors all of whom have look-alike brothers and sisters….
This has long been one of my favorite authors, and one of my favorite books from him. It's great to finally have his books on audio.
People should be aware that it's not a trilogy - it's a three volume novel, and while each part is great, they really don't stand alone in any way.
This first volume is a pretty good ride, but it's really just a setup for the rollercoaster of the following two volumes. You get a good taste of what's to come, a good solid plot, some great adventure, and the conceptual groundwork - but buckle your seat belts before you start the second and third volumes.
One thing I love about Chalker is his recurring theme about what makes people who they are - what if your body changed? Your personal history? Your world? Your memories? How much of who you are would you still be? What makes someone even human?
Are you sure the world around you works the way you think it does?
People today will see thematic similarities to movies like Inception and The Thirteenth Floor.
Having a computer programmer and a graphic artist who thought they'd been kidnapped by the government meet the hookah-smoking Caterpillar from Alice In Wonderland was pretty impressive.
Cynthia's transformation was pretty cool, too.
Everything you think you know is wrong….
The narrator really isn't very good at voices. In this case, though, it really doesn't detract much from the book, because the story is told in first person, and he does that character's voice well.
If you are the sort of science fiction reader who doesn't care for technical details and "hard science" - especially not when the book is old enough that we're talking "hard science" like telephone modems and FORTRAN programming - don't worry. There's a bit of it at the start, but pretty soon, it all drops off and even the characters admit they don't know how anything works. Not even reality….
Absolutely. The characters are both interesting and believable. It manages to be a teen coming of age story - of a young gay man, at that - without any of the "oh, dear Lord, who could be that stupid and angsty?" problems that most books like this have.
The narrator is perfect. The delivery is dead on, and the range of both character and emotions he juggles, he does effortlessly.
And even the characters were brilliant - which can be hard with superheroes, when we already know so many. Particularly fun that we kind of sort of know who many of the A-List heroes are, because they are fun-house mirror versions of more popular mainstream heroes we know, but taken apart and rearranged into new combinations, and then seen from the up close perspective of a young hero-in-training.
Would the Justice League be giving autographs and doing book tours? Would the Avengers have PR problems, even after they save the world? Would you train heroes on how and when to save the bystanders - and when not to? What happens when heroes get old or have health issues? Just what does insurance cover? What do you wear to your audition as a super-hero?
Spoilers. Unfair to give any details.
When Thom finds the photos. Why Ruth wore the fancy dress. The poster that Thom knew he couldn't hang in his room. The need for dry cleaning. Dark Hero.
The first major training exercise was pretty awesome. That's one way to take out a villain!
I don't think it's giving anything away to say that in a book about heroes trying to avert the end of the world, and new untrained heroes being forced into serious battles before they are fully trained, let's just say it doesn't always go well for everyone.
The author and the narrator struck just the right notes when it was time to deal with such things.
The loss of the author to a premature death was a loss in so many ways. Not being able to have this be the first of a series of books is only one of them. I hope that someone else is willing and able to pick up the series and go on with it.
If I hadn't so thoroughly enjoyed the whole series, I might have been tempted to condemn Jim Butcher for the turn the series took with the last book. It was great, but where could the series possibly go from there, and how could it continue without losing almost everything that made it wonderful up until then?
So I was very concerned about this book, and I should never have doubted. I can't say it's my favorite in the series - hard to beat making riding a dinosaur through Chicago believable as he did earlier in the series! - but it's darn good and stands on its own as well as making me eager for the next one.
One of the things I loved about the book is that while it has a number of seriously surprising plot twists and new revelations about old situations and characters, none of them felt like cheats - as surprising as they were, I got the feeling that they were things I could have seen coming and were fully supported by what came before - AND make me want to go back and start the series from the beginning to watch the old events with new eyes.
It's hard to share the most memorable moment without unforgivably giving away spoilers, but there are a number of places where the plot suddenly shifts from the direction it was clearly going into a whole and suddenly new direction, one that takes not only the reader, but the characters, by surprise.
James Marsters IS the voice of Harry Dresden. he combines just the right balance of been-there-done-that and golly-gee-wiz, and just the right balance of deep wisdom and klutzy seat-of-the-pants that it's hard to imagine anyone else doing it. Nothing against John Glover in the last book, but it's a joy to have Marsters back.
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