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  • Black Sun Rising: Coldfire Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By C. S. Friedman
    • Narrated By R. C. Bray
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    The Coldfire trilogy tells a story of discovery and battle against evil on a planet where a force of nature exists that is capable of reshaping the world in response to psychic stimulus. This terrifying force, much like magic, has the power to prey upon the human mind, drawing forth a person's worst nightmare images or most treasured dreams and indiscriminately giving them life. This is the story of two men. They are absolute enemies who must unite to conquer an evil greater than anything their world has ever known.

    William says: "Tedium Ad Nauseum"
    "Tedium Ad Nauseum"

    Prelude: A lot of people seem to enjoy this book, so you might as well.

    I almost always finish the audiobooks I purchase, and I finished this one. But it was a chore, not a pleasure. The book failed for me on so many levels, but many devolve to a set of unlikable, boring characters with inexplicable motivations.

    Why does Damien, a warrior priest, instigate the quest to recover Ciani's stolen memories and adept skills? The author tells us it is because Damien is in love with Ciani, but it isn't believable. He hardly knows her at the start of the journey, and once the journey begins, he mostly avoids speaking with her. Sure, he obsesses over her in countless internal monologues, but it's an illustration of puppy love, not the type of love that would motivate a long journey by a mature man to confront a dangerous foe.

    Why does Damien hate Tarrant, the powerful dark adept that joins them on the journey? It could be because Tarrant lacks basic human values, but the author roots the conflict in Damien's religious beliefs. This is emphasized in countless internal monologues, and through some of their interactions. The problem is that the tenets of the religion are never presented. So the conflict, which represents a major plot thread, has no understandable basis. In fact, Tarrant is by far the more interesting and likable of the two characters, which makes Damien's hatred seem churlish.

    Did I mention the countless internal monologues, which go nowhere and reveal little? Half way through the book, my greatest wish was to see Damien die a horrible, horrible death. By the end, I was just happy to be finished with him and the rest.

    There are things to like about the book, such as an interesting and novel world. Unfortunately, I found it to be populated by tedious characters, a poorly explained magic system, and contradictions that made my jaw drop.

    37 of 43 people found this review helpful
  • Unwind

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Neal Shusterman
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Conner's parents want to be rid of him because he's a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev's unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family's strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance.

    SoCalBonnie says: "It won me over completely"
    "A fun story emerges from an absurd premise"

    This was a fun book, despite the fact that it relies on a premise that is, frankly, a bit absurd. In no reasonable world do pro-choice and pro-life groups "compromise" by allowing not only retroactive abortions (i.e., the flat-out murder of teenagers), but also the use of teens as body farms. It would be abhorrent to both groups, just as it is expected to be abhorrent to nearly all readers. Because I found the basic premise to be ridiculous, I had a hard time suspending my disbelief, and it thus took me a while to get into the story. But I'm glad that I persisted. The characters and interesting and believable as they respond to real threats. And the horror of the process, which is mostly shrouded in mystery for much of the book, is chillingly illustrated towards the end by actual unwinding of one of the less sympathetic characters. Furthermore, the narration is superb. So despite the rickety premise, I really enjoyed the book, and I'm looking forward to the remaining installments.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 48 mins)
    • By Robert Charles Wilson
    • Narrated By Scott Brick

    In the reign of President Deklan Comstock, a reborn United States is struggling back to prosperity. Over a century after the Efflorescence of Oil, after the Fall of the Cities, after the Plague of Infertility, after the False Tribulation, after the days of the Pious Presidents, the sixty stars and thirteen stripes wave from the plains of Athabaska to the national capital in New York City. In Colorado Springs, the Dominion sees to the nation's spiritual needs.

    William says: "Excellent tragedy with very good narration"
    "Excellent tragedy with very good narration"

    Julian Comstock is an unusual story for science fiction, a 16th century tragedy, presented in a 19th century style, set in the 22nd century. It's also a first person account written by a friend of the title character, which has the consequence of leaving much about Julian, and about the world in which the story is set, unexplained. If you're looking for an uplifting adventure story, or a geeky exposition on post-collapse technology, you might look elsewhere. But if you like a good story, beautifully told, check this one out. Although the stories and characters are quite different, the tone reminded me a bit of The Great Gatsby, particularly Fitzgerald's last line: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." The narration is very well done, though a bit melancholic, but it fits the nature of the tale. Like a previous reviewer, I really didn't want this one to end.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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