This book had a lot of interesting ideas, but I think some reviewers have misrepresented it significantly.
Firstly -- SPOILER ALERT -- this book does NOT argue against evolution. It doesn't even argue for the existence of an omnipotent or omniscient God. In fact, the aliens specifically believe that "God" is neither all-powerful nor all-knowing. So the book is almost as likely to annoy the religious as the non-religious, assuming that they are paying attention.
I don't agree with all the arguments in the book, but it does discuss interesting questions. For instance -- if there is a God, what is his/her nature? If God did design the universe, then WHY did he/she do so? Why does God allow evil (disease, death, etc.) to occur? And so on. You don't have to believe the same things as the characters in order to enjoy thinking about the questions.
IMHO the narration and tone of the book were excellent -- light enough to not be maudlin, serious enough to feel the suffering, humorous enough to avoid taking itself too seriously. The book isn't perfect, but it is quite an enjoyable listen.
Listen up, people -- this trilogy ain't no fairy tale. Don't be expecting any neat and tidy fairy tale endings.
I am in awe of this entire trilogy. I don't go looking for blood-and-guts books, but I will definitely be reading any Abercrombie stories I can lay hands on. The end is upsetting, annoying, and leaves you dying to know more -- and it's completely consistent in tone and spirit with the rest of the trilogy. Many readers might have been happier with something more conventional, but they are missing the point. These books aren't about neat and tidy characters, nor about neat and tidy lives. These are messy, complex, sometimes tragic stories that don't have those simple endings that we find so reassuring.
If you're looking for engrossing, exciting, and thoughtful writing, the First Law trilogy is a great way to spend some time. If you want sunshine and rainbows and fuzzy puppies, look somewhere else.
As soon as I finished the first book in this trilogy, The Blade Itself, I came to Audible and bought all four of the other books that Abercrombie has published to date. Yes, he really is that good a writer.
There is much more to these books than blood and guts, so don't be turned off by reviews that make it sound as though there's a sword fight on every page. If you like to be immersed in the characters, if you like gritty realistic world-building, if you positively despise Perfect Knight-In-Shining-Armor Heroes, then you'll enjoy these books. Abercrombie and Pacey (the narrator) are a great team, working together to create an engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. I'm in the middle of the third book (The Last Argument of Kings) right now, and I'm going to be sorry when I'm through!
I loved this book. I also hated it. The writing style is lyrical, touching, graceful, beautiful, and generally lovely. The characterizations are engrossing and memorable. The plot, on the other hand, really pissed me off. If you've ever read Hamlet, then you know the basic story behind the book. Hamlet, Gertrude, Claudius, the dead King, even Ophelia are all there. Tragedy, human failing, and pointless death abound. I would love to read more by this author, but I'll try to check out the plots first!
I just finished this book, and I'm happy to say that I loved every minute of it. I'm a big fan of Neil Gaiman, which was a deciding factor for me to buy this. I like Terry Pratchett as well, but his books are too over-the-top silly for me to really care about. Fortunately, this book creates a perfect balance between the two. It is silly, sweet, thoughtful, engrossing, and touching all at the same time. You couldn't make it much better if you tried. Oh, and the narrator also does a great job of creating the characters. As someone else mentioned in a different review, the narrator really should have left more space between the different sections -- but this is a minor quibble. If you enjoy either of these two authors, you'll love this book!
I was thrilled when I saw that a new Miles Vorkosigan book was available, and I downloaded it instantly. And the book did not disappoint!
I gave Cryoburn 4 stars instead of 5 only because the plot is not, to me at least, as engrossing as in some of the other books from the series. But it's still a fun read, and certainly well worth the credit to purchase. For those of you who haven't listened to or read any Miles yet, start with one of the earlier ones -- especially The Vor Game. But for those like me who are already addicts, sit back and enjoy the new installment!
I keep waffling between giving this book 4 stars or 5. If I could give 4 1/2, I would.
This is a engrossing trilogy which raises fascinating questions about the natures of faith, trust, and belief -- all of which are especially emphasized in this last book. And these isses are explored within a framework of exciting action sequences and characters whom the reader can invest in emotionally. These traits make me lean towards that 5 star rating.
I lean back towards 4 stars because of things like the voices speaking in characters' minds -- stolen directly from Robert Jordan's books. And also like Jordan's books, those who have "magical" powers often seem to be able to expand their powers whenever it is convenient for them to do so. Sanderson himself admits to being a rabid fan of Jordan, aside from finishing the WOT series -- so these echoes from Jordan aren't surprising, even if they can be annoying at times.
In other words, this book isn't perfect -- but it's darned good, nonetheless!
I was very pleased with this book. Although I liked parts of Sanderson's first book, Elantris, that book had a lot of flaws. After reading his first entry in the Wheel of Time series (The Gathering Storm), however, I was more impressed with Sanderson's talent -- and I decided to give his other books a try. I'm happy to say that he doesn't disappoint with The Final Empire.
The systems of magic/power used in this book seem quite original, even if a tad clunky. And as with Sanderson's other books, the action scenes are gripping. I also loved descriptive details like the ash falls and the brown plants, which bring the depressed dreary atmosphere of that world to life. The author makes it quite clear that he always intended this to be a series rather than a stand-alone book, but fortunately I actually want to know what happens next.
As for criticisms of the book: I agree with the complaint from other reviewers that the world actually seems quite small in a way. Although we do see some action in places outside of the main city, we seem expected to believe that an entire "Empire" is overthrown by an uprising within one city. Also, there are definite echoes of the Wheel of Time books, which I found a bit irritating at times -- but, considering that Sanderson admits to being a rabid fan of Jordan's books, that is not terribly surprising. And while some listeners may be put off by the narrator's understated style of reading, I find it comfortably familiar from the Jordan books. The recording itself had a serious production flaw, consisting of multiple unexplained pauses throughout the book. Those were quite annoying at times, but had nothing to do with the book itself.
Overall, this is an exciting and enjoyable listen. I'll be downloading the next volume immediately!
I have been addicted to this series from the beginning. Sometimes I had to take a break from all the overwhelming detail that Jordan continually lavished on every single scene (do we really need to know the patterns of seed pearls that are sewn into the sleeve of a woman's dress?), but I always came back for the next installment.
I am happy to say that Sanderson has done a very good job of taking over the reins from Jordan. Sanderson is not as graceful a writer as Jordan....but, on the other hand, he is also not as obsessed with tiny irrelevant details as Jordan was. The pacing of this volume is a big improvement over the last couple of Jordan's books, and it is just as engrossing as any of the other WoT stories. I can't wait for the next one!
I wanted to like this book. It has rich detail and some exciting action. But the personality of the main character was so irritating -- conceited, self-congratulatory, too-perfect-for-words, and so on -- that after the first 8 hours I just couldn't take it any longer. And I don't think I'll be seeking out other books by this author, either!
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