Houston, TX, United States | Member Since 2008
This book takes almost seventeen hours to listen to. It seemed much more like ten. Usually that is a result of nonstop action or riveting suspense. Instead Nesbo does it with bravura writing, by inexorably drawing us into a complex world, a fascinating character, a perplexing mystery, and making it almost impossible to look away. His pace is slow and steady, and the momentum toward confrontation does not begin to build until quite late in the book, but along the way the author constructs a web of history and relationship along with a structure of clues which keeps us fully engaged with Harry Hole and his obsession with finding the truth.
If I were going to compare Nesbo's writing with that of another master, it would be John LeCarre. He knows how to make seemingly nondescript details and low key encounters accumulate until they have terrific power and significance. The translator deserves major credit for this edition as well since the use of language is transparent and always effective.
Finally, someone found the perfect reader for the world Nesbo has created. Robin Sachs' smoky, matter of fact, world weary rendering of the story could not be improved upon. I felt as though I were listening to the story across a beer stained table in the back of a very local hangout in Oslo.
This book is the third in the series. I will definitely be going back to the beginning and enjoying the process of getting to know Harry Hole from the start.
Reynolds always constructs extraordinarily intricate and ultimately logical worlds, and his central characters are usually fully drawn and complex as well. In this instance he nailed the world building but presented us with a leading character who is limp and unsatisfying. Always the thoroughgoing altruist and nearly terminally naive, he wanders along, captive to the plot throughout, functioning primarily as a conduit for information between the various factions with whom he interacts. He is so passive that he is hard to believe as a survivor. It is not the poor sap's fault since the author keeps him restricted and controlled throughout the entire book, but looking back on it I realize just how sick of him I was by the end.
There were secondary characters who were more dynamic and with whom readers would happily throw in their lot if given a chance, but they never emerged from their supporting roles. Did someone say there will be a series? If so, perhaps the interesting world and the situation in which we are left hanging at the end of the book will provide a stage for giving one or more of the other personae the room to strike out on their own and give us someone to relate to and invest in. That could be worth a credit.
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!
It is pretty difficult to forgive the self-destructive, often self-righteous subject of this powerful character study, at least until you have reached the promising denouement. Burke never soft pedals the negative aspects of Hackberry's alcoholism and self-hatred. What he does do is expose its roots in the Korean War back story, making us relive with Holland a soul destroying history in a visceral and horrifying series of memories. He does, nonetheless, have redeeming qualities even at his lowest points--a love for horses and a compassion for the helpless which he finds inescapable even while he is single-mindedly gunning the engine in his flight to his own annihilation. And a burning hatred for hypocrisy. In fact, it is this last which fuels his descent as his lingering sense of guilt concerning his final "failure" under North Korean torturers makes it impossible for him to wear a mask of respectability in the here and now.
This is not an easy book to read, and different auditors have obviously come away with widely divergent reactions. As for me, while I don't think this is Burke's finest work (that is a very high bar), I was able to engage deeply with Hack even while desperately wanting to slap him up side the head and lock him in his room. Even at his most repugnant, there was something there worth loving, and most of us have experienced that enough times in our lives to be able to relate. In addition, Burke's brilliantly poetic use of landscape and atmosphere is already in evidence in this early work. He also does a nice job of playing powerfully on the themes of hypocrisy and real cowardice which run throughout his later novels. By the last page, I was very satisfied and even moved.
I would not, however, recommend this as a first read in the Burke oeuvre. I would suggest you get to know the later Hackberry and come back to this as very interesting back story.
There is nothing heavy or terribly intricate about Brust's creation--just a diverting tale set in a well constructed world with characters it is easy to cheer for. Often it is predictable, but it never lags or confuses. Sometimes inconsequential fluff is a wonderful change of pace when it is served with sufficient style and good humor and a sizable helping of clever repartee.
I am coming to this series late, but now that I have found it, I know where to go when I just need a lighthearted fantasy adventure/mystery as a break from a grueling foray into the likes of Brandon Sanderson or Cormac McCarthy. Satisfying in very different ways.
There is a wealth of fascinating detail here, all placed in illuminating context and presented with the skill of a fine story teller. The book is nicely balanced with a sweeping overview of an extraordinary era emerging coherently from the particulars of valor, struggle, horror, betrayal, avarice, pride, politics, sea water and blood--so much blood.
There is a good deal in the narrative which resonates with the struggles we currently face, but Crowley refrains from larding the story with superfluous modern interpretation. In fact, the book presents a picture which is much more focused on the motivations and idiosyncrasies of the individuals driving the conflict than on any great clash of competing philosophies or world views. Best of all, he includes riveting first hand accounts featuring scores of lesser players. A fine job of showing both the forest and the trees in living color.
If you would like to like history but usually can't quite manage it, this may be the book for you!
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.
I suspect that Sanderson's story ideas always begin with the creation of a complex and fascinating new system of magic, for it is in this above all that he excels. Mistborn is the prime example, of course, but now he is dazzling us with an entirely new magical structure with the Stormlight Archives, and just to pass the time and keep his mind limber perhaps, he has added Steelheart for good measure. I do admire the way he begins with a simple, basic premise and then develops it ad infinitum, exploring all the imaginative ways the system can be exploited and stretched by his characters.
And, speaking of characters, Sanderson is no slouch in that department either. His two principal protagonists in this series, Kaladin and Shallan, are a nice mixture of powerful and vulnerable, both as combatants in the epic struggle and as human beings trying to negotiate the traps and dead ends of their own personal natures. Both are sometimes exhausting in their intensity and emotional obtuseness, but we care about them and when they soar they take us with them in exhilaration. And happily they are surrounded by at least a dozen other believable principal characters who elicit chuckles and sneers and sometimes wide eyed surprise from us just as the dynamic duo are becoming a bit tiresome in their single-mindedness.
Sanderson's incredibly complex plots which delve more and more deeply into his fantasy historical construct are, for me, a trifle tedious at times. They are amazing in their imaginative breadth and depth, but I just cannot care quite that much about the serpentine development playing out over the eons of his creative antiquity no matter how beautifully constructed they may be. I also have a small problem with his penchant for resurrecting characters who should be well and truly dead. Nor does he use language nearly so artfully as Abercombie or Guy Gavriel Kay. Nonetheless, he puts more than enough wonder and delight on my plate to keep me coming back again and again without complaining too much about the occasional over-seasoned brussels sprout. I look forward to the next installment with high anticipation.
I usually do not write reviews of audible books which have already been very well reviewed by other listeners and/or when the press clips are insightful and accurate. I am making an exception with The Road because it occurs to me that there may be some listeners who will read this who might otherwise have missed this book. So I encourage you to check out the lead reviews. No use repeating.
I would only add two things. First, many reviewers suggest that the center of this book is a meditation on the love between father and son which McCarthy brings to aching life for us. I think the real core of this book is about even deeper matters. If you have no reasonable hope for the future, why continue? This is not a question which is only faced by wanderers on a bleak, post-apocalyptic landscape. Why take the next step? Which may, of course, bring us back to the aforementioned love.
Second, it seemed to me that the author copped out a little in the last five minutes. I will not elaborate, not wanting to risk spoilers. In any event, I am more than willing to forgive him and still stand in awed respect for this extraordinary piece of writing. It is as good as all those excellent reviews suggest. It is also the only book I can remember ever reading which authentically frightened me. Perhaps that is because my first grandchild is on the way.
Half an hour into the book I thought I was in for a tedious slog. Oskar, the more than precocious little boy who is the main character, wore me out fairly quickly with his wide-eyed naivete and remarkable imagination. This seemed like a writer who was trying way too hard. Gradually it became clear that it was Oskar who was trying way too hard, and the pain and confusion which were driving him were brought artfully into focus by some really brilliant writing. Still, Oskar's story by itself would not have sustained the book and, for me, the growing beauty of the narrative began to blossom with the entrance of his grandfather and grandmother, each relating his/her own journey in a continuous, Rashomon-like shift of perspectives. As things progress, these three points of view begin to construct a kind of hall of mirrors which finally can only be resolved by accepting all of them as true.
For me the book finally became poetry, not of word, though the use of language is often exquisite, but of narrative detail. Some readers have had problems with the far fetched elements of the story--a man who loses spoken language one word at a time until the only word he has left is "I" and then loses that as well. A man who, each day after the death of his wife, drives a new nail into the bed he built for her and shared with her, until the thing weighs so much that he must construct a column to support the floor beneath it--and cannot say why he does it. These are brilliant and profound poetic images which accumulate through the course of the book and resist a one for one interpretation of "meaning." They mean what they do-to-you as you encounter them and let them under your skin. They are improbable and entirely true.
Most reviewers seem most taken by Oskar but, perhaps because I am older than the average, I was most deeply affected by the grandmother and grandfather. I found their narratives deeply moving and evocative of the struggle we so often have with intimacy and being known by those closest to us. I recommend the book most enthusiastically to those who have loved or almost loved for many years and are still struggling to get it right.
Incidentally, the book actually has very little to do with 9/11 but a great deal to do with loss, healing and our amazing capacity to rediscover things we think we have lost forever. It lifted my spirits and made my heart swell.
The real focus of this book is New York City at the turn of the 20th century. A ghastly crime and the ensuing investigation, trial and denouement serve as the occasion for the narrative, but the book uses these central events to immerse the reader in a very wide ranging evocation of the time and place. As melodramatic as many of the events and details may be, in the end this is a piece of well researched cultural history which gives one the sense of being set down in the middle of the chaos, the sights, the sounds, the smells and the swirling energy at the vortex of American turn-of-the-century dynamism.
This New York has spawned a gaggle of newspapers engaged in a cutthroat struggle for survival. It is a rich, bubbling brew of newly arrived European immigrants finding their place in a brash society which has just gotten a grip on its confidence and is changing at the speed of avaricious inspiration. It is a time when trial reports are transmitted to anxious newsrooms by both telephone and carrier pigeon. Scientific "experts" are finding their way onto witness stands, and American jurisprudence is celebrating its first superstar criminal attorneys. In short, this is an extremely interesting city!
If you are looking for a gripping true crime investigation, penetrating character studies or a probing examination of the newspaper wars, you will be somewhat disappointed. If you would be delighted to be delivered by time-machine to a fascinating city where a diver in a newfangled helmet is searching the bottom of the river for a severed head and where the grisly aspects of the recently introduced and quite inefficient electric chair are being hotly debated, this may be your cup of tea.
I found William Dufris' narration to be a bit labored and overwrought, perhaps in keeping with the lurid nature of some of the content. Still I would recommend the book to anyone who will enjoy a colorful and detailed glimpse of a moment in history.
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