Hard question to answer. I have been eagerly awaiting this series on Audible because I enjoy epic fantasies more than any other genre. I have been buying each one of these book for my Dad after having read positive reviews, but I honestly do not have the time to read them. So I have chosen to simply listen to them every chance I get: early in the morning while fixing breakfast and while driving to work. I have found that I very much enjoy the performances of many of the narrators and they add a whole new dimension to these books.
Once I started to listen to Steven Erikson's work, I have found a few things: One, he has the most astounding dominion of the English language I have ever witnessed. He has a way of saying things in such a singular, insightful manner that you find yourself identifying with thoughts described in a way that you know EXACTLY what they mean and can remember feeling the same way but could have never put it in such perfect words. Two, it requires you undivided attention. The nature of these characters is that they all seem to be quite clever and intelligent. Dialogue is often oblique and nothing is said in a straightforward manner. I do not mean that the author has a baroque style. Rather, you have to read between the lines and make conclusions yourself about what is happening. Miss two sentences and you can be totally lost. This is impressive in a way, but also frustrating because, for me at least, it was often difficult to follow the story. I am not kidding when I say that I may have to listen to this (and the other books I have read from this author) three times or more. Three, although he has the most admirable dominion of the language, there is something wrong with the pacing of this and his other books that I have listened to. They do not follow the conventional buildup and climax that you find in other stories. This results in a book that may be exceptional in many ways, but not exciting.
I have also listened to "Gardens of the Moon" and "Forge of Darkness". I have found them all so far to suffer from the same problem with pacing, the lack of a satisfying climax. And yet they are all amazing stories that are complex and, above all, told in a truly exquisite and superior prose. Will I listen to any other of his books? Most likely. But after listening to "Deadhouse Gates", I definitely need a break and will listen to something that is not as heavy.
I don't think I can compare it to anything else. The longer epic fantasies that I have listened to or read, such as "Wheel of Time", "Sword of Truth", "Belgariad/Malloreon" are not as ambitious nor as majestically told. Those other series, however, are definitely easier to digest and great in their own way.
The narrator is great. I firmly believe that any good narrator adds another dimension to the story being read. He is good choosing voices for each character and complementing their personality with the delivery of the dialogue.
Impossible. I found myself needing to listen to this book in relatively short bites.
I have listened to all of Sanderson's books except the Alcatrazz series. It seems you can't go wrong getting anything from him. Not as stunningly original as Mistborn or Elantris, but still excellent and unique in it's own right. I look forward to following The Stormlight Archive for years to come.
This is, I think, one of the strongest books in the Sword of Truth series and I highly recommend it. I truly enjoyed listening to Sam Tsoutsouvas narrating Wizard's First Rule, and as I moved on to Stone of Tears I couldn't help picturing Buzz Lightyear telling the story.
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