This is ~really, really bad~ science fiction, from writers who are Cuisinarts of mixed metaphors and perpetual motion generators of scientific impossibilities. But there are enough scenes of graphic violence, enough different venues, enough subplots (most left unresolved, to be taken up in the inevitable next book) and enough characters (badly drawn though they are) from Frank Herbert's notes to have kept me listening for 23 hours. I'll admit, though, that part of what I enjoyed was the number of times I got to say, "Oh, that is just so stupid," and the number of times I got to laugh at some ridiculously bungled turn of phrase. And I'll admit I'm glad to be done. This book is worse than "House Atreides" or "House Harkonnen" -- and they were both pretty dismal. I suggest victims of this "Jihad" listen to the Arthur C. Clarke collection after this book. The excellent science, superb plotlines, and sound psychology in characterization of which Clarke is such a master will help said victims recover any damaged faith in how inspiring ~good~ science fiction can be.
Excellent descriptive writing, good dialog, convincing and deep characters. Almost a series of vignettes describing the ripples caused over a year by a gentle, generous, haunted main character. There are spot-on portraits of depression, love, self-sacrifice, loss, grief, and extraordinary kindness. What's different and surprising, and in Gold's hands works very well, is that the novel's world is one of gay furries -- anthropomorphic animals -- complete with hot sex scenes. In Gold's other novels, he uses the variety of animal species as a proxy to meditate on racial and sexual prejudice. Here, he exploits the psychic distance "animal" characters give to let his audience study and understand what can be the best in humanity.
The Iron Druid Chronicles are romping stories full of wry humor, fast-paced action, social commentary, and cameos from the stars of many pantheons. With Princess Bride quotes. But it's Luke Daniels' great performance that really makes these books wonderful for me. His pacing, his sense of the story's arc, and his characterizations (particularly a wonderfully-doggy, somewhat slobbery, thoroughly endearing Oberon) carry the Iron Druid Chronicles to a new level of enjoyment.
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