If you are a fan of the original Dune series (like me), you will probably buy this book no matter what anyone says - the prospect of reading about the Butlerian Jihad and the beginnings of the Guilds will be too much to pass up. However, you will probably grit your teeth through the entire book. I want to be clear that I have read many of Kevin Anderson's other books (notably the Star Wars titles) and enjoyed his work very much. However, although the basic plot outline that he and Brian Herbert have come up with are intriguing, I find their collabarative writing style very off-putting. In a post-book interview Anderson even states that many fans have thanked him for creating a series more readable than the original. Unfortunately, if you liked the original, these books seem like the 'young reader's edition' of a more literary work. The prose has none of the style and granduer of the original writings; it seems to me they take fifty words to say what Frank Herbert said in ten. Plot points are often repeated over and over again, to make absolutely certain you realize that this is how something in the original series originated. All this being said, I view the Dune prequels in the same way I view Clive Cussler novels - I can't stand the writing, but the plotlines are interesting enough that I buy them anyway, and then later swear that I won't do it again. If you are NOT a particular fan of the original novels, then you will probably enjoy the Brian Herbert/Kevin Anderson books a lot more than I did. It's sort of like old Star Wars movies vs. the new Star Wars movies.
As a fan of the Pendergast series and also of Sherlock Holmes, it was a treat to discover that this novel wove both characters together into a single mystery. I was also delighted to find that Corrie Swanson would play a major role in this novel; I appreciate it when a minor character from past works turns up again to play a larger role.
I found the basic premise for the mystery to be intriguing enough; a mixture of history and fiction combined to make a plausible gothic mystery/horror plot. However it did not take long for me to realize this book was going to frustrate me. I have always been annoyed by books/movies/television shows where the plot is driven by the protagonist's own stupidity. Frankly, nearly every dangerous situation in this novel that Corrie Swanson finds herself in is a result of her own temper, bullheadedness or lack of good judgment. I really wanted to root for her as Pendergast's protégé, but after the third or fourth predicament that was entirely her own fault, I began to lose patience. Several times in the book, Corrie berates herself for poor judgment or lack of control, and then several chapters later she's done it again.
I haven't given up on Preston & Child, but I hope the next Pendergast novel with Corrie Swanson in it reveals more growth and character development for her. I don't want her to be a 'mini-Pendergast' but for heaven's sake I want to be able to see the promise in her that Aloysius apparently does!
Unlike many of the reviewers here I have never cared for Scott Brick. If you like him, then you may miss his narration, but I though Jason Culp was fine. I also thought the writing for this book was above average for a Cussler novel - don't get me wrong, I have been a fan for years and I enjoy Cussler's work for his inventiveness, but I have always found his writing style awkward and overdramatic. Maybe it is the influence of Jack Du Brul but I found the prose much more natural-sounding in this book. As for the plot it is typical Cussler, which is not a bad thing.
If you are already a Clive Cussler reader, you know what you're getting here. An interesting premise, a good dose of fictionalized historical events, a predictable cast of characters, stilted dialogue, and Scott Brick. I give it a lukewarm recommendation, it's better than some recent Cussler novels but not his best - although the plot would make a fair movie if anyone was ever able to succesfully film a Cussler novel. If you like Scott Brick (I personally don't) then you'll enjoy his usual narration.
If you are a fan of the Honorverse series, it goes without saying this is a 'Must Read'. It wraps up one portion of the series-long story arc, but pushes you headlong into a new one. Unfortunately it leaves you hanging for the next installment, but that's the way it goes. If you have not read (listened to) the previous Honorverse novels, this is not the place to start - you will be totally lost. Start at the beginning, and you will be glad you did.
My only criticism is the narration. In general it is OK although I would echo some of the other comments about the random use of accents. But what bothered me most was the narrator's voice for Honor Harrington herself - the major character. She came off sounding like a 14-year old teenage girl to me. Yes, she is described as having a soprano voice, and yes, these characters have 'prolonged' lifespans, but I can't take the most famous admiral of the Royal Manticoran Navy seriously when she sounds like an eighth-grader!
My first James Rollins novel and very likely my last...Started out OK but the second half rapidly turned ridiculous...Indiana Jones meets Jurassic Park in a Journey to the Center of the Earth. I wasn't expecting high literature, but even with that preconception I was disappointed. This book turned into one of those stories where it seemed like nearly every plot device was driven forward by someone doing something dumb. I also expected science fiction aspects, but again the scientific liberties drove me crazy as well. Not the worst novel I have ever heard, but if the book's description intrigues you just save time and buy some Jules Verne or Edgar Rice Burroughs, they've done it before and better. However the narrator is pretty decent, although I cringed whenever he tried to emulate a woman's or child's voice.
I gave this book only two stars not because it is that bad a story, but because the Star Wars angle is irrelevant to it. It could just as easily been based in the Star Trek universe or any generic science fiction setting. The narrator is good, the story is OK but nothing groundbreaking, but only the inclusion of two familiar faces makes this a Star Wars novel, and they could have easily been non-canon characters.
In short, this is not your typical Star Wars novel...and I don't necessarily mean that in a good way. It is just a non-exceptional horror novel based in a science fiction setting, with a Lucasfilm licensing agreement. To me, it just felt out-of-place as a Star Wars novel.
If you are already a David Weber/Honor Harrington fan, this is a great book. I will guess that some of the poor reviews for this book were written by people who have not previous read any of the HH series. If you haven't this is NOT the place to start. The Harrington series is long, complex, involved, and wonderful if you start from the first book and work your way through. It is not shoot-'em-up space action, it has politics, intrigue, plotlines that build on previous novels, and action that takes place at 'realistic' stellar distances, not WWII-style dogfighting. If that's not what you're looking for, this is simply not your cup of tea - but that doesn't mean it's not a good book!
If you ARE a Weber fan, this book takes place contemporaneously with the previous two novels (Shadow of Saganami and War of Honor), so the intertwining plot lines can be confusing if you've forgotten what happened in those books. There is a huge setup/cliffhanger at the end for another novel (or novels) which I suspect may 'wrap up' the Harrington series (but I hope not!).
That being said, I do agree with the reviewer who wished the narrator was a woman. A majority of the main characters in this series are females, so the choice of a male narrator doesn't make sense. Previous Harrington novels were voiced by Allyson Johnson and Barbara Rosenblat, who did a fine job. Jay Snyder is a very good narrator, but is not able to pull off a convincing female voice - all the women sounded like falsetto characters from a Monty Python skit to me (sorry Mr. Snyder, I thought you were great otherwise!).
I generally enjoyed this book, it did leave me interested enough to check out the sequels the author has written. I do not care for Scott Brick's voice as a narrator but that is personal preference so I didn't knock down the score for that. The reason I gave only three stars is that it just seemed to run on too long for me, if there is an abridged version available I would recommend that over this full-length version. But the story was very imaginative and answered enough questions at the end while leaving things open for more books to come.
Technical production is good but the story was painful to sit through. Good expanded universe material for the Star Wars fan, but the writing was bad and the stories felt rushed and contrived. I remember playing the computer games these stories were based on, and the games were much more rewarding. I don't expect Star Wars books to be great literature, but a lightweight way to pass the time in the car. This one just had me wishing I'd get to work faster. I know William Deitz can write pretty well, so I suspect the problem here lies in the translation or abridgement to audiobook.
A very fun book to listen to, reminded me a lot of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. If you've read their collaborative novel 'Good News' I think you'll enjoy this. I also enjoyed Fisher Stevens' reading. My only complaint is an abundance of profanity, at times it seemed as though 10% of the dialogue consisted of the 'F' word. I'm not against the use of profanity per se, but it was often used almost to distraction in this book. However, that doesn't prevent me from recommending it, this was one of the most enjoyable books I've listened to in months.
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