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Joshua

www.newimperium.org

mcleansville, NC, United States | Member Since 2013

365
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 110 reviews
  • 121 ratings
  • 294 titles in library
  • 11 purchased in 2015
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74

  • The Last Man: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Vince Flynn
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3947)
    Performance
    (3448)
    Story
    (3427)

    The four dead guards didn’t concern Mitch Rapp as much as the absence of the man they’d been paid to protect. Joe Rickman wasn’t just another foot soldier. For the last eight years Rickman had ran the CIA’s clandestine operations in Afghanistan. It was a murky job that involved working with virtually every disreputable figure in the Islamic Republic. More than a quarter billion dollars in cash had passed through Rickman’s hands during his tenure as the master of black ops and no one with a shred of sense wanted to know the details of how that money had been spent.

    K says: "Couldn't be better...except"
    "Another Mitch Rapp Tour de Force!"
    Overall
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    Story

    I pre-ordered this book thinking that it was a sequel to "Kill Shot" - another book about Mitch Rapp's past. Instead, I was surprised to find that this book actually follows "Pursuit of Honor" chronologically, so make sure you are caught up there first. This book takes place in the Present Day and Vince Flynn brings the story into the forefront of today's issues as the US continues to work on its withdrawal from Afghanistan.

    "The Last Man" has a lot of new and welcome twists and turns - some old faces return, and some unexpected things happen to Rapp. I won't spoil it for you though; you'll just have to listen and find out!

    23 of 25 people found this review helpful
  • The Three-Body Problem

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Cixin Liu
    • Narrated By Luke Daniels
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (230)
    Performance
    (207)
    Story
    (207)

    Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion.

    Josh says: "They create a computer using a 30 million man Army"
    "Opens the Door to a New World of SF/F"
    Overall
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    Story

    This is one of the most original concepts for a science fiction story I've read in a long time. "The Three Body Problem" definitely has that bit of foreignness that hits you now and again and feels "different", like watching Japanese anime for the first time did many years ago. Part of that is probably due to the translation, which was excellent. Also I found the names distinguishable enough for the most part, so that I was really able to breeze through this book.

    The book grabbed me at several stages, most of them involving the strange video game for which the book is named. At times it felt a lot like a Neal Stephenson book in its high-concept strangeness. Other parts I felt were not so strongly done, including the latter half in which time jumps forward a lot and instead of narrative we get long pieces of history and sometimes just long reports that reminded me of books such as World War Z and Robopocalypse. I felt that the resolution was just not quite as satisfying and although it sets things up for a sequel, there isn't really a major sense of urgency about it all.

    I feel that a lot of the praise around this book falls into hyperbole; it definitely isn't a match for Dune, as one of the summaries says. But still, this is a very solid novel that does have that element of strangeness, and definitely raises my opinion of the author and of Chinese SF in general. I hope this book opens up the door for more books to make their way into the English SF/Fantasy industry.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Forge of Darkness: Kharkanas Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (32 hrs)
    • By Steven Erikson
    • Narrated By Daniel Philpott
    Overall
    (205)
    Performance
    (183)
    Story
    (187)

    Forge of Darkness takes listeners to Kurald Galain, the warren of Darkness, and tells of a realm whose fate plays a crucial role in the fall of the Malazan Empire and surrounds one of the Malazan world’s most fascinating and powerful characters, Anomander Rake. It’s a conflicted time in Kurald Galain, where Mother Dark reigns above the Tiste people. But this ancient land was once home to many a power...and even death is not quite eternal. The commoners’ great hero, Vatha Urusander, longs for ascendency and Mother Dark’s hand in marriage, but she has taken another Consort, Lord Draconus.

    Michael says: "A Precursor Epic Fantasy - A Rewarding Beginning!"
    "Not What the Fans Were Hoping For"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    What a shame. This book is a missed opportunity to be a new starting point for new readers of the series. Instead, this feels more unapproachable than Gardens of the Moon by far. There are vast sections of boringness, with near endless thought monologue involving minor characters that we've never met and frankly don't care about. If you were hoping for character viewpoints of your favorites, such as Anomander Rake, Silchas Ruin, Caladan Brood, and Draconis, you'll be disappointed.

    As the name implies, this book is dark. It's full of sex, grotesque sexual references, rape and brutal violence and gore. Nearly every new scene gets around to the topic of sex, in which it is crudely discussed, then either had, implied, or forced. This gets old really fast, for me.

    The problems with this book are the same ones in all of this series. There are several things that stand out in this series that are totally unrealistic. First, every soldier is a philosopher. We get pages and pages of philosophical imaginings by small nobodies and line soldiers. Doesn't anyone have a more simplistic view of life in this world? It's a big mistake to make so many characters so similar.

    Secondly, I think it's a mistake to make all of the elder gods, and the ascendants and ancient characters from the Malazan series, to all be contemporaries in this book. I feel that it cheapens the history when we're basically told that the Malazan series was just the same characters from this book getting back together to make war upon each other again. There is very little revealed about any of them, making it feel lacking in terms of payoff.

    Finally, all the women in this series are voraciously oversexed. The women in the Malazan series have more sexual appetite then the men in most fantasy series, and in fact they actually act more like men instead of real women. Those who do not, who are in the least bit clean and unsullied, are brutally raped and murdered as a general rule. In fact, there is so much atrocity, child slaughter, and rape-fests in this book I wonder if his was some kind if catharsis for Erikson's dark side, where he could envision the most terrible things happening that he dared write down on a page.

    Even if you're a fan of the main series, I don't recommend this book. There are certain cases where the image in your kind of what happened long ago will always be better than the book/movie depicting those events. This is one of those cases.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Heir of Novron: Riyria Revelations, Volume 3

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Michael J. Sullivan
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4648)
    Performance
    (4263)
    Story
    (4282)

    On the holiday of Wintertide, the New Empire plans to burn the Witch of Melengar and force the Empress into a marriage of their own design. But they didn’t account for Royce and Hadrian finally locating the Heir of Novron—or the pair’s desire to wreak havoc on the New Empire’s carefully crafted scheme.

    Ron says: "Spectacular fantasy series"
    "Concluding the Series"
    Overall
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    My Review of Part 1 (Wintertide): - 2 Stars

    This book at least was not that bad up until near the end, except for the fact that the characters just never act realistically at all. It's a great example of an author forcing characters to meet a predetermined storyline. As a result the reader is frustrated again and again because just like in a bad horror flick, the characters do the most stupid thing and blatantly ignore an obvious solution to their problem. Most annoying was the lady Amelia, as she spends pages and pages of self-depreciating monologue. Every character who has ever played a role in the series has to suddenly make an appearance (usually dying).

    It's the tacked-on ending that ruins this book. It is so forced and straight out of a bad Hollywood cliche that I was laughing during it. Its a classic example of forcing something into a mold, and not properly setting up your plot right. By that point I literally just gave up and hoped that everyone would die. They're so incompetent that it feels like a waste of my time to listen. Furthermore, I lost all sense of care and sympathy for Royce. His whole life has been a tragic waste and it seems they help the villains more than the good guys.


    My Review of Part 2 (Percepliquis) - 3 Stars

    In a stark change, the main characters are suddenly very powerful in this book. It is a big departure from the previous books, and the sudden jump from a single kingdom/empire's politics to a much larger scale, with enemies we basically didn't even know existed before this book, was jarring.

    This is pretty much a straight-up adventure quest book. A band of heroes goes out to an ancient ruin to find an artifact that can save the world. Meanwhile the bad guys' armies are bearing down on the last human stronghold ala "Return of the King". Basically it follows the classic fantasy stereotype, but it pulls it off fairly well and that actually makes it better than the previous couple of volumes.

    That said, there is WAY too much revelation at the end of this book; in my opinion things should have been more spaced out. From a surprise main bad guy, to bad guys who turn out not to be, to revealed identities, and more secrets let out than one can hope to keep up with, it's just a massive infodump at the end and makes the series feel extremely unbalanced. Still, this book was one of the more enjoyable (although long) installments and brings a satisfying conclusion to the series.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The City of Towers: Eberron: Dreaming Dark, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Keith Baker
    • Narrated By Alex Hyde-White
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (24)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (22)

    The City of Towers launches a brand new novel line set in the world of Eberron, Wizards of the Coast’s newest D&D campaign setting. Author Keith Baker’s proposal for the exciting world of Eberron was chosen from 11,000 submissions, and he is the co-author of the Eberron Campaign Setting, the RPG product that launched the setting. The Eberron world will continue to grow through new roleplaying game products, novels, miniatures, and electronic games.

    Mister Christopher says: "Setting the Stage for the World of Eberron"
    "A New World, a Pleasant Surprise!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book definitely came as a pleasant surprise. Being new to the world of Eberron, I was delighted to discover a world setting for which I had been searching for a long time, one that combines fantasy and sci fi in such a way that opens up huge possibilities for storytelling and worldbuilding. And the setting for this particular tale is even more enthralling - a massive vertical city built upon impossibly tall towers, each housing its own kind of culture from the tops to the depths.

    But all that aside, I was surprised at the quality of the writing from Keith Baker. He definitely brings the world and the character to life in just the right way. That, and the performance of the narrator, made the dialogue sound witty and natural, and the characters burst with life. Also the nature of the story as kind of a detective-type story and not an epic world-shattering event felt very refreshing.

    Another thing that I like about Eberron is the integration of the races. In this world, the traditional evil races such as goblins, orcs, and even medusa are not simply enemies that pop out to try and kill the characters. These races exist in their own pocket of Sharn, with their own societies, and their own rules. Traveling there does not necessarily battle has to occur - although racial tensions still make such an encounter likely. But when battle does occur, it's just as likely to be between a human and dwarf, or some other race. That kind of leveling of the playing field also makes Eberron feel refreshing and interesting.

    I enjoyed this one a lot, and hope to check out the other two books in the series and maybe other books by Keith Baker.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Rose and the Thorn: The Riyria Chronicles, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Michael J. Sullivan
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2506)
    Performance
    (2307)
    Story
    (2313)

    For more than a year, Royce Melborn has tried to forget Gwen DeLancy, the woman who saved him and his partner, Hadrian Blackwater, from certain death. Unable to get her out of his mind, the two thieves return to Medford but receive a very different reception - Gwen refuses to see them. The victim of abuse by a powerful noble, she suspects that Royce will ignore any danger in his desire for revenge. By turning the thieves away, Gwen hopes to once more protect them. What she doesn't realize is what the two are capable of - but she's about to find out.

    Cecil says: "Great Series but don't start here"
    "A Series with Potential"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This one was a definite step up from the previous volume, both in terms of story complexity and overall value. It continued the storyline from the first book, which I hadn't found that interesting, because I wanted to see new adventures focusing on the main two characters. There's a bit more time spent on the nobility and their retainers, and a plot against the king, and on a young squire-to-be who ends up as one of the book's main characters.

    I was a bit confused at times, because there seemed to be some overlap in content from Sullivan's short story, "The Viscount and the Witch". It had been over a year since I read that story though, so it was all pretty fuzzy. If so, this story fleshed out the over a lot, and added in a much-needed third member to the team, the noble who can get Royce and Hadrian more lucrative and interesting heists/jobs. There's a lot of potential for more adventures in this series if the author plays it right.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Rise of Empire: Riyria Revelations, Volume 2

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Michael J. Sullivan
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4876)
    Performance
    (4448)
    Story
    (4475)

    Best-selling author Michael J. Sullivan’s mesmerizing Riyria Revelations series has found a welcome home with fans of magic, clashing swords, and daring heroes. This second volume finds Royce and Hadrian on a quest to enlist the southern Nationalists to aid the ever-weakening kingdom of Melengar. Royce suspects an ancient wizard is manipulating them all, but to find the truth he’ll have to decipher Hadrian’s past—a past Hadrian wants to keep secret.

    Adnan says: "Great continuation of the first book. Tons of fun!"
    "Sophomore Slump"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Wow, definitely a sophomore slump here in this second volume of the Riyria Revelations. Overall the story just drags on; he could have cut probably 40-50% of this book and not really lost anything. It's full of common fantasy tropes that aren't really even pulled off that well. The book itself is a combination of two different "episode" novels that follow a larger plot line, and each novel advances the overall story a little bit. That isn't a bad idea, but each individual novel could have been much shorter.

    There seems to be a real lack of understanding of what makes a good fantasy here. At times the book shines with interesting tidbits and comical humor, but unlike the first volume there seems to be too much of the Game of Thrones-style ultra-realistic fantasy here. The heroes fail so often, and virtually all the good side characters die, that there isn't really much of a story at all. I suppose if this was a history book where you knew the result ahead of time, you would expect that. But after waiting for so long to see some mystery revealed, or for the character's plan to finally be carried out, seeing their plans fail utterly and important people be killed so brutality does not make me enjoy a story.

    Now my problem is I feel obligated to read the third volume since I already purchased it and have read the whole story so far.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Voyage of the Mourning Dawn: Eberron: Heirs of Ash, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Rich Wulf
    • Narrated By Marcella Rose Sciotto
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    young street thief finds herself embroiled in a quest to find a powerful super-weapon thought lost during the final days of the Last War. She's never known anything but the dingy streets of her own city, but she is taken in by the crew of the airship "Mourning Dawn" and soon finds herself in strange lands filled with wonders and horrors beyond her wildest dreams.

    Joshua says: "Great Introduction to Eberron"
    "Great Introduction to Eberron"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    This feels like the world that I've been waiting to read about for years! Finally, a world that combines fantasy and sci-fi in a very Final Fantasy-esque way, one where the magic integrates into the technology while keeping the magic part mysterious. Its sci-fi elements lean a bit towards steampunk, but still this is very much a fantasy world. Eberron is the kind of place I could really get into knowing more. The descriptions make me long to play the game, or better yet, to see if depicted in movies or video games. Incorporating autonomous sentient robots and airships powered by magic - yes, please, and keep it coming!

    This was my first exposure to the world, so from the beginning it had me really glued to the story to learn what was happening in the world. It's clearly very different from other D&D such as Forgotten Realms while still paying strong homage to that series. But I like the development of the society and the focus on character development. I enjoyed reading about the main characters, and the plot kept me interested and eager to find out what was coming next. Still, though the story itself is pretty interesting, it's the unveiling of the world that really shines. In the book's second half the plot does lose some of its originality, but overall it was enjoyable right up to the end.

    I'm currently listening to the Dreaming Dark series, which is even better than this. But, I do hope to return to finish this trilogy also in the future.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Crown Tower: The Riyria Chronicles, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 49 mins)
    • By Michael J. Sullivan
    • Narrated By Tim Gerard Reynolds
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3204)
    Performance
    (2952)
    Story
    (2962)

    Michael J. Sullivan garnered critical raves and a massive readership for his Riyria Revelations series. The first book in his highly anticipated Riyria Chronicles series of prequels, The Crown Tower brings together warrior Hadrian Blackwater with thieving assassin Royce Melborn. The two form a less-than-friendly pairing, but the quest before them has a rare prize indeed, and if they can breach the supposedly impregnable walls of the Crown Tower, their names will be legend.

    Tango says: "Delicious Icing on a Terrific Cake"
    "Start with the Original Series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    Mostly a stand-alone fantasy set in the Riyria world, this "how they met" story returns to the great dynamic duo of Royce and Hadrian, detailing how they first met and got set upon their great set of adventures. As usual, this book is full of great banter and semi-humorous moments between the two of them, mixed with good characterization and fast-paced action scenes. Michael Sullivan's writing style really shines whenever he's writing the two of them - it's like they're part of the author, and you can tell that he's spent countless hours with them over the years.

    So, why only 2 stars? Well, I didn't really care for the second storyline in this book, and after a couple of chapters I started skipping the whole segments with those characters in it. It was the one about a desperate group of uneducated, abused prostitutes working to build their own brothel and overcoming the obstacles to achieving their dream...

    Wait, what...?

    Yeah, you heard right. Does that sound exciting to you? Thought not.

    There aren't many things that I would rather NOT read about more than a group of prostitutes struggling to open their own brothel. Seriously, Michael? Seriously?? You're a great writing and you spend all that time writing this?

    Honestly, I'm done with tales of prostitutes in fantasy, and I'm done with rape as a driving force in plot. It's been done, and overdone, and done again, and I think we should all be sick of it and urging writers to come up with something different. Now, I know that life in the Middle Ages was not all that pleasant for women. But if I want to learn more about how hard it's been historically, I can watch a documentary or read some historical text. This is FANTASY. If we relegate all our women to the roles of a) concubine, b) whore c) duke's wife d) farmer's wife, how are we going to have strong female characters who inspire women readers, not to mention giving us great female characters who can actually lead and drive a story?

    It's not that hard to envision a fantasy society where women have some power and are treated equally with men. Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen is probably the best example I've ever seen in epic fantasy. Others, such as the Wheel of Time, have strong matriarchal societies but still have strong gender role separation. In the Malazan Empire, however, women fight in the ranks just like men and are treated equally in every respect, and there are other societies where women actually control things outright.

    Think of it another way. What if Royce was a woman instead of a man? Would that change the story very much? It would certainly change the dynamic between the characters. But would such a storyline be unthinkable to write? I certainly don't think so.

    In the end, I didn't feel like I lost any of the story by skipping those chapters with the prostitutes. They only loosely tied into the main storyline right at the end. If this was a way to avoid a deus ex machina ending, I feel that too much time was spent building it up to really justify the payoff.

    Personally then, I would not recommend this as the place to start the Riyria stories. This is more for fans of the original trilogy of books who want more of Royce and Hadrian. I was fortunate to have read and enjoyed Theft of Swords first, so I know there are better adventures to come.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Dragon's Path: Dagger and Coin, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Daniel Abraham
    • Narrated By Pete Bradbury
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1192)
    Performance
    (1070)
    Story
    (1078)

    Popular author Daniel Abraham’s works have been nominated for the Hugo Award and the World Fantasy Award. In The Dragon’s Path, former soldier Marcus is now a mercenary—but he wants nothing to do with the coming war. So instead of fighting, he elects to guard a caravan carrying the wealth of a nation out of the war zone—with the assistance of an unusual orphan girl named Cithrin.

    Dave says: "A Subtle, Smart, and All-Around Great Epic Fantasy"
    "Middle of the Road Medieval Fantasy"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    This is an attempt at a high fantasy (I wouldn't call it epic) centered around diplomacy and war between kingdoms, but the barriers to entry it erects hamper it from achieving its potential.

    I believe that a novel should start strong, especially if you're going to introduce us to a new multi-book fantasy series. Right from the beginning, I got the feel that this was going to be something of a trudge, with no real hook and a viewpoint switch for every chapter. I've heard this described as Game of Thrones lite, and I can see that it seems to want to capitalize on that series' success (even before the TV show was a thought). Jumping around is fine, but the problem was that I couldn't identify or empathize with any of the characters. So in the end I feel pretty blase about the whole ordeal. In audio form, it's hard to distinguish between the different kingdoms and characters because many have similar names, and we have no map to help us out. In the end, none of the separate storylines really captured my attention or imagination the way I'd hoped. Also there is no real magic to speak of, so this is more like medieval fiction than fantasy.

    You might like this if you're feeling like reading about court intrigue and the machinations of banking deals, but you'll have to invest quite a bit into following all the different races, kingdoms, and factions. For me, it isn't exciting enough to continue investing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Holiday Classics by O. Henry

    • UNABRIDGED (49 mins)
    • By O. Henry
    • Narrated By Katherine Kellgren, Oliver Wyman, Jonathan Davis
    Overall
    (132)
    Performance
    (113)
    Story
    (113)

    When it comes to the holidays, no story captures the true spirit of giving like O. Henry’s classic "The Gift of the Magi". And in celebration of the season, Audie Award® winners Katherine Kellgren, Oliver Wyman, and Jonathan Davis bring to life this timeless Christmas tale, plus two more of O. Henry’s holiday gems: "The Cop and the Anthem" and "The Last Leaf".

    Jim Hall says: "Three well-narrated classic tales"
    "Definitely a Worthwhile Listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story


    Three touching and memorable stories comprise this volume of holiday classics, narrated superbly by some of Audible's best narrators. Though short, it was a very entertaining listen, as each story kept me interested and really transcended its historical time frame. Definitely a worthwhile listen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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