This was a fun action-packed episode in the ongoing series. So far Scalzi has been giving us lots of vignettes of various characters in the universe as the larger plot unfolds in the background. It's an interesting way to look at it. I wonder, since we're past the halfway points whether then larger events will be resolved in this series, or whether he is setting the stage for a larger novel later on. My guess is the latter!
Another amazing epic fantasy saga all contained in one book, with a climax as epic as that in Memories of Ice and House of Chains.
That he can weave yet another story of this magnitude, set on an entirely different continent with entirely different characters, is astounding. Erikson is the real deal when it comes to writing epic fantasy. And I believe that this may be his most approachable book yet in the series.
In fact, this wouldn't be a bad place to start the series from. It's an excellent standalone story, and although it helps to have 4 more books under your belt, I think most fantasy fans would be able to take this one by itself. It is also not quite as dark as the other books before it, which could help newcomers as well. There is more humor in this book, too, much of it dry, but for the first time I found myself laughing out loud while listening. The banter between characters, especially Tehol and Bugg, is great and deliciously builds upon itself with each new iteration.
In Midnight Tides, Erikson shows he can follow a tighter storyline and (relatively) fewer players, which enables the characters in this book to have more depth as we spend more time with them. And what amazing characters they are. Many of them stand out so uniquely and richly in my mind and I know I will not soon forget them. Trull Sengar, Rhulad, Udinaas, Kettle, Tehol and Bugg, Shurq Ellale, Iron Bars... There are SO MANY great characters and I enjoyed spending time with all of them. And we get introduced to so many fascinating characters as well.
There is almost no drag in this story, especially after the first quarter or so. This is a poignant story of two families and the brothers on both sides have rich personalities and you will find yourself caring for each of them. Yet this story contains so much more... A vast tale of war, but somehow Erikson is able to portray it both on the grand scale and the personal level. And the depth of plotting and foreshadowing is simply incredible... The climax of the story brings together so many threads, while dropping hints of things that are to come and give us glimpses of a MUCH broader landscape. The Malazan series is truly the most broadly epic fantasy series out there. I cannot wait for the next volume to be released on Audible.
A note on the narration: I agree with everyone else, that the change from Ralph Lister was definitely a step in the wrong direction. This despite the fact that Erikson went out of his way to write a note here essentially saying "I approve this choice". The thing is, in this case THE LISTENERS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT. If you don't want to listen to us, then you may not find us buying your books on audio anymore. You need to make good marketing decisions and make your customers happy, rather than sticking dogmatically to your own preferences. After all, we can always read these books in printed form.
There's nothing wrong with Michael Page's pronunciation or diction, for me; it's the fact that he can't differentiate the voices of the characters enough. Because of the dark setting and the plethora of large, hulking, inhuman characters, he tends to use his "growling" voice almost 50% of the time. This not only gets old and makes it hard to distinguish characters,, but cheapens the effect of using the growl in the first place.
Still, despite all this, I don't agree with people giving the book poor ratings because of the narrator. Keep the ratings separate between the two - that's what it's for. You can give the narration 1 star, but give the book the 5 overall stars it deserves.
I'm done. This novel was so bad, I couldn't make it past the halfway mark. I almost quit several times already, and should have listened to my inner voice and wasted less time. It is so BORING I cannot stand it anymore.
Wow, I actually kind of enjoyed Karpyshyn's Darth Bane novels, and was hoping for a fast-paced and action-packed book filled with cool concepts and magic. Instead we get an extremely amateur and unoriginal book that seems to be as dark as possible simply for the sake of being dark. This is exactly what is wrong with modern epic fantasy, and Karpyshyn is just falling right into the well-trod wagon ruts hewn by Martin, Abercrombie, Weeks, and others, albeit with seemingly none of the skill in writing that the other authors have.
I mean, seriously. Don't authors have EDITORS anymore? The whole first part of the book at four bloody and gruesome birth sequences (by the fourth you have compeltely forgotten who was born to whom), ALL of which should have been cut and filled in later on in the story. Then we apparently get snippets of the different kids growing up. I'm not sure because by that point I was so lost and couldn't remember who was who, so stopped caring and listened on max speed. I dare you to try and make sense of this mess.
The novel just gets worse from there. Not to mention the rampant misogyny (another supposed "dark fantasy" trait) - women should be offended at not only how Karpyshyn treats the females in his book, but also in how he writes them. Maybe he should stick with male characters. Right from the start, his descriptions of pregnant women just felt totally misrepresented and sexist to me. Birthing does not have to be the horrible experience that you think it is, Drew. Some women actually are happy when their kids are born! Just about every character that shows up in this book is so stereotyped, I think you could skip a large portion of it and still not feel like you missed anything at the end.
Sheesh, this book is just so bad that it's... No, it's still bad.
Hoping to finish this series before the end of the year, I decided to go with the abridged audiobook. I made the choice also because I didn't enjoy any of the other books in the series and wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. And, strangely enough, despite the very short running time, I still don't feel like much happened. The whole story is still confusing and not very interesting to me, and I can't really understand why it is popular amongst certain circles. There is nothing really new here, and the personalities and thought processes of the characters are still just as strange and alien as in the other books. I'm glad to be done with this series.
The audio quality is pretty low, since it seems to have been recorded a long time ago. I think Audible realized though that it's not worth the expense to have this re-recorded. This series is probably only going to appeal to avid fans of Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon.
This is fantasy at the most absolutely epic end of the genre.
This book brings together so many threads that have been building over the course of the first 4 books, and once you see how intricately structured the tale is that Erikson is telling, the scope is astounding. It is hard to imagine the work that went into planning this story. This was the first book where I really felt like I knew what was going on throughout the vast majority of the book, and so I think I enjoyed it a lot more, even more than Memories of Ice, perhaps.
The first 270 pages or so are a masterpiece of epic fantasy writing, showing that in fact Erikson CAN write one single storyline without diverging into dozens of sub-characters and plots. The writing is tight, and it's hard to imagine anything being cut. When it is over it's actually a bit disappointing that we have to get on with the main storyline, which is of course, the war that's been brewing between the rebellion of Seven Cities and the Malazan Empire. As the tale progresses, I really felt that I had a grasp on most of the key players, and I think this is in part to Erikson finally revealing tons and tons of backstory and explanations of the various plots that are going on. Although unexpected things are constantly occurring, it seems that an overall picture of the storyline is now becoming clearer. After this we reach a kind of pause for breath, as the fifth book starts a new tale on a new continent that will eventually tie into the whole storyline.
The interesting thing is that while there are definitely some good characters and some evil characters, and thankfully the good guys (generally) make it out all right in the end and the evil guys get their comeuppance, there are a host of characters that fall between categories, as it seems in real life, who are "gray" and you do eventually come to understand their motivations and positions, even if you may have hated them at first. I think this tempers the fact that we cannot get quite as much character development at an individual scale when dealing with such a large dramatis personae. The main characters feel like they have some deep backstories that are simply not yet revealed, driven by excellent dialogue and POV moments, plus insights from other characters watching from the sidelines.
I was disappointed at first that the series switched narrators, but within the first hour I was hooked by Michael Page's amazing performance, and now I don't regret it. He especially brought Karsa Orlong to life for me, a character that (as a perfect example of what I mentioned before) I disliked at first, labeling as a villain, and now find one of the most interesting characters in the entire series, whom I find myself cheering on more and more. His growth and development in particular, changing from evil to (mostly) good, is quite a masterful piece of storytelling.
This is a Hunger Games clone without the games - no, scratch that. It's an angsty teen romance novel set in a dystopic world that has no explanation at all. The main character is the weakest, sissiest and clueless girl ever, with the author using all the common tropes of information withholding etc. to try and build tension. I'm not sure if there is a single idea or event here you haven't already encountered before.
Do yourself a favor and avoid this one like the plague. Even the Divergent series looks good next to this one.
This is a military fantasy that tries to be a mix between the grittiness of Glen Cook/Steven Erikson and the modern trend of moving into flintlock fantasy. Unfortunately little new ground is tread here, however.
For starters, the book starts out on the wrong foot - with a meeting. Wow, how exciting is that? Followed by conversation and exposition, which immediately have you sighing with boredom. Oh, there's the obligatory mysterious foreshadowing magic scene at the beginning, which is of course meaningless because you have no context for it at all.
What follows is mostly a military campaign of battles involving characters you don't know, who don't get much development. There is eventually some, but unfortunately by then your opinion of the book is already pretty low. It's a shame, because the author could have made this a lot more exciting, but he relies far too much on familiar tropes, most of which have already been done in novels of the last couple of years. Seriously, another fantasy series where nobody believes in gods/magic anymore, only to suddenly find out that it's all in fact true? This is old, old, well-trod ground, folks.
Probably most shocking of all: this book has some of the filthiest, ugliest language I have ever seen in a fantasy book. Seriously, I feel like I need a brain cleansing after this listen, and Wexler needs some scrubbing bubbles for his potty mouth, or maybe some sanitary wipes for the diarrhea all over his keyboard. This is fantasy, folks! You don't use the dirtiest modern-day slang you heard of in the latest R-rated movies. This author has a serious vocabulary deficiency.
Needless to say, I don't intend to read the rest of this series, and you probably won't, either.
Much like "The Death of Sleep", this book has a very interesting premise that is absolutely terrible in its execution. I chalk this up to two things. First is the writing style, which is just not good. Secondly, I think McCaffrey and Moon are science fiction fans, not scientists. This is space opera, not hard SF. Don't expect things to make much sense if you're thinking analytically about this world.
Note about the writing style: There is scant detail given about what is going on, virtually no internal character thoughts or development, and really almost no narrative. The story reads like a series of news reports with much of the emotion and details left out. The narrator only made things worse, with little emotion and no real voices for the characters.
Ultimately a disappointment, written by two science fictions fans who are also very liberal women pushing a totally unrealistic view of the future. In the 21st century, we look back at such ideas and we snicker at how childish it seems now.
This book started with an interesting premise, but it all went downhill from there. The woman gets stranded in time several times due to cold sleep malfunction, which is so extremely unlikely that is sticks out as the mere plot point that it is. Secondly, the story fails to deliver audience expectation - that is, does she get reunited with her daughter? At first we see she'll do whatever it takes to find her, then halfway through the book she inexplicably gives up. After that the novel makes no sense, as the plot tries to go in a new direction, which was a totally bad idea, and fails anyway. I got very lost and bored and listened to most if the book on double speed just to get through it.
The Blade Itself is part of the more recent wave of darker, more gritty, military-style fantasy, and one the whole I'd say it holds up better than average. Its strengths are in the dark sense of humor that permeates the whole novel, and in the realistic and well-written action sequences. A few characters stand out, especially Inquisitor Glokta, who is by far the best developed and most memorable. Strangely, it seems that the character development doesn't really kick in until the latter half of the novel, at which point it really takes off at breakneck speed. This brings us to the novel's downsides.
Inexplicably, after a great opening sequence and first few chapters, the story really starts to drag. The scale remains very small and narrow until much later in the novel. At this point to me, the novel was already not going to make more than three stars, even though the story really picks up and becomes interesting later on. Also, the novel suffers from a plethora of filthy language.
Is "The Blade Itself" interesting enough to read the whole trilogy? For me, it's on the back burner; I have a lot more books on my reading list to get to first.
I don't think this story really classifies as Epic Fantasy, at least not the first book. It certainly has a good cast of characters, but not the scope that we've come to expect from other epics such as the Wheel of Time or ASoIaF. And you could drop this entire novel into any of the books in the massive Malazan series and lose it. Still, this book has definitely cemented Abercrombie's place amongst the new wave of modern fantasy writers.
I stumbled upon this author through someone's Goodreads review, and recently have been reading a lot of "first published independently" authors. When I discovered the author was a fellow North Carolinian and that the story takes place here in NC, I was fairly excited to try him out!
The zombie genre is, in a word, overdone these days, but I was hoping for a new twist on the theme. This one is well written, and kept me interested all the way. There were a few minor snags for me, though.
The prologue started out great. Once we get into chapter 1, however, the story jumps back to the main character's life before the outbreak. Then we get to see the outbreak itself. I don't know about you, but I've seen the zombie "origin story" enough times by now. This one is fairly straightforward, and I could have done without it.
I kept hoping we would quickly make it back to the timeline in the prologue, featuring the main characters of Eric and Gabriel. Unfortunately, the story gets sidetracked again, and I realized that I wasn't going to like the direction the story was taking. Again, don't get me wrong: the story is pretty good. I just didn't find anything particularly unique about it, nor about the rest of the plot as it unfolds. The book also suffered from a lot of cursing and bad language that I wasn't expecting and frankly could have done without.
In fact, the entire book itself is backstory, which is a shame, because it is well written and interesting. The problem is, we KNOW that Eric is going to end up with Gabriel, just two of them, holed up in a cabin inside a fence looking out on the world. I wanted to find out what happens AFTER that, and I didn't want to wait until book 2 or 3 to find out.
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