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!
I was attending Orson Scott Card's Writing Workshop this year when I heard him mentioning how difficult it was for him to wrap up writing this book. He knew he had a real gem on his hands; this is easily his most ambitious series since Ender's Game. Seems that he truly thought this was one of his best, but he had only one, BIG problem: he had no idea how to end the story.
I was a bit shocked to hear this. The Pathfinder series is easily my favorite of his since the original Ender's Game. Yet as creative as this project was - and he had written a killer beginning and a good middle - he had been working on the project without actually knowing how it was all going to turn out. This process is typically known as free-writing, or letting the story tell itself as you write and lose yourself within it. However, the style has its drawbacks, one of which is that endings can be kind of weak and unsatisfying.
Then, at the workshop, Scott said that he had recently had an epiphany of sorts and that he finally knew how to end it up. He then proceeded to finish this novel while his students were working on the rough drafts of their assignment stories. This greatly relieved me, who had been waiting for this novel with much anticipation for the last couple of years.
Ultimately, this novel pulls off the ending that it promised. But boy, does it go in a lot of unexpected directions on the way there! At times, I felt like I could see where Card had struggled. The story itself meanders in places, seeming to get lost within itself. It goes off on tangents and I can't seem to figure out WHY Card even wrote those parts, or left them in the final novel.
But though there are frustrations at times, but in the end I feel it deserves 4 stars. Let me tell you that this book crams a LOT into its pages. This story goes way, way far away from its humble fantasy novel roots that were begun in "Pathfinder". There are tons of philosophical examples and conversations that are typical Card. There were a couple of story arcs that weren't that interesting to me. But I have to commend Card for being able to pull this one off. I really enjoyed the characters, most of which felt so alive to me that I know I'll remember them for a long time. It's actually kind of sad to see this series end. I could see it continuing on much further from here.
I would definitely recommend this series to any Card fans, even if you've just read Ender's Game. This remains my favorite series of his right beside the title that gave him his fame.
This book pupped up on Audible's sale list at just the right moment for me. I had just had a meeting with an agency where I was pitching my company to them. I just wish I had listened to this book before going! I was really intrigued by the system presented here. Logically it seems like it would really work. I am looking forward to trying some of these techniques next time, although I'm sure it will take LOTS of practice.
I like the guy's energy and way of doing business. However I don't like the way he tries to take everything back to the theory of evolution. This isn't a time to preach your beliefs on me; you don't have to explain WHY you think that your system works, based on someone's neuroscientific theories. Just tell me that's HOW the brain works and don't distract me with all the supposed background information. That's violating the very methods he's teaching.
But anyway, I am interested to see how the results of using this technique will turn out.
Like some other readers have mentioned, I probably should have read these books when I was growing up, because I think I would have enjoyed them a lot more back then. The story would have felt newer, and I could probably have handled the motley cast of characters better. Sadly I missed that chance, and now listening to this story as an adult no longer carries the same kind of feeling it might have.
Reading this book is much like watching someone else play D&D on pencil and paper. Especially early on you can almost envision the players making their hit rolls or doing a perception check. Plus, you're just kind of dumped into the story with the beginning of a generic quest with a bunch of generic elements instigated by a very generic magical staff. Right from the beginning we're introduced to a whole cast of characters, and it is immediately hard to keep up with who is who. That's a shame, because the story could have been so much better. I think that the Death Gate Cycle by the same authors is hands down better than this in every way, and the fact that this was published around 10 years earlier definitely shows in the writing strength.
It's too bad, because I really wanted to like this series (I bought all 4 books in paperback already) because there are definitely some interesting characters and world elements here. It's just the execution was weak; the characters mostly feel shallow or one-dimensional, and a lot of the quests and things are far too generic and should have been avoided. I would have liked to see a lot more character development and some rich detailing of the world, rather than dungeon crawling and questing. I understand that this was to help launch a whole new D&D world and campaign setting but all the more reason to create a sophisticated, intelligent story. In short, I was hoping for epic fantasy, and what I got was basically swords and sorcery.
One interesting thing about this series is the cameo of the old wizard Nezbin, I believe his name is. He bears a striking resemblance to the similarly-named Zifnab in the Death Gate Cycle, and I highly doubt this is coincidence as he has an identical personality. That was kind of a fun touch, linking their worlds like that.
The narrator of these books was not that great. I never liked his voice and don't think he executed a lot of it very well. Intonation and delivery just felt off and amateurish at times. Sorry to be a harsh critic about that but a really great narrator can make up for a lot in a story. Sadly this one dragged it down a star or so.
The second book in this trilogy picks up virtually right where the first one left off. Although 10 years have elapsed in the interim, little has changed except that Drizzt has been surviving on his own and has grown even harder and tougher.
This book had a good mix of action and character development. While the plot didn't introduce much in the way of new or unexpected ideas, it still kept me listening without getting boring. Personally though, I didn't care too much to hear anymore about the Drow still living back in Drizzt's homeland. Since this series is my introduction to the whole Forgotten Realms world, I wanted to see Drizzt make it on his own in new environments, discovering things along with him. The snaps back to Menzoberranzan were therefore unwanted and jolting. I understand though that most of the books happen on the surface, and that this series was written later specifically to detail Drizzt's former life. To that extent I think it accomplishes its task well, and achieves some nicely satisfying moments as well. It's not epic fantasy or anything, but it's a good diversion of a story.
The premise of this book felt really familiar as I started listening to it. Then I realized I'd already seen the movie a couple of years ago, only then it was called Surrogates and starred Bruce Willis.
Seriously though, while I have enjoyed a lot of Scalzi's books, this one just wasn't nearly as exciting to me as most of the others. It was actually almost boring at times, and I think that is because it felt like we're just treading along well-plowed ground. Sure, the instigator of the technology (a virus) was a different twist, but that just made it feel like your average epidemic book, followed by, well, the film Surrogates.
Scalzi isn't known very much for blazing new trails, but rather refining concepts that are already familiar to us. Old Man's War was much like Starship Troopers or Forever War. Redshirts is essentially a Star Trek parody. Fuzzy Nation was based off of Little Fuzzy, and so on and so forth. Likewise, this novel is similar to Caves of Steel and similar detective stories featuring android/cyborg characters, and it doesn't offer all that much new except for including tons of modern culture into it. The book almost feels like it could happen within then next couple of decades, but stretches the imagination just a bit too far to sell the concept completely.
This is a solid 3-star book, and isn't Scalzi's best by any stretch of the imagination. It was solidly written in Scalzi's sardonic style, and included some good humorous moments. However, I'll have to give a strong language warning on this one, because there is definitely some filthy speech going on at times.
This was another debut military sci-fi novel, this time by Evan C. Currie. However, unlike the "Man of War" series I recently started as well, this one is not only quite clearly a "first novel", it is also clear that it was self-published first. Although it gets better near the end, the first part of the book is amateurish and difficult to continue listening to. It shows why good editors are so important in fiction writing. The author makes a number of choices in the story that simply are too much to possibly believe. Feeling like a kind of cheap Star Trek copy, the novel starts with humanity's first faster-than-light ship's maiden voyage, that then quickly turns into a Jack Campbell-style military sci-fi romp. But the jump is way too sudden, and the situation utterly unbelievable. Almost immediately upon arriving at Alpha Centauri, the ship responds to a distress signal in yet another system, which they blindly follow, after which continues one unlikely decision after another until this fleet is involved in full-scale battles with alien forces. It is simply not believable that such a captain would make decisions like this, not based on our current knowledge of military procedures and extensive and careful prototype testing.
While the book does get better later on (at least the space battle are well done), it can't make up for the strange and out of place decisions that are made by both the author and characters in the first half. Another seriously unbelievable element is in the type of "aliens" they run into, although I won't spoil that particular point. Ultimately if he wanted to write an exploration novel, then exploration should have dominated the theme of the book and the conflict kept small and realistic. If he wanted to write military space battles, then he should have introduced us to a world in which this was already feasible, not tacking it on to what was essentially an exploration mission. Some people might disagree with me and say that it worked for them. If so, then please continue reading and I hope you enjoy the rest of the series. I'll be stopping here, thanks.
I'm not really a fan of McCaffrey's style or her writing, but I did enjoy this one more than other books of hers. In essence this is a very character-driven tale of self-discovery and a touching story of love and family. We follow the Rowan from the time she is a baby through to motherhood, and everything is rendered very beautiful and real. McCaffrey's style is very visible as there is a lot of focus on character interactions more than the wider world. Still, the aspects of telepathy and telekinesis were cool and the exploration of it in terms of the relationships was very well done.
I'm not interested to the point of continuing the series (the alien aspect is not too interesting to me), but I think as a standalone it works quite well.
Huge props to Audible for offering this as a free download! And with an all-star cast! There are some really great voices in this collection, and although some of them seemed to struggle a bit with a few words, for the most part they did an admirable job.
I have only recently started venturing into the world of D&D, so there were a lot of characters that I didn't know. I'm sure that fans of the series will enjoy this immensely. For me, there were some stories that were harder to follow than others. Most of these stories do not actually feature Drizzt directly, which I hadn't expected. Still, there is a good mix of stories here, enough to give one a good sense of the variety of characters, creatures and events that exist in this world. There's also plenty of action-packed battles.
This was a worthy follow-up to the first book, and even exceeds it in pretty much every way. For anyone who likes military space action, this is one you'll probably enjoy. It has a feel of the best traits of Jack Campbell's "Lost Fleet" series or David Feintuch's "Hope" series, but does stand way out on its own with some very nice and original ideas.
Although you will almost immediately recognize this world because of common traits you've seen before, there is something refreshing about this series that really makes it stand out. Part of it is a very well realized world that doesn't waste time on extraneous detail. The series has a mission-by-mission feel that really draws you into the world and makes you feel like you're there. It brings back memories to me of games like Wing Commander, where you're on one ship that is part of a much larger war, but you don't really see the big picture. It's definitely still there, but there's also a big sense of mystery about what's going to happen next. I also like the incorporation of truly varied alien races, with a very believable dynamic to them; in fact, this universe brings back memories of another of my favorite games of all time, Star Control II. There is a sense of many races out there each vying for their own interests, each at different technological levels, and both communication, trade, and territory is all mapped out very believably and interestingly.
Overall I would say any fan of adventure scifi will enjoy this series. It's definitely off to a good start and I could really see this story stretching out across many enjoyable books. I'm looking forward to the next volume.
This was a great debut effort that stands out because of the strong characterization of the main character. Boiled down, this is a pretty straightforward mystery novel. The thing that makes it stand out is that the story is told in the voice of a main character who is a sociopath. In that sense, Wells has done an outstanding job. Now, I don't know if his depiction of a sociopath is accurate or not, but it feels believable enough. On the other hand, the main character is afraid that he is going to turn into a serial killer because he has so many common serial killer traits and thoughts. I don't know if I buy all that, and I think that it is overdone in several places. Parts of the book were disturbing and I would rather they not be in there, personally. But overall I have to admit that it is well done. The overall plot may not be realistic, but the book itself is pretty good.
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