It is hard to write a review of something that took me so by surprise. We've been taught that something of ourselves is brought into play when a story has been shared or experienced, be it written or in audio format. If something of the story resonates with me then I normally find the story and the experience to be a good one.
With that said, I thoroughly enjoy this story.
This story brought back memories of Slavic and Baltic exchange students I'd known. Not the "Otherness" part but the everyday human part.
For me, Sergei Lukyanenko, has given us a story where the events in our heroes (both Light and Dark) lives are part of 9 to 11 ball pattern in juggling.
... and at some time or another he has thrown a ball either so high that we forget that it was in the pattern or pocketed the ball when we weren't looking, and when the time is right; pop, there is another ball in the pattern.
That the story is engaging, for me, is the best way to put it, not always comfortable and sometimes very hectic, but never chaotic.
And very beautiful ....
... but then your idea of beauty and mine may very well be different, and then again, that very difference is an important theme, voice, lyric in this story.
I hope this helps.
Stan Lee says it in his prologue ... a good story manages to speak to us the reader or listener on some recognizable and shared level.
Between Mr. Moore's writing and Mr. Urie's myriad of voices I was walking along with Thom and simultaneously remembering my own world with B-52 bombers flying low altitude-below-radar exercises against a backdrop of lava rock out-cropping sporadically dotting an in-land seas of wheat fields and where county-wide rivalries in basketball are tradition.
I found myself remembering wind-sprints, running the lines, climbing the peg board, posting up and playing one on one when our zone wasn't good enough; learning that I liked being on a team and hoped to god that I didn't come off as being queer or gay....
On the flip side to that...
Our town, with its sole single caution light was a singular testament to the size of the town and just how far into rural wheat and ranching country one could get....
That rugged and rural space is what houses the memories of riding hell bent for leather on our bikes to get to the tracks as a freight rolled through, and when we got older daring each other to sit under the bridge support beams when a freight came through...
and to Thom, way to go buddy...
I was introduced to Gerald Tarrant and Damian Vryce maybe 2007 or 2008 and have enjoyed the dialog between the two ever since. When I saw that it was in audio form I decided to chance it.
I've seen other reviews where this trilogy was characterized as tedious, maybe I was spared that because I had already read the trilogy, more than once.
There is a sense, at least to me, of earned respect given by each character. The mix of frontier mentalities with the canonical structure of the Church made for a great backdrop for Tarrant and Vryce.
There is a slower pace to this story that is a wonderful change from my other genres where things are always on the move or blowing up, etc.
Another thing that I enjoyed, is that it the characters where not truly black or white, all had their faults, all had their strengths.
Then there is Tarrant, how could I not love, him... arrogant, powerful, but always, well almost always true to himself...
In the previous statements I wanted to say that all the main characters have a dark side and a side that strives for the goodness of the light; with Tarrant he has his dark side, and then his maybe-no-so-dark side... ;-)
I didn't get to the point where I had to write in the margins of my copy of this book; for that try reading "My House has Two Doors" by Han SuYin, but I can see where one might have to double back a couple times to see if he or she missed something. Really not easy with an audio file..
My two cents for what it is worth..
First, what for me, detracted from the story..
1.) A couple of instances between Azoth/Kylar and Master Blint where our story-teller re-hashed the underlying motives of both characters as to why each was feeling or reacting as they did.
2.) Maybe a little more cultural history, and flat out geography, (maybe I wasn't paying attention - for those of us who actually are ADD ;-), as to the layout of this kingdom would of fixed this world a little better in my mind.
Other than that ... I was dropped into this wonderful, terrifying world and loved it.
Why I liked it ...
1.) With the mix of cultures, the story-teller's use of names hinted at and/or delineated the characters and made them real for me.
2.) His weaving and mixing of the Old World, Yakuza, and maybe even a nod at the Tongs to create a world where a "Durzo Blint" and a "Kylar Stern" could exist. (Before rabid perfectionist jump on the word Tong, it isn't PinYin, Wade-Giles or Yale.)
3.) As an ex-Grunt, there wasn't an MOS that didn't have it's own special vocabulary e.g. 05H, ditty-chasers, 98G, dingy-lingy, so it wasn't so hard for me to jump from "wet-work" to "wet-boy" without any difficulty or sexual insecurities on my part....
What made it funny ....
"Humping the bridge"....
Hope this helps, Q
I have the pulp version, and loved it, looking forward to the next up in the series...
I stumbled onto this story because of Holter Graham, whom I now believe to be a present day Cyngael. A convergent story-line is difficult at best, but Guy Gavriel Kay weaves a mystical reality and brings it home with honest characters. The end result is a magical story that is as elegant and beautiful as Celtic knot.
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