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Bruce

Knoxville, MD, United States | Member Since 2007

ratings
501
REVIEWS
89
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
21
HELPFUL VOTES
350

  • Anna Karenina

    • UNABRIDGED (36 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Leo Tolstoy
    • Narrated By Davina Porter
    Overall
    (642)
    Performance
    (277)
    Story
    (281)

    This is the story of the unhappy family of Anna Karenina. The novel contains much concerning Tolstoy's spiritual crisis and his search for the meaning of life. But it is also chiefly about marriage, and the growth and death of love.

    AnnaH says: "Even Better Aloud"
    "Anna Karenina"
    Overall

    Of all the Russian literature I have listened to in audio form, this was by far the best experience. I don't really know what the narrator did differently here, but the rhetorical digressions flowed with the story well enough that I rarely noticed them. It may just be Tolstoy's skill, but bravo to Divina Porter for many hours of entertainment. I enjoyed the story, the ideas, and the characters very much. If you have to choose between this novel and War and Peace, although they are both excellent, choose this one.

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Prince Lestat: The Vampire Chronicles

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Anne Rice
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (171)
    Performance
    (162)
    Story
    (164)

    The novel opens with the vampire world in crisis… vampires have been proliferating out of control; burnings have commenced all over the world, huge massacres similar to those carried out by Akasha in The Queen of the Damned… Old vampires, roused from slumber in the earth are doing the bidding of a Voice commanding that they indiscriminately burn vampire-mavericks in cities from Paris and Mumbai to Hong Kong, Kyoto, and San Francisco.

    Bruce says: "There is Wonderous Power in The Blood - I loved it"
    "There is Wonderous Power in The Blood - I loved it"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Vampire Chronicles spans 38 (Real Life) years now. I read borrowed copies of “Interview With The Vampire” and “The Vampire Lestat” (which ended in a cliff-hanger) then waited what seemed like an eternity for “Queen of the Damned.” I read that novel, and the ten subsequent novels and the related Mayfair Witches novels as they were released. After Blood Canticle, I did not expect to ever meet my old fictional fiend-friends again.

    This is the 13th book in the Vampire Chronicles. It is written in mixed 1st Person, and 3rd Person Narration, with Lestat primarily written in First person. It flows together very nicely and I did not initially even notice the change in narration Point of View. I was impressed by this. Often changing of points of view in this fashion jolts me out of the story, and in “Prince Lestat” that only happened once, and only for a few paragraphs. This is not a flaw in the book. I learned something new to me about writing that I need to study further.

    There is noticeable product placement in “Prince Lestat.” Good for Ms. Rice. It isn’t done in a heavy handed way, and in this case (as apposed to some best selling novels where the product placement often is so blatant it seems more important then story,) using product brands enhances the story. This is modern age “Patronage.” Marius would approve. Celebrity Endorsements are more difficult for writers then musicians. The one issued that Ms. Rice doesn’t face with use of brand names is dating the story. Dating the story actually an enhancement when writing about the angst of immortal creatures.

    Simon Vance did an amazing job reading this book. He got to warm up reading the long awaited unabridged version of “Memnoch the Devil.” Bravo Mr. Vance! Lestat’s accent comes and goes, French to American, or a Fusion of both. This was well done and realistic. Marius’ accent must have been a challenge. I would have made his spoken voice more languid and detached, however that is just my personal take on the character. This is also not a flaw. I’m looking forward to hearing him read “Memnoch,” but I’ll wait a weeks or so before taking that journey again.

    I enjoyed every single word of “Prince Lestat.” There were several passages that moved me very deeply. I suspect other readers fill also find bits of their own mortal life’s journey reflected in this novel. If one has read all the preceding books, I believe you will find this 13th a welcome reunion with old friends. To me it felt like, “Putting on my old leather jacket once again, as Winter cold approaches.”

    I do not recommend starting with this novel. If you haven’t read the preceding novels, I suggest that you go back and read “Interview With The Vampire,” “The Vampire Lestat,” and “The Queen of the Damned” before (if you really have to) skipping ahead to “Prince Lestat.” The reader will get the most out of this 13th book by reading all of them in order, as well as “The Witching Hour,” “Lasher,” “Merrick,” “Blackwood Farm” and “Blood Canticle.” I thought until recently that “Blood Canticle” was the end of the story. It most certainly is NOT.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • Circle of Reign: The Dying Lands Chronicle, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Jacob Cooper
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (266)
    Performance
    (257)
    Story
    (259)

    Lands die. The living light fades. An ancient darkness awakens. The Living Light that sustains Arlethia is dwindling. An unknown, vicious enemy approaches in stealth from beyond the northern glaciers, a wasteland of ice that spans hundreds of miles. A clandestine brotherhood of assassins, held in check by the Light for millennia, seeks to break their maledictive shackles and unleash their bloodlust upon the world.

    Andrew Stone says: "I LIKED IT!"
    "Not Worth Continuing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is bad writing, Overly verbose, and often words are mis-used. Michael Kramer tries hard, but there is no way I can get past the quality of the prose, the poor use of point of view, modern slang, Adjective and adverb overload, and no back story to explain all the invented fantasy words and sudden superpowers.... There is a story here, but I am surprised anyone would publish it. It is just plain bad work. I may be pickier then others, some might not care about these issues. I do, enough to review it and lose 1 credit. I would otherwise return this manuscript (as the publisher should have.)

    4 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Smugglers of Gor: Gorean Saga, Book 32

    • UNABRIDGED (20 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By John Norman
    • Narrated By Shannon Gunn, Lucky Summer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (5)

    In what constitutes as a prequel to Mariners of Gor, we learn that a mysterious cargo, suitably disguised, was covertly placed on the great ship, a cargo that might influence the outcome of the aforementioned gamble. One narrator is a young woman, once a Miss Margaret Alyssa Cameron, and the other is an individual whose name, for reasons that will become obvious, is withheld in the manuscript. It does seem clear, however, that the individual referred to was somehow instrumental in bringing the former Miss Cameron to the height of a large slave block in the coastal city of Brundisium, one of Gor’s major ports.

    Bruce says: "In Which A Slaver Learns Much Of Himself"
    "In Which A Slaver Learns Much Of Himself"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This prequel to “Mariners” is the story of a Slaver and one of his Earth Barbarian captures. We learn of secrets and conspiracy before the sailing of the Great Ship With No Eyes. Duel Narrated. I enjoyed this book very much and I didn’t expect to. It contains information that will make events in “Rebels” much clearer, but does not resolve any mysteries. We do learn more of the Panther Girls in the Northern Forests, some of whom we first met in “Hunters.”

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Conspirators of Gor: Gorean Saga, Book 31

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By John Norman
    • Narrated By Emma Taylor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (5)

    Picking up where the alien war between Kurii and Priest-Kings left off, a young woman by the name Allison Ashton-Baker, involved in playing Gorean games on Earth, is transported to Ar to become a major witness of the unfolding events. We meet again with Lord Grendal, the result of a failed experiment to mix the genes of humans and Kurii; the Lady Bina, former pet of Agamemnon, she who dreams of becoming Ubara of Ar; and Agamemnon himself, 11th face of the Nameless One, the illustrious mastermind behind the Kurrian invasion.

    Bruce says: "The Further Adventures of Lady Bina and Grendel"
    "The Further Adventures of Lady Bina and Grendel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Told by an Earth Girl Slave, we once again meet Lady Bina and Lord Grendel. I read a really negative review of this book. I think it is very enjoyable. The author seems to have regained his sense of humor, and the story is engaging and well told.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Renegades of Gor: Gorean Saga, Book 23

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By John Norman
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (5)

    The maritime ubarate of Cos, with her allies, is mounting an attack on Ar on two fronts, from the south with a major invasion force, and in the north with an expeditionary force besieging Ar's Station, Ar's base of power in the vast arable basin of Gor's mightiest river, the Vosk. Dietrich of Tarnburg, a mercenary, has seized Torcodino in the south, with its stores of military supplies, to temporarily halt the march of Cos on Ar, to buy Ar time to organize for her defense.

    Bruce says: "In which Tarl Cabot visits Ar's Station"
    "In which Tarl Cabot visits Ar's Station"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the first part of two novels, Renegades and Vagabonds. Renegades was not available in audio for a while and I skipped both, having read them years ago, and went on with "Magicians." Once I was caught up with Tarl's adventures in "Mariners," I went back and bought "Renegades" and then listened to them in the right order. I believe the author insisted that they be released unedited and there are some really distasteful Rape comments, (particualarly on in Vagabonds about 15 hours in) that just were not appropriate (my strong opinion) in a work of Fiction. I suspect this is what got him in trouble, cost him his publisher, and ended up in a blacklisting and lecture tour on censorship. I don't think it is Censorship, just editing. This is fiction, and some of the retorical digressions are not even in character. Any editor would have redlined them. I'd have refused to publish Vagabonds with the rape on EARTH passage in it. (It is otherwise a great book.) Just yell "I am quite aware of that..." or "Shut Up!" and ignore these passages. Tarl's journey through Ar's Station, the Vosk Delta, and onward is a turning point in his life and the story is well worth your time. This is a good story and should be read in the right order. Don't go on to Magicians unless you have read this book, and Vagabonds.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mariners of Gor: Gorean Saga, Book 30

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By John Norman
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (6)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    Many on Gor do not believe that the great ship, the ship of Tersites, the lame, scorned, half-blind, half-mad shipwright, originally of Port Kar exists. Surely it is a matter of no more than legend. In the previous audiobook, however, SWORDSMEN OF GOR, we learn that the great ship, was secretly built in the northern forests, and brought down the Alexandra to Thassa, the sea, beginning her voyage to the "World's End," hazarding waters beyond the "farther islands," from which no previous ship had returned.

    Bruce says: "In which we are told a tale of Ships and Far Shore"
    "In which we are told a tale of Ships and Far Shore"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Our Narrator is not Tarl Cabot here, but Tarl is very much present in this story. This is a return to what I expect of a Gor Novel, thorns and all. I loved it, I loved the different narrator, and understand why it was necessary. Comments on the story would all be spoilers,but Tarl Cabot ends going on a grand adventure to the Ends of the World. Enjoy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Spider's Bite: Elemental Assassin, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Jennifer Estep
    • Narrated By Lauren Fortgang
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2814)
    Performance
    (2172)
    Story
    (2181)

    They call me the Spider. I'm the most feared assassin in the South -- when I'm not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don't use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.

    Brian Rygaard Jensen says: "How I got to loathe the story"
    "Popular, but not for me. Poor Writing."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This book is badly written and though popular, I gave up and do not intend to finish it. I've read all this before, nothing new, and the writing can't possibly have gotten past any serious editor. It may get better, but I will never know. There are so many good books, and this, in my opinion, is just a re-hash of other people's ideas. Try Nancy Collins if you want to read this done well.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Vagabonds of Gor: Gorean Saga, Book 24

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By John Norman
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (4)

    In Vagabonds of Gor, book 24 of the Gorean Saga, Cabot, and his friend, Marcus, of Ar's Station, who have been spying for Ar in the Cosian encampments, now seek the long-inert forces of Ar, to report acquired intelligence to their commander, Saphronicus, who proves to be of the treasonous party of Ar. Cabot and Marcus are placed under arrest, as spies. Primary forces of Ar, largely inactive in recent months, are now to pursue Cosian forces withdrawing from Ar's Station, through the vast Vosk delta to the sea.

    Bruce says: "Incomplete Without Renegades."
    "Incomplete Without Renegades."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Vagabonds and Renegades are dependent on each other and Renegades was not released until recently in Audio Form. Both should be read before Magicians. These books are the true turning point in the story and with out both it would be hard to continue reading the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kur of Gor: Gorean Saga, Book 28

    • UNABRIDGED (28 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By John Norman
    • Narrated By Ralph Lister
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    John Norman's epic Gorean Saga is one of the longest-running and most successful series in the history of fantasy. It is also one of the most controversial. Over the course of more than 30 books produced over a span of six decades, the series has sold millions of copies and built legions of fans unrivaled in their devotion. You are invited to rediscover this brilliantly imagined world where men are masters and women live to serve their every desire.

    Bruce says: "In which Tarl Cabot learns much of the Kurii"
    "In which Tarl Cabot learns much of the Kurii"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    In which Tarl Cabot learns much of the Kurii and obtains a Kajira and a sleen.

    Wow, so much story, so little rhetoric. One does not need to read “Prize of Gor” to enjoy this book. I can’t review “Kur” very well without spoilers so I’ll just do brief “book jacket teaser”

    Kur of Gor, in which we hear a tale told by an unknown, probably Kur, narrator: Tarl Cabot runs afoul of agents of the Priest Kings who have outlawed him for his rescue of Half-Ear the Kur War General in the Gorean North. As is expected of those who once shared Paga, the favor is returned and Tarl learns much of the Kurii, obtains a slave, a sleen, makes friends, and has many grand adventures.

    The narration style is coherent, not head-hopping 1st to 3rd confusion like “Prize,” and justified because Tarl could not have written this story down. The “Narrator” allows Tarl to tell most of the story in his usual style, but he tells the story and influences it with his viewpoint. It does occasionally cross the line where the Narrator knows what Tarl is thinking, something he could not know, but it is done well enough that it doesn’t bother me at all.

    “Kur” is mostly adventure, and a real delight. This was written in 2009 long after the blacklisting issue was behind the author. He returns to his main character in all his introspective, brooding self-analysis, and introduces many new characters and ideas.

    NOTE: He does attempt, rather stumblingly in my opinion, to address the RAPE issues in “Prize.” In his (via Tarl) own words, “One can not refute nonsense.“ He fails to make any real rhetorical point but does not re-offend and drops the subject much to my relief. I’m apposed to censorship. “Prize” must stand as it is, but one does not need to read it to continue. “Prize” can be skipped or skimmed if you have hard copy or one can jump from chapter to chapter in the audio book. It is torture and other then buying a copy to own the entire series, there is nothing to recommend one bother with it at all. If you skip “Prize,” and I recommend that you do, the issues one needs to know are hardly spoilers. I suggest that one skip listening to Prize and continue with this book, but buying “Prize” to complete the set would not be a mistake. If you are going to read “Prize,” please DO NOT READ the final paragraph.

    “Kur of Gor” is a return to Tarl Cabot’s adventures, well written, and with more adventure then rhetoric. I really enjoyed it. *Stop Here if you are going to read “Prize of Gor.”

    ***** Not Spoilers, but if you are going to read “Prize of Gor” you may want to stop reading here. **************************************************************

    We learn in “Prize” that: The Priest Kings are once again active and in control of their technology. The Delta Brigade continues their partisan operations in Ar with little assistance from the “Large Peasant with Amnesia.” They have begun to attempt to use financial leverage on the Mercenaries who compose a great deal of Cos’ forces occupying Ar. Janice is happy and living in Ar. A Kajira is still masquerading as Ubara. There are Kurii now involving themselves with the Cos/Ar conflict on Gor.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Prize of Gor: Gorean Saga, Book 27

    • UNABRIDGED (31 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By John Norman
    • Narrated By Tabitha Marley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (8)
    Story
    (8)

    Ellen is a beautiful young slave girl on the planet Gor. Yet she was not always thus. For nearly 60 years she was a woman of Earth, but life had largely passed her by. Then, following an apparently chance encounter at the opera with a strangely familiar young man, she finds herself transported from Earth to Gor. Here she discovers the true identity of her kidnapper and his sinister motives. She is given a strange drug that reverses the aging process, turning back time itself, and once again she's the beautiful young woman she remembers from years before, so long ago.

    Bruce says: "Feed this book to the Sleen"
    "Feed this book to the Sleen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If this angry book is the reason that John Norman got blacklisted then it makes a little more sense to me. The Author is a highly educated man, a career educator, and this is a badly written book. The English/Gorean translation style goes out the window. Essays are spliced in. There are sections of narration repeated almost verbatim all through the book.

    In a couple books, Tarl deals with the concept of Rape as it applies to Slave Girls. It is difficult to read, but marginally possible to rationalize. It would be something he would have to try and come to grips with, and he does so very awkwardly. In this book Rape and Gang Rape are treated as a sexual acts as apposed to a crime of violence. Even if the author wanted those scenes in the book, as acts of violence, a fade to black would have been appropriate. Rape was used as a weapon of war on in reality, particularly in WWII. But that does not seem to be the reason here. It just happens and it made me ill. This author KNOWS that rape is a crime of violence, and rape by strangers, gang rape by strangers is not something I want to read about. There is no excuse for this, Norman knows better, and he crossed the line here in a big way. There are logical errors, plot holes, characters acting in a way that is so unusual that it is hard to suspend one’s disbelief. The protagonist is so unpredictable that she comes across to me as being completely insane. It is impossible to care about her, and her dialog regresses, contradicts, and sometimes makes no sense at all.

    I would not have published this book. It would have been not be censorship, it would be refusing to sell a defective product to a consumer who has waited a long time to find out what happens next. We don’t. It can’t be re-edited, it is a hopeless waste of words. This book consists of 30 hours of dialog, and perhaps 3 short scenes that are interesting, and perhaps 3 pages worth of advancement of the story line. It is an angry, badly written diatribe. I would love to write a synopsis of the plot so nobody has to plod through this mess. It would consist of no more then 4 paragraphs, that is all there was in 30 hours of non stop rambling that mattered. The characters argue about sex while being chased by enemy troops. The new characters are almost identical, it is hard to tell any of them apart, and their motivations are never made clear. The author has published his own papers under his real name. That is the appropriate way to do what he attempts to do here. He contradicts himself, makes actual factual errors in biology, changes narration styles randomly, and for the first time, some Gorean men are portrayed as borderline psychopathic sadists. Love, usually a common theme is derided and treated as an unimportant superficial issue. There is no soul to this book, just vitriol. There are virtually no LIKABLE characters, and the highlight of the book is a visit by Janice from Witness. If Kur of Gor is like this, I’m done with the series. I don’t think it will be. If you decide to read this book, feel free to scream “Feed her to Sleen!” I did about 50 times.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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