None of the subsequent books in this series have lived up to the considerable promise of the first volume, "Here There Be Dragons". Unfortunately, this book is poorly written and confusing. Too bad, because for lovers of fantasy there was a lot of unfulfilled potential here. Don't waste your time.
Suitable for the material, but not compelling.
I'm less ecstatic about this book than many of the other reviewers. It read like a cross between a technical manual, a space opera, and a comic book. I found the many characters two-dimensional and uninteresting (mostly because we never get into them very deeply). The book lacked most of things I really enjoy in novels---complex, vital, original, and compelling characters who change and develop; rich descriptions of the surroundings; and a satisfying and surprising story line. I found the story predictable.
While I admired Mark Watney, the main character, an astronaut stranded on Mars, for his resilience, cleverness, sense of humor, problem solving ability, and dogged determination to survive, he still never totally came alive for me as a flesh-and-blood person. In part, this is because we never really learn much about him other than how he responds to various crises he must handle. Most of the book is a step-by-step (and very technical) description of his resolution of various (apparently insurmountable) problems of surviving on Mars; and of others' attempts to help him. Somehow, it's emotionally flat, like reading a manual about how to assemble a vacuum cleaner.
Still, the author came up with an interesting scenario and has an extensive knowledge of space engineering. So, either he works for NASA himself or has done a lot of research. Also, I liked his upbeat view of humanity (which is either optimistic or naive, depending on how you look at it).
This book came highly recommended. But I could not finish it. I got to the next-to-last chapter and gave up. I found the narration really grating---alternately monotonous and histrionic. The characters' voices were awful. There were good things about the book, particularly the period setting in 19th century London and the depiction of the artists and poets of the time, especially the Rossettis. But the narration really grated and honestly the story became more and more implausible and difficult to follow as it went on. I realize this is fantasy, but even in a fantasy novel there has to be some logical plot developement.
Just about everything.
No...this was an exceptionally bad book
Absolutely not. His flamboyant, pretentious, hystrionic reading distracted from the story and didn't enhance it at all.
Boredom and annoyance.
This was recommended on a prominent science fiction podcast. There's no accounting for taste.
No. There were compelling characters, but the story fell down and the ending was unsatisfying. Also there was a lot of gratuitous sex (i.e., sex scenes that did nothing to propel the story forward and were just there for the sensationalism). There was lots of violence also, although most of the violence was muted.
Even in a fantasy world, the plot has to have a certain logic. It didn't. There were holes in the plot so big you could have driven a truck through. Also there were many loose ends that were never tied up.
Well, there's sex, violence, and romance. All that Hollywood needs for a B grade movie.
This was such a promising book, but so disappointing. There were scenes and turns of phrase that were wonderful, but overall the book didn't hold together.
This a haunting, dark fairy tale. It's beautifully written and beautifully read. The book is filled with details which awaken all of the senses. For example, the Night Circus is usually described as smelling of smoke and caramel. In simple but powerful prose the author delineates a unique world. It's a magic circus which is only open at night and in which everything is colored black and white. A love story and competition between two magicians is a central part of the story, but around this main tale revolve other sideshows populated by fascinating and vivid characters with strange names. Most of the story takes place in North America and Europe at the turn of the century. The historical setting--in the past, but not the distant past--adds to the exotic appeal of the novel.
What's not to like? The prose is compelling, the sensory details are intoxicating. The central romance is appealing and dramatic. The characters are fascinating.
It's difficult to pinpoint my favorite character, as most of them were extremely colorful and eccentric. But I probably liked the Murray twins, Poppet and Widget, the best. The Irish accents Jim Dale gave them seemed very appropriate. By the way, he was the perfect reader for this novel.
Yes, I was hooked. I couldn't put it down until it was done.
I gave the story four stars instead of five because the ending somehow seemed a bit contrived. But other than that, it is a masterpiece. I just don't get the negative reviews. Did they read the same book as I did?
The underlying premise of the book is laughable and there are plot holes big enough to drive a truck through. Still, I gave it 3 stars instead of 2 because some of the characters are interesting (although a number of them are--perhaps deliberately--drawn as cartoonish caricatures). Also, Neal Stephenson is one of the few male authors who does female characters well. However, I'm not certain why this book is so highly recommended.
George R.R. Martin keeps outdoing himself. This was perhaps the best book in his superb series "A Song of Fire and Ice". It's an enormous epic fantasy. The characters are absolutely real and believable. The world he creates has so many rich details that it comes completely to life. It's a world that can be brutal and tragic like the Middle Ages it emulates. But at the end of the day, the phenomenal story telling and compelling characters keep the reader hooked. Even the supposed villains are sometimes portrayed as very sympathetic people. And Roy Datrice's marvelous narration lives up to the standard set by the writing. But this is a fantasy for adults, not children. Its world can be harsh and its characters lewd, cruel, and untrustworthy, as in real life. This isn't a world viewed through rose colored glasses. Nevertheless, there are also many episodes of heroism, loyalty and nobility. 40 hours of spellbinding listening.
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