After 13 hrs I gave up.
Maybe it is just the book isn’t for me, but I couldn’t find anything to sympathise with in any of the characters. The plot seemed to be more melodrama, or if not that, then “stock”; predictable, mechanical devices to drive the narrative. Action often doesn’t fit well with the development of the characters who act; the extent of the internal dialogue doesn’t match up with the impetuousness, thoughtlessness, or foolishness; mechanical devices.
Set in the last quarter of the 19th century, against the Franco-Prussian War and the French in the Sahara, the period should be fascinating, but it is never really a “character”.
The strength of the book is in the descriptions of physical details … Paris, action, the desert, etc; the physical aspects of the characters.
“…over the summer the moat became ever more elaborate, winding in a grand circle around the tree, with bridges made of branches where one had to give the password. And on the bottom of the moat were carefully arranged patches of rocks that—if you looked just the right way at them—became crocodiles that ate trespassers, tax collectors, and knights of the evil kingdom …”
The other strength, for me, was the reader.
The style of the writing, in audio book form, seemed to owe something to that of “The Count of Monte Cristo.”; but without that story’s heart.
It didn’t help that the description on the Audible site includes a spoiler … “…follows the lives of two cousins who are raised as brothers but destined to become enemies …”; I guess it’s somewhere in the other 13hrs.
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