Joe has written one of the darkest fantasy stories I've read to date... the world is gritty and dark... its characters are gritty and dark... and the story is more of the same. It was fairly typical of modern storytelling (which cost him a star) but the characters were brilliant (which will likely have me listening again).
GREAT characters, deep (though not particularly subtle) and photo-realistically communicated. Joe took the typical fantasy archetypes and added another dimension to each of them... asking the question 'what would a REAL barbarian hero, or noble brat, or centuries old conjurer act (and THINK) like?'
Great character separation, delivered solid performances on some challenging 'damaged' characters. A great voice performance doesn't draw attention to itself... and this was a great performance.
'Say one thing about Joe Abercrombie, say he's got a few things he could teach George RR Martin about dark fantasy'
Don't listen to the 'ending critics'. The book ended perfectly fine. After reading the reviews I was expecting some horrible open ending (like HBO ends every series they've ever made)... and Joe ties this up as neatly and cleanly as this story demands (nearly as good as it could be). Of course this story demands a messy ending, so don't blame Joe for delivering... but all the primary plotlines are properly concluded, so have no fear and buy the series.
(mild spoilers) I bought this book without really looking into the story (which turned out to be a good thing)... and when I realized one of the major characters was a cop I though "Oh crap". Cop stories bore me... I avoid them like the plague. Then we find out that the antagonist is an 'EVIL CORPORATION' and my eyes were rolling.. can you get more cliché? At that point I'm pretty sure the book will be terrible... but then... the Pièce de résistance... zombies... the most played out theme in the last 10 years. So by all measurable metrics I should hate this book... but I just couldn't. Sure the cop is a cop and does some of the boring cop things - but pretty soon he's not a cop... and he's doing all sorts of interesting things. And the Evil Corporation is pretty stereotypical evil corporation... but Corey makes it more about the human choices behind the scenes rather than creating a 'corporate boogeyman'. And zombies... well they're shambling around but the story doesn't revolve around them, they're a sideshow. What is central to the story is a core group of characters who are interesting, conflicted, often at odds... in a universe full of uncertainty and danger... basically the ingredients for a good tale. Well done.
I'm always hesitant to start reading or listening to a new Author... seems I'm disappointed more often than not. I'm only about 4 hours into Blood Song but I find that I now have a new Author on my "just buy it" list. Wonderful characters who are complex and varied and developing nicely... classic Epic Fantasy framework in the works but that's not always a bad thing. It's been years (Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series I think) since I've been so impressed so quickly with a new author.
not based on this novel... definitely based on the first three
fill plot holes and technical inconsistencies
skip this novel... the first three are independent and MUCH better. I ended up fast forwarding over large parts of this one... silly tech gaps clearly needed to make the plot work.
More dynamic reading, improved story, more interesting characters, more consistent technology... and more.
The abject stupidity of the human characters... worrying about taking GUNS in to face a species that's Millennia beyond you technologically!? NOBODY is that dumb... and that's just one example. If I'd been the super advanced species watching the humans bluder stupidly around my sphere, I'd have told them "ahh... on second thought..."
I'd have just told her to use a bit more vocal range in her performance, I felt like I was listening to the female equivelant of the teacher on Ferris Buelers day off... "Bueler... Bueller..."
Needs a massive overhaul... there's not any one scene that's problematic.
I've completed my first pass through O'Brian's universe and have just gotten to HMS Suprise on my second run through. This series is one of the few I've read/listened to that virtually REQUIRES multiple readings... the richness of the story make it as enjoyable now as the first time. I don't know if I could add anything to the many great reviews I've read of the various novels in the series... so I'll just add that it's every bit as brilliant as the consensus suggests, read (or listen to) just one of the novels and you'll find yourself greedily devouring the second... third... fourth... then looking back with regret that Patrick wasn't able to finish just one more (or two... or three).
As far as the two narrators... I have an almost even split between the two and while Tull has a wonderful breadth of accents that clearly delineate the various characters, Vance has amazing skill at conveying emotion... both broader and more subtle than Tull. When Jack yells "SURPRISE!!!" for the first time... I'm glad it was Vance's performance (the second pass thorough... I broke out into a HUGE smile, having the cheek to feel I've gotten to know Jack over the last 6 months or so - the time it took me to get through the first pass). Interestingly, my first O'Brian novels were Tull and when I got the Vance version of HMS Surprise I was initially very turned off by his very formal English... but by the end of the book I'd become as happy with his reading as with Tull's, but for different reasons. Vance's Aubrey is my favorite, but I like Tull's support characters (Killeck especially). I'm glad I bought some of both performers.
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