In this book, Theo Waitley meets and pilots Bechimo, a fabulous self-aware space ship of artificial intelligence, created centuries before by "The Builders" of mysterious origin.
Theo and Bechimo engage weapons, battling the evil Department of the Interior. The DoI wants Theo AND her amazing Ghost Ship, Bechimo. Theo and her AI ship slowly develop trust in each other, with some bumps along the road. Sometimes amusing little spats, as Bechimo is unsocialized, having been alone and in hiding for centuries.
Theo pilots her Ghost Ship to planet Surebleak. Clan Korval has arrived and Jelaza Kazone (sentient, ancient, wizardly tree) is sinking its roots in, influencing the micro-climate. Surebleak citizens welcome Boss Conrad's kin, who promise to maintain an open Port Road. Wild, lawless Surebleak is adjusting to a more benign form of leadership, and most folks welcome Boss Conrad's government style, but change is difficult, and Korval must deal with sabotage and even worse. Nelirikk gets to leap into action, along with Val Con, Theo, Daav, etc. Of course, the treacherous DoI is at work here.
On Surebleak, Bechimo meets the AI butler, Jeeves (good scene) and eventually gains a co-pilot. Now, with three on board, the interaction gets more interesting. Soon a fourth crew member boards..
A third plot thread takes place on Planet Vandar, with Val Con and Nelirikk. This section of the story is brief. There is a short story that elaborates on it, called Prodigal Son.
The POV changes too much. Sometimes before you can turn a page. It's frustrating.
The story ends on a major cliffhanger, involving Daav yos'Phelium and Uncle. This book and the next book (Dragon Ship) and the next book (Necessity's Child) collectively go almost nowhere. It's an interesting and sometimes highly entertaining journey, walking in circles, but compared to the plot of Tolkien's trilogy, these three books are meandering indeed.
Oh, and a baby is born. Sweet. Several sweet scenes with Tree, too.
Narrated by Eileen Stevens. The narrator is okay, for the most part. I have no real complaints, but several quibbles. I do want to defend Stevens, though: She does not make Miri sound like she is laughing all the time, as one reviewer states, but she does put a chuckle into her voice quite often. When the topic is serious, however, Miri does not sound merry. Personally, I liked Steven's take on Miri.
I agree with said reviewer's statement that male voices sound quieter than female voices, so one must sometimes adjust the volume. In general, male voices sound muffled, like a female trying to sound gruff.
Stevens pronounces Bechimo this way: Besh--ee--mo, emphasizing the middle syllable, ee, giving it a French sound. Personally, I would say Beck'-uh-mo, rhyming Bech with Tech, with stress on Beck. But who knows?
She mispronounced the French word "frisson" (she said something very like "freeze on").
For the word "mercenaries" shortened to "mercs", she says the short form like this: merce. I have never heard the short form pronounced merce, as in "mercy." Whenever I have heard it, it rhymes with "jerks" — people say "merks" — even though mercenary has the soft Ss sound for c. But again, who knows?
This book was originally published in 1977, in part to counteract the horrible animal experiments done in the name of progress at an infamous laboratory in England. The lab in the book is based on a real lab, Lawsen Park -- a converted farm, also known by the acronym ARSE (Animal Research, Scientific Aand Experimental), aka "Buttocks" (hehe).
The story is good but not great (grim and so sad at times, with tortured animals, mauled sheep, etc). Only one decent human character. A fairly promising ending, though.
Basically, this is the story of two dogs, Rowf and Snitter, who escape that torturous laboratory and flee across country. Starving, and terrified of "the white coats" they go feral. Become cynical. Bitter. A sly red fox (the tod) helps them for a while. Digby Diver, a journalist, exploits their suffering for a headline. He writes that they are carrying bubonic plague. Everyone hunts them. Snitter's kind owner looks for him.
Cosham's narration, while flawless, is difficult to understand at times, because the fox speaks in a dialect like cockney. Also, I didn't care for the rhyming passages. For me, this book is best read, rather than heard.
I do love Richard Adams. Watership Down is a big fave, superbly narrated by Ralph Cosham.
Good narration. Great story. A tale of new beginnings for several characters, a soul-searching character-making shake-down, and bone-deep loyalty and friendship. It's a mystery plot, a "who done it" with minor elements of science-fiction (the memory chip, embedded in Simon's brain for decades). I quickly guessed who the villain was, but loved the scenes where Miles set the culprit up to reveal his true colors.
Characters: Miles Vorkosigan, Simon Illyan, chief of Imperial Security (Imp Sec) at planet Barrayar. Various employees at ImpSec. Lady Alyce Vorpatril. Ivan Vorpatril, and several others.
I chuckled several times, mostly at the untrained butler / chauffeur.
Miles takes a trip to his country estate. Wonderful fishing scene.
Miles also goes back to see the hill folk in the Dendarii Mountains, to pay his respects to the baby's grave (relates to scenes from the prequel, Mountains of Mourning).
Oh, and this is where Miles gets his fantastic cook.
Expect just the slightest bit of romance for more than one couple.
The background noises made it sometimes impossible to understand (or even hear) the words. I believe this is the full sound track from the History Channel television program, including the noises of battles, horses, mobs, and the musical backdrop. The words are clearly discernible only when the background noises stop, but then they start up again. So, on-and-off, the various noises drown the words.
Superb narration. Flawless. Decent story -- the first of a series, each featuring one of four orphaned Scottish sisters and riffing a Shakespearean play. This one, alluding to Much Ado About Nothing, is witty, sweet, funny, and explicitly smexy, but the pace is slow at times. Starts getting good after the half-way point. Totally loved the hero, Lucius, and his horse-whispering wife, Tess. Not crazy about the moonstruck sister, Imogen. Wish the author had reduced her role in the story.
We all know the movie -- or most of us. The book differs only slightly. Donna Tartt's performance astounded my husband and I. This narration just felt right. A perfect match for the book and the movies. I had to keep reminding myself that this is not an autobiography, despite the factualized first-person POV of young Mattie Ross. It's fiction! Hats off to Charles Portis.
Emma Messenger's sublime narration rendered this 1847 British classic even more beautiful. This is truly a flawless performance.
As for the text, well, what can anyone say? Jane Eyre is a gothic romance, but also the autobiographical yet fictional story of Jane, her joyless childhood at Gateshead with the miserable Reed family, her grim schooling at Lowood with the unjust Mr. Brocklehurst, her position as governess to Adele, her wonderful soul-mating bond with the Byronic vulcan, Edward Rochester...and...the rest of the story. Beautiful ending, with a heartwarming and deeply satisfying HEA (happy ever after).
This novel moves me on several levels, as a stirring romance, of course, but also as a character sketch, a tribute to Jane's courage, integrity, spiritualism, and self-containment.
Charlotte Brontë was ahead of her time, portraying proto-feminism and self-determination when most women were powerless.
Peter Rabbit is one of my childhood favorites, and Emma Messenger only makes it better. Loved how she draws out the words when this "naughty" rabbit is stuck under the fence. How she portrays him panting, and losing hope. Excellent performance, good pace, clear and comprehensible. Should be easy for children to visualize the story, picturing Farmer McGregor, the encouraging birds, the "good" bunnies at home under the tree.
Beatrix Potter. Famous British author, illustrator, and naturalist. A century ago, she really had a mischievous rabbit named Peter, according to the official BP website. He napped in front of her fireplace on a blue blanket. Hence, his fictional facsimile wears a blue jacket.
Well, he did have a blue jacket, until today, when he got caught stealing greens in Mr. McGregor's garden.
I love this narrator. Could listen to him read the phonebook. As for the story and the series, Lee and Miller have created enjoyable, frustrating, highly improbable featherweight science fiction / space opera, with the focus on relationships and characterization.
This story — another frivolous space-opera — appealed to me, even though the 3rd-person POV hops around like a drunken spacer, the protagonist is a teenager, and the pace is slow at times.
This story has nothing to do with Clan Korval and occurs 1000+ years after the prequel, *Crystal Dragon* and is not set on planet Liad. It opens on planet Terra, which seems to be a new Earth, revised in a new universe. Liadens play a large role.
Balance of Trade portrays the admirable Jethri Gobelyn, a 17-year old "spacer" from planet Terra. All Jethri wants to do is travel the galaxy, trading goods and making his fortune, but mommy dearest is a dream buster, big time.
However, a savvy Liaden trader, Norn ven'Deelin of Clan Ixin, notes Jethri's integrity (melant'i) and takes him under her wing. We see him learn the rather elitist Liaden culture, including how to interpret and enact specific types of highly nuanced bows. (Liadens are similar to the Japanese, small of stature and concerned with maintaining honor).
We also see our spacer learn self defense and become accustomed to gravity, mud, sweat, vineyards, and mountains. As the plot twists, he'll need to know how to fight, in full gravity.
There is no romance in this book, but you get the feeling Jethri and Miandra (a healer, a dramliza wizard) might make a go of it, someday. Several action scenes with the cat, Flinx.
The suspense plots are fairly obscure, and will probably be a challenge for readers who know nothing of the "Befores" or "fractins" or "The Uncle" and other plot threads. Refer to the glossary at the end of the *Crystal Variation* trilogy — not included in this Audiobook.
Bottom line on this book? Good story, but as far as I can tell, nothing occurs in *Balance of Trade* that relates to the entire series.
Excellent narration. Kevin T. Collins is great!
Space Opera, set on Planet Surebleak. Much MUCH richer as part of the Liaden Series, but comprehensible as a stand alone. One of my favorites in the series, even though the chief protagonists are only about 12 years old. These two kids outwit school-yard bullies and deadly Agents of Change. No magical dramliza to save the day (which gets boring). Instead, Nova's fierce and honorable son Syl Vor (aka "Young Dragon") must duke it out.
He's a fabulous character, a little lonely, at times bored, and striving to overcome his recent nightmare experiences on Runig's Rock, when he was hiding from merciless killers while protecting newborn twins. He's smart, stubbornly tenacious, sweet, and sometimes still adorably child-like.
Is the plot improbable? Yes, but not nearly as fantastical as most books in the series.
Secondary characters from the series include Ren Zel, Anthora, Tree, Pat Rin, Miri, Val Con, Daav, Shan, Padi, and Mr. Shaper, the neighbor. Nova plays a big role, but the others get only bit parts.
We see plenty of Syl Vor, the tween-ager, and his new friend Kezzi, a delightful girl of the romany-like Bedel People. She is training to be a healer and seer. Together, they confound bullies and killer-spies.
The scenes showing how Syl Vor and Kezzi became "friends" are a hoot!
Content: One sex scene involving M/F adults, some violence, death. No profanity.
The narration is decent.
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