Wow. What a great book! If you haven't heard of this yet, are you in for a treat. This was one of the first of the Watchmen-type superhero books, funny and smart and well-written. The readers are first-rate, as well, and it's a pleasure to spend the time listening to this. My only regret is that his new book isn't available yet!
I was blown away by this series. Abercrombie has created these characters that I've had arguments with friends about: Is Glokta evil? What's the importance of Ardie West? How significant is speaking with spirits? I deeply cared what happened to all of these people, and I sped through all three books, amazed to see how things fell out. I guarantee you you won't expect the end of Book 3.
Steven Pacey's performance is the fourth wall of this magnificent edifice, though. I could tell you which character was speaking without any clues from the text, his feel for voice is so good. When I finished this series, I went looking for more Abercrombie books; I also went looking for more narration by Pacey. He's amazingly good.
There's nothing not to like here: it's a fantastic story, compellingly told and perfectly read.
In City of Torment, the characters from Plague of Spells gain even more depth and complexity as we learn more about their histories and motives. The story moves along at a good pace, as Japeth takes desperate risks to save Anusha and Raidon Kane does what he does best: fights to save the world. John Pruden really hits the right notes, as well. He's an excellent dialog reader, and gives each character a distinct and believable voice.
The Newsflesh trilogy is a perfect example of what audiobooks do really well: take great books and bring them right into your head in three dimensions. Mira Grant (who also writes as Seanan McGuire, in case you want to check out her other work) hits a nerve with this story of a horror that's become everyday reality, and the political corruption that it seems can't ever be killed. If you think things can't get any crazier than they are in the first book, wow, are YOU in for a surprise!
A huge part of what makes this such an excellent audible experience, of course, are the readers. Throughout all three books, all of the readers are first-rate. It's amazing (and surreal) to hear the female reader doing the male character's voice as her character thinks of what her brother said, and later hearing the male reader doing the sister's voice. If they can pull THAT off, imagine how well they do everything else. Seriously, these books are full of win from the first minute through the last.
There are a lot of great reviews here about the Iron Druid Chronicles, which are very enjoyable formula fantasy. I don't think Hearne knows how to write women, but that's a small quibble. What I really want to let you know, though, is what a fantastic reader Luke Daniels is. I'll be hearing the way he does Oberon every time I imagine what a dog wants to say, for years. He really brings life to the characters, and adds a sense of momentum to the narrative. I'll be looking for other books he's narrated.
I LOVE this book. It's a great stand-alone fantasy title, and it doesn't matter whether you've read any other books it the series or even if you know what Forgotten Realms is, there's a lot to enjoy. The plot has enough curves to keep me wondering how it's going to work out, and I'm a huge fan of the number of really strong female characters in the book. I think this may be my favorite Bruce Cordell novel.
But, sadly, the reader is ruining it for me. This guy just can't do voices, and shouldn't even try. With the exception of the dwarf (who, to give the reader credit, I think he nails), every other character, male or female, sounds exactly the same: like a crotchety old woman. It's driving me crazy. And why can't he pronounce the names of people and places the same way every time? There's a pronunciation guide in the back of the book, for crying out loud, you'd think he could figure out whether the place is "DUR-per," "DUR-PAR," or "dur-PAR" (the last one is correct, although you'd never be able to guess from listening). One of the main characters' names is Iahn, pronounced "Ian" --- not "Yan." OK, I could live with hearing the reader say "Celestial NAY-DEER" a hundred times (isn't it "nay-DEER"?), and even with "Yan," but I'm having a really hard time with everybody sounding like an old lady who needs a nap.
Please, do us all a favor, and don't ask this reader to do anything else involving dialogue.
The reader, Gideon Emery, was perfect for this book, and the material was a fascinating blend of Lovecraftian tropes, computer technical geekery, and the application of over-the-top spycraft.
And damn it if the interpersonal relationships didn't have extraordinarily satisfying arcs! Stross's characters have really begun to feel like real people in the best possible way.
This has me slavering to hear the previous Laundry book, also read by Emery. I hope you've got Emery already producing the Fuller Memorandum, now that I'm on the topic, because if you can't tell, I think Stross, the Laundry books, and Emergy are a winning combo.
Only a few positive things to say about this book. The readers were all fantastic. It was because of their strength I made it through this book.
The concept of the character Dorn was very compelling.
However, overall, this book seemed sort of pointless, like a denouement that stretched out to cover a book, telling us things we already probably knew or could have guessed.
The contortions of the plot to bring in the Artifact seemed pointless, and a mere aside to where the story was trying to go. It takes an alien artifact to achieve such transformations of thought?
Anyhow, I hunger for good hard sci-fi to show up here on Audible--but this one is a little dated. Let's get some more Egan or Stross, or authors of the generation after Bova here, who have embraced current trends and extrapolate them into their stories. Get these fabulous readers on a book by Alastair Reynolds. How exciting is that idea?
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