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Amazon Customer

I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.

ratings
247
REVIEWS
171
FOLLOWING
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FOLLOWERS
51
HELPFUL VOTES
343

  • Pavane

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By Keith Roberts
    • Narrated By Steven Crossley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (273)
    Performance
    (244)
    Story
    (245)

    Considered Keith Roberts' masterwork, this novel consists of linked short stories (six measures and a coda) of a 20th century in which the Roman Catholic Church controls the Western world, and has done so since Queen Elizabeth of England was assassinated in 1588. The Protestant Reformation never happened, and the world is kept in a Dark Age of steam-power transportation, with no allowance for electrical power, by a tyrannical Rome.

    Betty says: "Dense & rich - not a light listen"
    "It's the Characters that Outline the World"
    Overall
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    Neil Gaiman Presents, and George R.R. Martin praises it right on the cover. Two powerhouse names like that can't be wrong when they stand in agreement, and it's that very reason I selected this book. These are names I trust.

    This is an older novel and reads like one, but that's certainly no turn-off. What's a bit jarring is the format and presentation. A Pavane is a style of music, and the format was presented in here in literary form as 6 movements and a coda. The basic idea is that this is an alternate history where Queen Elizabeth I was assassinated, and in the mid-20th century, the Roman Catholic Church is still in supreme dominance as a result of having killed the Reformation. It's a steampunk styled world ruled by superstition and fear, but far more authentic feeling than most steampunk. It feels less like fantasy and more like a legitimate alternate reality. Sounds epic, right? Yes and no. You don't get an epic here. What you get is a personal account. Each of the stories contained here link one to the next through the eyes of the characters. Instead of a big worldview epoch, you get a human quality to the world as these people see it - what it's like to live in this world from within a few different walks of life, with the same emotions, strengths, and frailties that people are prone to have in our world as well. It's a master class in characterization. As a result, it burns slow, but it burns evenly, as surely as a higher quality candle. It doesn't illuminate the entire world, but it does illuminate the corners of it we visit through these characters, and it casts larger shadows of suggestion into that world. It definitely leaves you wanting more. More's the pity that there is no more save for what we take from the suggestive nature of asking the two most powerful words in the English language: "What if...?"

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • The Complete Sherlock Holmes: The Heirloom Collection

    • UNABRIDGED (58 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    Overall
    (297)
    Performance
    (279)
    Story
    (284)

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes tales are rightly ranked among the seminal works of mystery and detective fiction. Included in this collection are all four full-length Holmes novels and more than forty short masterpieces - from the inaugural adventure A Study in Scarlet to timeless favorites like “The Speckled Band” and more. At the center of each stands the iconic figure of Holmes - brilliant, eccentric, and capable of amazing feats of deductive reasoning.

    Santa Fe Painter says: "A Table of Contents & Audible Part/Chapter Notes"
    "The Original. Still the Best."
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    I grew up on Sherlock Holmes. I have raided these stories countless times over my life, and I've compared them endlessly to the pastiches, knock-offs, parodies, and various screen and radio adaptations. This is no small feat, considering that perhaps only Dracula rivals the Great Detective in sheer amounts of spin-off material. As a result, I am going to be unabashedly biased here and just say this straight out:

    You will not find a better audio version of these works anywhere, and the only competition this collection has is the print equivalent. For a single credit? This is more than a bargain; it's a steal.

    This is Holmes and Watson, in their original forms, as products of their time and place, unabashedly Victorian and ahead of their time right from the outset, regardless of how many religious groups or racist cults they anger in the process. There is nothing remotely politically correct about them, and in the case of Holmes himself, it would be completely against his abrasive character to be toned down. The result is that you get some screwball historical curiosity mixed in with the otherwise astounding adventures within this collection.

    For those well-versed with the classic canon, I did notice that "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" is posted later, within His Last Bow, rather than within The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Look up Memoirs on Wiki for the story behind that, but suffice to say, it does mark this collection as an American edition. Seems wrong for something so British, but hey, if this is the worst thing I can say about this collection, that makes me a very happy fanboy. My hardcover leatherbound collection has the same issue, so I kind of expected it. Note to self: fix that someday.

    As narrator... I could not ask for better than the great Simon Vance, save for maybe a resurrection of TV's Jeremy Brett. Even then, it's a toss-up. Vance is one of my favorite Audible narrators, and I've had his voice along for more modern Holmes short story collections. As both Holmes and Watson, he is perfect. He also does an amazing job juggling the other characters and their myriad accents throughout the stories, bringing the tales of the Great Detective to uncanny life. If it were possible for him to play Holmes' violin during the recording, I half expect he'd try it. As it is, I can almost hear it anyway, such is the quality.

    Collections like this will always affirm for me that no matter who tries to modernize them to make them somehow "more relevant," the truly great stories and characters, especially of this caliber, are beyond reproach and beyond improvement.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Outlander

    • UNABRIDGED (33 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Diana Gabaldon
    • Narrated By Davina Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (15817)
    Performance
    (10131)
    Story
    (10013)

    Why we think it’s a great listen: An all-time Audible favorite that mixes historic fiction, adventure, and romance with one of the most fascinating literary devices: time travel. Outlander introduces an exhilarating world of heroism and breathtaking thrills as one woman is torn between past and present, passion and love. In 1945, former combat nurse Claire Randall returns from World War II and joins her husband for a second honeymoon. But their blissful reunion is shattered....

    Lulu says: "The Reason for the Existence of Audio Books"
    "If You Know About Weapons, This One's Ruined"
    Overall
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    After watching 3 episodes of the TV series and hearing from friends who've read this how marvelous it is, I decided to go for full spoilers and get the book. You see, I'm not completely sold on the series yet at this point. Good characters, love the sets and the music, but... is there a story here beyond just your basic romance? That was question.

    The short answer is no, not really. Romance novel fans will have little problem embracing this as the characters are solidly human in their personalities, and the little bits of Jacobite intrigue flavor the story nicely. It's just a question of how "steamy" and explicit you like it, because this book goes for broke on that front.

    Having read similar books by Susanna Kearsley, even though Outlander is clearly one of the first of this kind of book, I think I'll stick with Kearsley. Gabaldon's writing style has spunk to the characters and more grit, but not as much gloss or magic as Kearsley. It comes down to personal preference on that front, but for me, I like historical fiction to be historical and fantasy to be fantastic. Gabaldon got this backwards.

    For those of us who read historical fiction for the history, the devil's in the details. It takes a 2 second Google search to confirm that a Scottish claymore does not weigh 15 lbs. It weighs just around 5, a maximum of 6. That's a heavy sword. Smaller swords traditionally weigh less than 2.

    There's a scene in this book that goes to great length to teach our heroine the proper use of a dirk. The only thing I can think of is this is how it must feel for astrophysicists to read science fiction, because I kept screaming at the instructor character for being a complete and utter moron. The historical martial arts community has a vast online presence, and they're very helpful to anyone -- especially writers -- who wish to aim for something resembling real life accuracy. Why would a self-respecting writer randomly make stuff up when such resources abound? It's like when Bugs Bunny puts his fingers into the barrel of Elmer Fudd's shotgun and makes it backfire. This book would have you believe that's how it works, and to those with even a basic knowledge of historical blades, the story just implodes on itself. As a swordfighter, I'm squarely in that category. Without that, I'm sure it's much more entertaining to the larger audiences, and clearly Gabaldon's fan following confirms that, so she must be doing something right.

    With that in mind, the characters are still interesting, so I'll see where the TV version goes for now. Seems wrong to me when the TV version is better than the book, but there it is.

    Davina Porter (by any name she uses) is a magnificent narrator, as always, lending her skills in languages and dialects in her typically superb manner. She gives this book an air of credibility that the writing just doesn't.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Foxe's Book of Martyrs

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By John Foxe
    • Narrated By Nadia May
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (41)
    Performance
    (29)
    Story
    (30)

    Beginning with the story of Stephen from the book of Acts, considered the first Christian martyr, the drama builds to the passion of the early Church's persecution under the Roman Empire. The hardy and radical faith of those first believers spawned medieval missionary movements that spread the gospel across Europe and into England, Scotland, and Ireland. As the story continues, it places a significant emphasis on the sufferings of the early Protestants during the Reformation.

    Stephen says: "How much pain can you take?"
    "Fire and Brimstone Propaganda"
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    The lasting effect of this book on history cannot be understated. It is the singlemost influential book on Protestant thinking throughout the Reformation, often read from the pulpit as scripture alongside the Bible, thus shaping that world irrevocably. The original clocked in at over a million words, and the woodcut illustrations cemented the horrors in the imaginations of the Tudor and Stuart world.

    I am, unfortunately, not yet able to find a physical copy with reproductions of the illustrations for my home library, but in my quest to further deepen my appreciation for Medieval and Renaissance history, this audiobook found its way to me, filling my ears with the propaganda of the age in a most personal way. Regardless of your particular spiritual stance (I'm not a Christian myself), it's very difficult to not be moved to anger, sadness, and sometimes pride for the various sacrifices within, both noble and indignant. Listening to these accounts of martyrdom in detail opens the window of understanding to a bygone age and makes me readily appreciate the amount of religious freedom and tolerance I am accustomed to today by comparison. My studies into history and comparative religion are going to be forever changed by my experience of this book, such is the brutality and courage found here. At the end of the day, regardless of the bias and agenda of the author, these are still tales of human suffering, and it's inhuman to listen to such things impassively. As such, this book is a mental and spiritual beating. For a Christian, especially one of that time and place, I can only imagine the effect it would have on the devout. I'm sure it still holds some power with the faithful today who encounter it. As an outsider in a Christian culture and amateur historian, I appreciate it from my own perspectives and understandings, but it further reinforced my own beliefs about organized religion vs. personal spiritualism. I would liken this book to Yoda's cave on Dagobah: what's inside is shaped and perceived by what you take with you, and you will emerge from the experience with some inherent change on your psyche that you will need to come to terms with. It will not be an easy journey, and only you can decide if it's necessary for you to confront this tome. Make no mistake, it will be a confrontation.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A Field Guide to Demons, Vampires, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Carol K. Mack, Dinah Mack
    • Narrated By Reay Kaplan
    Overall
    (25)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (23)

    Demons, fairies, and fallen angels are everywhere. They lurk at crossroads, crouch behind doors, hide in trees, slip into beds, wait in caves, hover at weddings and childbirths, disguise themselves as friends, relatives - even disguise themselves as you. They are powerful; they are protean; they are enchanting. And, to the uninformed, they are often invisible. This guide - the first of its kind - reveals the remarkable permutations of the demon and fairy species worldwide.

    Amazon Customer says: "The Things that Go Bump in the Night"
    "The Things that Go Bump in the Night"
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    I wasn't entirely sure what to expect going into this. I had a feeling like this was either a book that took itself way too seriously for the wanna-be goth crowd, in which case it might be free comedy, or it would simply be a who's who in the world of negative folklore. This book is decidedly of the latter type, for which I'm thankful. Hey, sometimes you just have to take a chance and see for yourself. Essentially it breaks down the different kinds of entities by associated element: earth, air, fire, water. For example, mermaids, selkies, and nereids are water while djinn and demons are fire, and so on. Under each entry, it gives stories from lore and tells you how to beat them according to tradition. It rarely tells you why these methods work, only that they do, and as you might expect, some of the ways of dispatching these fiends will leave you scratching your head or laughing. But then, that's half the fun of folklore. Well, it is for me, at any rate.

    This sort of book and a handful like it probably populate the shelves of every fantasy writer you can name. It's the sort of thing that inspires storytelling without forcing you to travel down every dead-ended rabbit hole on the internet to track down a given monster. Granted, it's not that easy to track them down in an audio format either, so a print version is probably better for writers who need a reference book. But for a few hours of entertainment for the average enthusiast, this one's a good primer for all the basics worldwide.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Susan Wise Bauer
    • Narrated By John Lee
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (246)
    Performance
    (143)
    Story
    (145)

    From the schism between Rome and Constantinople to the rise of the T'ang Dynasty, from the birth of Muhammad to the crowning of Charlemagne, this erudite book tells the fascinating, often violent story of kings, generals, and the peoples they ruled.

    Chi-Hung says: "Balanced"
    "The First Half of the Medieval World"
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    The sequel to this book is The History of the Renaissance World, which picks up where this one leaves off and stops right before the actual Renaissance. To my mind then, this book is only the first half of the Medieval world story. That irks me, seeing as how the Renaissance story is not actually told in this series. And that's too bad because like the previous volume dealing with the Ancient World, this volume is pretty freaking spectacular in terms of scope and depth. It says something when the worst I can say about a series is that I want more.

    As with the Ancient World volume, this book covers every corner of the globe: every continent (except Antarctica), both hemispheres. Every major culture from the Mayans to the Chinese and everything in between are put on the timeline for comparison and contrast in the course of civilization's rise and fall. It's the kind of eye-opening overview presented in a way that really should be taught in schools, where focus is not on any one given civilization, but rather on parallel development between cultures. As different as the cultures are, the underlying patterns of humanity are revealed, showing that, regardless of where on the map we spring up, we're all capable of some amazing and equally devastating things.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Six Figure Second Income: How to Start and Grow a Successful Online Business Without Quitting Your Day Job

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 1 min)
    • By Jonathan Rozek, David Lindahl
    • Narrated By David Lindahl, Jonathan Rozek
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (104)
    Performance
    (61)
    Story
    (61)

    Here are proven methods for building an online income stream. Maybe you dream of making money with an online business, but haven’t tried so far because you’d have to quit your current job and enter the risky world of Internet startups. Or because you think you need lots of capital and way too much time. If these reasons sound familiar, Dave Lindahl and Jon Rozek beg to differ.

    Katrina says: "not quite second income"
    "Practical Info for Practical Results"
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    This was almost a 5-star book for me. The authors know their stuff, and the information here is invaluable with regards to generating ideas for an online business and growing it step by step. The title may be exaggeration, but I suspect the end result is largely how many different ideas you implement at once, and how many products you've got going. For the end user on a budget and time deficit, the tips here are usable templates for a variety of endeavors.

    The one and only misstep is the website that the authors constantly refer back to. At frequent points in the book, they tell you to go to the site, type in a given item in the search, and read on for more information on a given topic. I'm guessing the site has had a little time to change a bit because the search really doesn't work that well, which forces you to look around for extended amounts of time or give up in frustration or boredom. And that's why I reduce this by one star, because that's an express point they make of how NOT to do something in the book. I believe in leading by example, and no rewards for bad behavior.

    Having said that, if you go to the site with no particular agenda, it's actually full of equally useful information that, like tips in the book, is quickly implemented and easy to follow. Some of it is common sense, and some of it is subtle word play, but where this book really shines is that the authors demonstrate what the "other guys" are doing wrong, why it's wrong, and how you'll benefit by using the information.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Web 3.0 Startups: Online Marketing Strategies for Launching & Promoting any Business on the Web

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By R. L. Adams
    • Narrated By Smokey Rivers
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (30)
    Story
    (29)

    The Internet is evolving at a remarkable pace and it is much more different today than it ever was all thanks to one company: Google. Google has shaped the Web and how we search and find the answers to all of our questions through its organic online search, an online search that has changed enormously in recent years.

    Amazon Customer says: "Creating an Online Presence"
    "Creating an Online Presence"
    Overall
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    With all of the options available in the world of social media, relevancy is the name of the game for anyone looking to promote an online presence. This book is the down and dirty reference guide for anyone looking to make their name on the interwebs. For heavy social media users, much of this content will seem like common sense. But more than telling you what to do, this book also explains why it works and how to maximize your efforts. A print or ebook copy may be helpful for later reference.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Law of Superheroes

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By James Daily, Ryan Davidson
    • Narrated By Eric G. Dove
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    Could Superman sue if someone exposed his identity as Clark Kent? Is a life sentence for an immortal like Apocalypse "cruel and unusual punishment"? Is X-ray vision a violation of search and seizure laws? Is the Joker legally insane? And who foots the bill when a hero destroys a skyscraper or two while defending Metropolis? Fear not, gentle listener! The answers to these questions and a multitude more are contained inside this audiobook.

    Amazon Customer says: "Legal Pedantry Has Never Been This Much Fun"
    "Legal Pedantry Has Never Been This Much Fun"
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    Comic book fans will be well acquainted with the setup for this book. Imagine a discussion over the latest issue of Batman where the Joker is captured and remanded back into custody at Arkham Asylum because he's legally insane, and therefore incapable of standing trial. Or perhaps there is an argument over gift taxes regarding the diamond that Superman shaped and gave to Lana Lang in Superman III. Exactly who's liable for the mission that turned the Fantastic Four into superpowered heroes and the Hulk into a living engine of destruction? Perhaps we should talk about insurance and the swaths of disaster cut by the average superbattle? And just how far can the Mutant Registration Act or similar such laws extend? For non-fans, it sounds ridiculous, and there are even some fans who will claim as much and still get sucked into such discussion, but for the rest of us (and we all know who we are), this book is a veritable gold mine.

    The authors of this book are lawyers and self-described comic book geeks who bring their legal minds to questions that I have heard since the moment I first encountered other fans... and admittedly some of them were asked by me. Geeks love trivia, and in the comics world, the more pedantic the trivia, the better it gets. This book is 100% legal pedantry, wherein many, many, MANY examples of comic book conduct crosses into the real world. Dare I say it, this might be the most awesome way to learn about the U.S. legal system. Stuff like this is what makes geeks seem smart when they unleash their newfound knowledge upon their unsuspecting audiences. After all, knowledge is power, and with great power comes great responsibility (yes, I had to say it) to crush the ego of that one unrelenting know-it-all that every fan knows. Incidentally, if you don't instantly know who that is in your group... it's probably you.

    I won't say that this book is all-encompassing, but I think anyone would be hard-pressed to figure out what might have been left out. Go for it, my fellow geeks, and get back to me on this one. I'll also say that there are a couple of points where I'm wondering if the authors actually read the comic they reference because, well, I'm a geek, and I spot these things where the story in question is much beloved. But for the most part, they do a great job, and for those interested in further reading, the actual case reference numbers are there for you to look up.

    The narrator for the audio version does a good job as well, but again, I'm a geek, so I'm going to just call this outright. Ra's al Ghul is not pronounced as it is in the Dark Knight movies. For 30 years before Nolan ever got there, the name has a long A sound and the corresponding punctuation in the comics to prove it. Reference Batman: The Animated series to get it right. Also, other pronunciations such as J'Onn J'Onnz and Xavier are called into question. If you can let these slide without nerd rage, then this narrator will work well for you.

    One last thing I'll point out, because I can. Nearly everyone I talk to in the past couple of decades seems to think that ultra-realism is better than merely having fun when it comes to superhero stories. After this book, you might be rethinking your stance on that. Pretty much every character you can name would be required to go back to the drawing board or spend life behind bars. Yes, even Superman. Maybe not Wonder Woman or Aquaman, assuming they have diplomatic immunity, but probably international wars would be inevitable. Eh, you get the idea. Get this book, and prepare to have your mind blown.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Orson Welles: A Biography

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By Barbara Leaming
    • Narrated By Grace Conlin
    Overall
    (35)
    Performance
    (23)
    Story
    (23)

    Genius, artist, monstre sacré, Orson Welles had one of the most brilliant careers in show business. Here he confides his most intimate feelings and recollections of his life. With remarkable detail and intimacy, Barbara Leaming reveals the private Welles: from child prodigy and young lion in Dublin and New York, to the succès de scandale of his The War of the Worlds broadcast; from his auspicious directing debut with the legendary Citizen Kane in his 20s to the sabotage of his further directing career.

    Karen says: "Great book; average narration"
    "More Than Just a Biography... a Collaboration"
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    This might be the most heartbreaking review I ever write. I discovered the golden age of radio, The War of the Worlds, and The Shadow through Orson Welles. I discovered Welles at the end of his life when I was 12, when he performed the voice of the monster planet Unicron in Transformers: The Movie. It's not Citizen Kane, and it would never be anything remotely close. I get that, but that's how I came to appreciate one of the greatest geniuses the entertainment world has ever known. My love of radio happened because of this man. This man changed my life and expanded my world.

    This biography is truly something special because it has something that other biographies don't have: Welles himself. Author Barbara Learning was able to contact and collaborate with Welles on this biography through means that typifies Welles' life story, and he gave her free reign and resources because he understood that there is Welles the man, Welles the legend, and his own memory, none of which were in alignment. He was curious to learn about all three aspects. More insightful than the story of Welles' life are the inserted dialogues between Welles and Learning, which adds both gravitas and that personal flourish that makes all the difference. Welles was an extraordinary man by any measure, and his life was as equally bizarre.

    On a personal note... the epilogue shattered my childhood. After going through the highs and lows, after getting the personal reminiscences from greatness to virtual unemployment, the hardest part was hearing him refer to my first experience with him as "that horrible little project about Japanese robots that transform into vehicles and such" and how at least it'll help him to buy groceries or something. It was one of the last things he performed before he passed, and he didn't live long enough to see it released. I knew all along he wasn't pleased with it, and I get it, I really do. I can see how a man of Welles' star caliber might think that a string of voiceovers in commercials and cartoons would be something terrible, even after a long stretch of failure and unemployment. But to have his own commentary on it is rough. I like to think that it's little projects like this that will ultimately lead people of later generations to find his work through the back alleys when they might otherwise not seek out the likes of Citizen Kane. After all, that's how I discovered his work. And just like nobody could have predicted something like that, nobody could have predicted the kind of twists and turns Welles' life would take. I thought I knew about Welles before. This book expanded on so much I only thought I knew. As biographies go, this one's a treasure.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Wise Man's Fear: Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2

    • UNABRIDGED (42 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Patrick Rothfuss
    • Narrated By Nick Podehl
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9910)
    Performance
    (8222)
    Story
    (8296)

    "My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep...."

    Geoff says: "I dig it."
    "A Fantasy Masterpiece"
    Overall
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    All of the things I said in my review of Book 1, The Name of the Wind, still hold true, only more so. The storytelling is lyrical. The characters are more real than many people you can name. The world building is as good or better than I've seen in any other fantasy setting from contemporary writers. If you've read the first, then you have some idea of what to expect from this one, though I think that if it's possible, this one is bigger and ever more rich in its scope and depth, especially in the second half. Rothfuss has already made a name for himself in the upper echelons of fiction's heavy hitters, and as far as I'm concerned, it's well-deserved.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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