I dare say David Anthony Durham gives George R.R. Martin a run for for his money. Die hard fans of Martin may not believe me, but "Acacia" looks like it may end up a better series of books than Martin's "A Game of Thrones".
Why? Because Acacia's characters have more depth. The "good guys" have deep flaws and the "bad guys" have motivations that are believable and in some cases, justifiable. Readers can empathize with nearly all the characters.
The plot takes risks and turns that surprise and delight. Just when I think the story is going to go in one direction, it goes in the other.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy epics. I enjoyed all 29 hours so much that I've set aside an hour each evening to listening to it with my husband, who loves the genre but doesn't have the the time to devote hours during the day to listen to it.
Spend the credit, spend the time. It's worth it.
What I love best about this book is the way the writer can both keep me on the edge of my seat while simultaneously (and obviously) knowing there is more to come.
Because of the humanity painted by his depiction of John Geary, the reader avoids the hero worship the character detests. Campbell's goal of depicting a hero of legend coming back to save the day while simultaneously portraying a mortal man is achieved!
I'm also impressed with the narrator. He gives individual personality to all the characters with both different accents as well as tempo of speech. It's as close to a full cast as one man can do alone. While there are other narrators also able to perform at this level, there are far more that don't even come close.
My favorite scene was near the end of the book, when Geary wrestles between vengeance and justice, knowing he's achieved the loyalty of his men to get away with either. Campbell's skillful writing had me there in the moment, also feeling the desire to shoot the detestible characters. While my inclination bent towards vengeance, the writing didn't leave me feeling silly when the character chose what was right over what felt good. Geary wasn't imperious with the distaste of someone morally superior. It's skillful writing.
This book took me by surprise. I hated it at first and came pretty close to returning it after falling asleep during one of the first battles. But once I got to know the characters and recognized why I was having a hard time it grew on me to where I cursed out loud when the book ended and then immediately bought the next. It ranks high among my collection of books more because of the way it challenged me to think than most other space dramas I've exposed myself to than by anything else.
I'm one of those people that hates it when someone gives me quick and offhand directions to a new place. I just nod and then use Google maps to lead me. Why does that matter? Because the battles require a lot of spatial imagination. Not special imagination. SPATIAL imagination. The writer goes into close detail about the whereabouts of the ships during battle as well as the unique problems when dealing with time lag and speed. He choreographs brutal ballets in space. This can be a bit off putting at first and led to my falling asleep when I began the book. But once I put myself into the right frame of mind, I enjoyed it.
The writing is terrific. I have no problem seeing and feeling what his characters convey. While sometimes I thought "how can one person go through so many thoughts and come to so many decisions in such a brief span of time," when Captain Geary was having another spate of brooding about the delicate position he had been placed in, I learned to roll with it. I've come to believe everyone actually does the very same thing, we just don't put all those feelings into words, while a writer can. It's obvious this writer wants to place us in a direct emotion link with his main character. And isn't that why we read fiction, to live inside the minds of others?
Don't get this book if you want to be on auto-pilot. But if you enjoy battle as well as drama and want the challenges provided by a writer that revels in the details of handling large space faring vessels, by all means, give this a try!
I wouldn't recommend this book because it felt unnecessary to the series. The only reason I finished it was out of inertia.
The most interesting aspect was the Prince's character development, and even that wasn't very surprising. It was inevitable and predictable.
While I wasn't impressed by this book, I absolutely would be interested in a follow-up about the two main characters. I'm curious about how a prince raised in luxury would do in the harsh realities of "The Slaughterhouse." I also would love to read more about the pathfinders.
There simply was a lack of depth to most of the supporting characters in the book. Die hard fans of the series will probably want to read this book, if only to see Earth destroyed under its weight of corruption. But if you're more interested in the Avalon/Commonwealth story line, then you can skip this book and lose nothing when you move onto the next. Really, there is no need to listen to this book to continue the series.
The main character's personality and moral character.
The series is definitely an homage to Asimov's Foundation Series. Come on, an intellectual that predicts the downfall of a galactic empire is banished to the rim only to assist the building of a new and more stable empire?
This book does not fit the Foundation Trilogy's story line. It stands on its own. But the theme of building a more flexible and stable Empire from the ashes of the old is still there. But it's almost entirely from the point of view of the main character, unlike the other books in the series. I really enjoyed it!
I teared up a bit in a couple scenes. But I laughed more.
I've devoured this series. This is by far my favorite, (despite a lack of marines). The character development was excellent and realistic. The handling of religion was well done, when the author could have just resorted to stereotype. By the end I was eager to see how and when the Avalon Commonwealth would enter the story line. It was also refreshing to watch an empire built by fair and ethical trade rather than brute force.
At first I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book because it wasn't Avalon focused. I considered skipping it and using my credits to pre-order the next book. I'm glad I didn't!
My only complaint is the author's political bias portrayed by the excerpts of the "book" on economics that began every chapter. I've been a paraplegic for over 22 years, and benefited from such government programs as vocational rehabilitation, that assisted me to go from a devastating injury to becoming a college student in six months. The author's opinion that all government funded assistance leads to societal decline is rather naive.
Sure, what happened in the empire, with its lack of population control coupled with what read like blanket welfare absolutely led to its destruction. I have no disagreement with the hows and whys of the empire's end. My problem is that the author seems to have black and white thinking when it comes to the responsibility of government to help the most vulnerable.
I listened to this book out loud and my husband would overhear some of the chapter beginnings and ask me why I'm listening to tea party propaganda. However, I still give this book five stars. So while my political disagreements with the chapter headers may have made me cringe, they didn't impede on the story. Annoying, yes, but ultimately irrelevant - but I couldn't just give this book five stars without writing a review declaring my disagreement with the political bias. Doing that felt like I endorsed it.
In other words: Awesome book, worth the credit!
If you like the timing and pace to David Sederis's readings, you will like Raul Esparza. If you like to listen to "This American Life," you will like Raul Esparza. If you enjoy Stephen King's silly points (as in all his novels), Raul Esparza does a great job making them funnier. He is not the best narrator out there. He certainly needs to work on his accents. However, those things are excusable for his ability to properly voice all the lighter parts of King's books, and with perfect delivery, heave us outside of the horror.
Unrelenting horror, without humor or perspective is not enjoyable.
I started to listen to this book at bedtime. I woke my husband up before dawn, quivering with laughter over the conversation the fundamentalist preacher has with God.
What I liked the most about this book was the way it sparked conversations about morality, environmentalism, responsibility, religion, military pragmatism, and politics in my home. My husband was always ready for a new discussion or debate when I set aside my headphones and said, "You wanna hear what just happened in Chester's Mill?" (I can't just play the book aloud with a five-year-old around).
If you love living in a small mind, with fundamentalist religion as your beacon of infallibility, and drive a SUV, perhaps another book will be to your liking.
As for the swearing... What does one expect from Stephen King?
This is a book both writers and artists can enjoy. The authenticity of the lives of artists, writers, abusive childhoods, post traumatic stress disorder and depression are vividly written, but with subtle stokes. Taking the everyday joys and horrors of "real" life and adding the elements of magic mixed in with physics (the physics is not overt, but if one has heard of Projection Theory, the book seems to be littered with references) blends into a cohesive whole. The effect is enchanting and satisfies our desire for Truth while clothed in fantasy.
For those above drinking age – sit down with over a gallon of whatever drink you like (preferably watered down as you might poison yourself otherwise), and then drink a shot for every time:
1) A character shivers but “NOT because of the cold” (or ice, or the glacier, or any reference to cold).
2) A character shoots a “darting glance”, “a look that could wither the strongest man”, or any other clich? involving glaring angrily at another person.
3) A character complains about insect bites or scratches.
That is all this book is good for. It also can inspire timid writers to see just how mediocre a writer can be and still get published. I finished it only out of a stubborn desire to get my money’s worth of entertainment. Once I made my peace with its bad writing and read it as a comedy, I was able to finish it. Even the narrator sounds like he doesn’t take the novel seriously. I certainly will never read any more from this writer. And I humbly beg you to not do so either. Unless you are of drinking age and want to get thoroughly drunk with the above mentioned drinking game.
Normally I hail Scott Brick as an incredible audio book performer, but he read this book as if he just needed a paycheck. (Try "The Company" to hear him do his best work.) Perhaps Brick didn't try his best because this book is not particularly a good one.
This is a book to listen to in the car on the way to someplace interesting. In other words, it's junk food for the brain. The author posits some interesting ideas, but the characters are two dimensional, and the plot itself is rather predictable. If you only get one credit a month, don't waste it on "The Traveler".
I listened to this book after finishing "Acacia" by David Anthony Durham, a riveting 29 hour novel with an excellent narrator and vivid characters, so perhaps that colors my opinion. If you only get one credit a month, then THAT book is certainly worth it! Or, if you have two credits, try "The Company: A Novel of the CIA" by Robert Littell. It gives you 40 hours of espionage at its best.
Those two recommendations require a bit of a commitment time-wise; if you just want to be mildly entertained for a few hours, then go ahead and spend/waste a credit on "The Traveler": there certainly are worse books than this one out there.
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