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Eric C. Zawadzki

Minneapolis, MN, United States | Member Since 2015

  • 12 reviews
  • 123 ratings
  • 263 titles in library
  • 2 purchased in 2015

  • The Sharing Knife, Volume 1: Beguilement

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Lois McMaster Bujold
    • Narrated By Bernadette Dunne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Young, pregnant Fawn Bluefield has just fled her family's farm to the city of Glassforge, where she encounters a patrol of the enigmatic soldier-sorcerers known as Lakewalkers. Fawn has heard stories about the Lakewalkers, who are wandering necromancers with no permanent homes and no possessions except the clothes they wear and the mysterious knives they carry. What she does not know is that the Lakewalkers are engaged in a perilous campaign against inhuman and immortal magical entities known as "malices".

    Eric C. Zawadzki says: "Not really my thing"
    "Not really my thing"

    I really enjoyed Curse of Chalion and wanted to try out more Bujold, but this one didn't work out the way I had hoped. Perhaps I am not the target audience. I finished the book, but I'm afraid I walked away disappointed.

    It's not that this book is badly written, but all the action and heavy world-building are in the first few chapters. After that the world-building is told entirely through dialogue, and the plot turns into a straightforward love story with decent character building but little dramatic tension.

    I'm not a big fan of the unnecessary age gap, but it's the substantial power differential (from "I'll teach you how the world works" to "I'll teach you how to make love") that makes the relationship creepy in my eyes.

    Clearly a lot of other reviewers enjoyed this book a lot more than I did, but for my part I think I'll go back to Chalion or pick up one of Bujold's books about this Miles character I've heard so much about.

    27 of 28 people found this review helpful
  • Woken Furies

    • UNABRIDGED (22 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Richard K. Morgan
    • Narrated By William Dufris
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Richard K. Morgan has received widespread praise for his astounding 25th-century novels featuring Takeshi Kovacs, and has established a growing legion of fans. Mixing classic noir sensibilities with a searing futuristic vision of an age when death is nearly meaningless, Morgan returns to his saga of betrayal, mystery, and revenge, as Takeshi Kovacs, in one fatal moment, joins forces with a mysterious woman who may have the power to shatter Harlan's World forever.

    Amazon Customer says: "Is this a joke?"
    "Fun if a bit silly"
    Any additional comments?

    The first two books of this series took themselves much more seriously. I enjoyed them both for what they were - an unorthodox locked room murder mystery and an almost Indiana Jones-esque search for the unknown. At this point in the series I think Morgan is just plain trolling us - and I mean that it the most amused way possible.

    The story picks up on Harlan's World with Takeshi having just perpetrated some orgy of slaughter or another, and now he's itching to get out of his cheap-but-almost-untraceable sleeve ASAP. But there's a catch. Apparently the global Yakuza hired Takeshi's body-swapper to switch one of their favorite sons, and Kovacs' body swap gets bumped back several hours. He responds with his characteristic threats of violence completely out of proportion to the situation, and the Yakuza boss essentially gives a long-suffering sigh and agrees to put a rush on the favorite son's body-swap and even overlook Takeshi's over-the-top threats. In exchange, all the Yakuza asks of Takeshi is that he not commit any acts of ultraviolence for the next six hours.

    Spoiler Alert: Tak completely fails to keep his end of the bargain.

    This kicks off a merry chase involving Communist robo-tanks, shameless fan service, alien technology, and a war of a handful against, well, pretty much the whole damn world. It's a helluva fun ride.

    Aside from the consistent mispronunciation of Takeshi's last name, there is nothing wrong with the narration. Cut the guy some slack. He probably didn't read Altered Carbon and Fallen Angels just so he could narrate Woken Furies.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By Scott Lynch
    • Narrated By Michael Page
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    An orphan's life is harsh---and often short---in the island city of Camorr, built on the ruins of a mysterious alien race. But born with a quick wit and a gift for thieving, Locke Lamora has dodged both death and slavery, only to fall into the hands of an eyeless priest known as Chains---a man who is neither blind nor a priest. A con artist of extraordinary talent, Chains passes his skills on to his carefully selected "family" of orphans---a group known as the Gentlemen Bastards.

    Luke A. Reynolds says: "Stupendous, but be warned."
    "Best audiobook I read in 2011"

    This book and its Audible version came to me highly recommended by multiple people, and ever since I finished it I have felt compelled to recommend it heartily to just about every fantasy reader I meet. The plot just ticks along merrily with every complication more ridiculous (in a good way) than the last, and yet the heroes overcome obstacles in ways that are incredibly clever without ever feeling forced or fake. The whole thing just fits together so well.

    The author uses flashbacks the way Terry Pratchett uses scene changes. Each one begins right after some revelation or new twist that absolutely demands that you find out what happens next. It's not that the flashbacks aren't interesting on their own merits, as they do a lot of heavy lifting for world-building and backfill, but make no mistake. The primary purpose is as a narrative tool to delay the relief of dramatic tension. By the end of the book, I wanted to strangle the author every time he cut to a flashback, but there was no way I was going to stop reading until I found out what happened next.

    Add to all this a narrator who is absolutely a master at his task. The city of Camorr is cosmopolitan, so he creates accents for each nationality and then does distinguishably different voices for multiple characters in many of those accents. Locke is constantly adopting disguises and false personalities, and the narrator does voices for every single one such that it is sometimes briefly difficult to determine where Locke ends and where his disguise begins. This is literally the first time I've finished a book and then went back to Audible to find out what other books the narrator has done. I was that impressed with his performance.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs)
    • By Oscar Wilde
    • Narrated By Dan Lazar
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Barry says: "The Voice Needs to be Better"
    "Narration made this one a chore"

    I've been meaning to read this story for many years, now, and I'm glad to have finally done so. This is a high concept story with a really interesting premise - what if a man's portrait changed appearance as he aged and became worldly instead of the man? It has some good points, but its protagonist is difficult to like, and I think the tale is more important for the stories it has inspired others to write than for what it accomplishes on its own.

    I fear I may be selling it short simply because the narrator really made this one a chore. I've read many classics of literature through Audible, and I enjoyed most. I expect that the language, pacing, and characterization may not be what we come to expect of stories today. I have no problem with that. But there is this tendency to use really old recordings for audio versions of any book that wasn't published in the last twenty years that can make reading literary greats for fun feel like a tedious high school English class assignment.

    In this case, the reading clearly predated the idea of audiobook as something for people who don't *need* to read audiobooks. It was read for the blind or for those with aging eyes who don't have much choice but to use audiobooks. It was not exactly monotone, but there was no attempt made to distinguish voices, and there was a certain pattern of rising an falling intonations that did not so much inspire interest as encourage sleep. That actively diminished from my enjoyment of the story, and I wish I had read it in print, instead.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Parable of the Talents

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Octavia E. Butler
    • Narrated By Patricia R. Floyd, Peter Jay Fernandez, Sisi Aisha Johnson

    Environmental devastation and economic chaos have turned America into a land of horrifying depravity. Assault, theft, sexual abuse, slavery, and murder are commonplace. And a zealous, bigoted tyrant has won his way into the White House. Directly opposed is Lauren Olamina, founder of Earthseed - a new faith that teaches "God Is Change". Persecuted for "heathen" beliefs as much as for having a black female leader, Earthseed's followers face a life-and-death struggle to preserve their vision.

    David says: "Powerful, dark sequel that stands on its own"
    "Interesting but ending disappointed"

    I enjoyed this story. Plot, characters, voice, and setting lived up to my expectations throughout. It would have gotten a pretty solid 4 stars, which tends to be my way of saying I liked it, but it didn't completely blow me away.

    However, the ending felt like a cop-out, as though the writer thought to herself, "This has been a fun writing exercise, but I'm ready to work on something else, now." There's a great story going, and I'm wondering how the heroine is going to deal with the challenges of the next phase of her master plan, and then we get a huge time jump right into the epilogue. It felt like the third act of a three-act play had just gotten cut. Imagine if the Star Wars trilogy had gone straight from the final scene of The Empire Strikes Back directly to the last scene of Return of the Jedi with only a brief narrative voiceover to describe all the events of the third movie.

    After crafting such a well-written and interesting story, the ending is a missed opportunity. The story is weaker for it, and an otherwise perfectly satisfactory conclusion rings hollow and sloppy. It's really a shame, because the rest of the story is so strong.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Ten Years After

    • UNABRIDGED (23 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Alexandre Dumas
    • Narrated By Simon Vance

    It is May 1660 and the fate of nations is at stake. Mazarin plots, Louis XIV is in love, and Raoul de Bragelonne, son of Athos, is intent on serving France and winning the heart of Louise de la Valliere. D'Artagnan, meanwhile, is perplexed by a mysterious stranger, and soon he learns that his old comrades already have great projects in hand.

    Eric C. Zawadzki says: "Why didn't I read this stuff sooner"
    "Why didn't I read this stuff sooner"

    After reading The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers, I could completely understand why everyone I know loves the work of Alexandre Dumas. I thought that this book might be greatly inferior to Dumas's better-known work, but this guy can't seem to write a terrible story.

    Humor, action, memorable characters - the more Dumas I read, the more of it I want to read. These books have really aged well, and I see their fingerprints everywhere I look in fantasy and sci-fi.

    I wish I'd known this is kind of The Three Musketeers Part 3 before I went and spoiled bits of Twenty Years Later, which came in between the two books. I thought this was a standalone like The Count of Monte Cristo, but I was incorrect. I could have gotten that tidbit of information from Wikipedia, and I'll soon fill that gap in the narrative, but it is unfortunate that this wasn't described as a sequel in the write-up here on Audible.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Growing Old

    • UNABRIDGED (13 mins)
    • By Guy de Maupassant
    • Narrated By Walter Zimmerman

    Guy de Maupassant was a popular 19th-century French writer. He is considered one of the fathers of the modern short story. As a protégé of Flaubert, his short stories are characterized by their economy of style and their efficient effortless resolution. In Growing Old two middle-aged men discuss their feelings about aging which leads to one telling a heart rending story about young love and its unexpected aftermath.

    Douglas says: "In An Age Of..."

    A brief but excellent exploration of how we measure our own aging by seeing others around us become old. Vivid and memorable without overstaying its welcome. Definitely worth a buck and twenty minutes of my time.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Paradise Lost

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By John Milton
    • Narrated By Ralph Cosham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Often considered the greatest epic in any modern language, Paradise Lost tells the story of the revolt of Satan, his banishment from Heaven, and the ensuing fall of Man with his expulsion from Eden. It is a tale of immense drama and excitement, of innocence pitted against corruption, of rebellion and treachery, in which God and Satan fight a bitter battle for control of mankind's destiny. The struggle ranges across heaven, hell, and earth, as Satan and his band of rebel angels conspire against God.

    Louis says: "A Breathtaking Work, Well-Rendered!"
    "Influential but not very accessible"

    This book has had a tremendous impact on English literature, and in the 5 hours of listening I did I encountered ideas that are being revisited and reused even in contemporary works. Unfortunately, I found my attention wandering as the verse went on. If it had been a 5 or 6 hour listen, I probably would have been fine, but the antiquated language, poetic form, and high time demand eventually pushed me away. In truth, I generally found the Arguments at the beginning of each section much more interesting than the sections themselves, which was unfortunate.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Hell House

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Richard Matheson
    • Narrated By Ray Porter
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    For over 20 years, Belasco House has stood empty. Regarded as the Mt. Everest of haunted houses, its shadowed walls have witnessed scenes of unimaginable horror and depravity. All previous attempts to probe its mysteries have ended in murder, suicide, or insanity.

    But now, a new investigation has been launched, bringing four strangers to Belasco House in search of the ultimate secrets of life and death. A wealthy publisher, brooding over his impending death, has paid a physicist and two mediums to establish the facts of life after death once and for all. For one night, they will investigate the Belasco House and learn exactly why the townsfolk refer to it as the Hell House.

    Phebe says: "Hell House is like Hill House, but fiercer"
    "Very influential horror story"

    This was a classic horror pick. Every horror trope in the story was familiar to me, not because the book wasn't original in its time but because it has obviously had an enormous impact on horror movies and books that have come out since.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Valis

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Philip K. Dick
    • Narrated By Tom Weiner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    This disorienting and bleakly funny work is about a schizophrenic hero named Horselover Fat, the hidden mysteries of Gnostic Christianity, and reality as revealed through a pink laser. Valis is a theological detective story, in which God is both a missing person and the perpetrator of the ultimate crime.

    Devon says: "Bizarro, Sacrilegous"
    "Couldn't get into it"

    I really enjoyed Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, but I couldn't get into this one. The style reminded me of Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions except without certain essential qualities that make Vonnegut so entertaining to read. There is something to this book, but it didn't grab me after reading about a quarter of the way through.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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