Paul Hoffman seems to have come up with an interesting plot, but unfortunately never got past the drafting stage for this novel. The clipped dialogue and focus on distinct details convey well the grim mood during the first chapters of this book. Unfortunately, the writing style doesn't change much as the story progresses, leaving both the dialogue and the storyflow poorly paced and lacking in flavor. Perhaps for this reason, many of the characters were left feeling shallow and unimaginative.
The further the story progressed, the less polished it became. Characters were introduced, just to be completely forgotten a few chapters later. The author also became ever more obliged to explain (rather bluntly) characters' actions and reactions (no matter how obvious or uninteresting they are), as if he had a need to convince you with the logic of it, instead of trusting into his own storytelling. The events, first logical and tightly bound, soon became disjointed and artificial, feeling to be arbitrarily forced by the author rather than stemming from the world he created. Most of the events didn't seem to have much of effect on the overall story progression, as the characters were plunged into the next plot twist, without having any choice about it.
This book suffers from poor storytelling. However, my main complaint is about something else. It has a good deal of real-world references. Real town names, currency, nationalities, religious references and terminology are all used as-is. At first, this felt interesting and sometimes amusing. Soon, it started getting repetitive, making it difficult to immerse into the book. By the end of the book, these references seemed more like cheap and unimaginative placeholders, which no one bothered to replace afterwards.
That being said, I did buy the next book in the series. The plot really isn't so bad, it's just the writing which makes me cringe.
Terse and limited run through the driving forces during the ancient history of Sumer, Egypt, Babylon and nearby regions. Covers the timespan from the development of Sumerian writing to Assyrian empire during the early iron age. Would have personally enjoyed a more detailed and extensive lecture set. Also, it bothers me that in the "Origins of Great Ancient Civilizations", there is really nothing on East Asian history.
Third book in the series doesn't add as much to the world the author has been building as the first two, instead concentrating on carrying forth the plot lines started before and adding more background and detail to the existing characters. There are definitely some good parts to this book, so I would expect someone whom liked the previous two, enjoying dipping back into Peter Brett's demon world.
I must warn, however, that throughout latter parts of the book, I had a certain feeling that the author is forcefully contriving to bring everyone together for a grand finale to the series. This would probably be timely, as some repeating elements in the storytelling (characters' inner struggles and constant escalation in power) are definitely wearing on me. That, combined with diminishing excitement as demons no longer seem as much of a threat, made some of the sections feel more tedious than interesting.
Overall, there's more of what you've likely already read. The book doesn't necessarily add new revelations, but the story progresses along adding more depth to the characters, has a bit of a dip in the middle, but adds pace towards the end and finishes off with almost a literal cliff-hanger - so there's definitely more to come.
The Hidden Reality contains some interesting information and is an entertaining read, but I do have a few quips with the style it was written in.
First is, that the author has an uncanny tendency to impose tidbits of information on you without first building a solid basis for them, with the apparent assumption that you'll be later satisfied with an explanation coming in a few chapters. This might work in a traditional textbook, where one can cross-reference things more easily. In audio, however, related subjects might be hours apart. If you don't plan to listen to everything in one go, the lack of cohesion becomes further magnified with the passage of time. At the same time, Brian Greene sometimes keeps iterating over and over the same things, summoning a plethora of (often poor) analogies to his aid.
That leads to my second complaint. The analogies in this book must be counted in hundreds. It would simply make more sense, if one only explained the science and thinking leading to specific theories, instead of trying to come up with a distant analogy for every occasion, which often only serves to make the obvious obscure. Maybe I'm a bit too harsh on Brian Greene for this, but it was a serious deterrent for me to keep on listening to the book, taking a much longer time than usual to finish.
Overall, though, I don't think this was a waste of time. I feel that I do have a bit more solid understanding of the current stance on the history of and physics behind our universe. Also, a few, mostly offhand, comments made some previously familiar concepts fit better together in my mind, for which I am grateful. Not sure if I'd be anxious to listen to another one of Brian Greene's books, though.
Did not expect to see another book by Joe Abercrombie so soon after The Heroes and was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon it by chance. As others have noted, Steven Pacey is a remarkable narrator and would make a mediocre story sound superb. So much the better when the story is a decent one.
There are many parallels in Red Country to the colonization of the Americas, which adds an interesting tone to the story and at least for me, makes it easier to picture the world around the main characters. Storytelling is quite good, albeit the pacing is a little slow, events less grandiose and I would have, personally, enjoyed seeing more tie-ins into the previous books. I'm now more hopeful about hearing more about the fates of many of the old characters, though. There is a long time span between The last argument of kings and Red country along with plenty of characters and events to expand upon, so maybe we shall see another book detailing that time period more closely from the perspective of characters we haven't heard of for a long time.
Only gave the story four stars, because it doesn't quite stand up to the first law trilogy. You just have to be realistic about these things. ;)
Parallel Worlds goes over some of the history of modern physics, explaining well how we got to where we are now. Especially the history of string theories and what the current and upcoming issues in regards to them are, was interesting to hear about.
The book also entertains a lot of interesting concepts (time travel, parallel dimensions, source of the universe, M-theory, to name a few) and explains them in very clear terms. Maybe a bit too clear, even, as I was left with a feeling that some corners had to be cut, in order to keep things clear for the reader. The philosophic & theologic questions felt also out of place and I would have personally preferred it, if they were left out for some other book to cover.
Overall, it was a nice read, definitely worth the time and money.
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