I essentially enjoyed this book.... The story was interesting, fun and engrossing. The characters were distinctive and entertaining (though the descriptions of Kubu's food obsessions grew a bit weary). But the storyline eventually out-complexed itself, leaving a muddled mass of dead bodies, confusing motives and a notable lack of clear resolution. There were ultimately so many amorphous twists and turns in the plot that it became very challenging to keep track of what was going on at any given moment, only to have it NOT really be very cleared up in the end. Enjoyable, but ultimately disappointing. It was more or less a worthy listen, but I'm looking to see this author improve his game a bit in the future... As a final note, the narrator did a great job cleanly conveying both the characters and the story in his pleasant british/S. African accent. It made the lack of solid resolution more tolerable...
Tons and tons of really interesting, relevant and juicy background information regarding both the outlander books, and the new TV series. The narration is okay, though she says a few things really bizarrely… I have no idea where she gets her pronunciation of the word Beltane. Never heard it sound like that in my life. But it's bearable and the information is completely worth it. It was just the extra material that I was looking for while currently being engrossed in the series, after having read all the books. If you're an outlander geek, you'll really enjoy this.
This is a wonderful story, a great tale of two rich cultural traditions and their myths. The characters are incredibly well developed, and the story is surprisingly moving. We take two mythical creatures from two concurrent cultures and bring them together in unexpected ways, while examining the intrinsic possibilities of each's potential for both good and evil. The storyline is rich, the period details are fascinating and intriguing. I've listened to this twice, and enjoyed it more each time.
Well done series, enjoyable if you are a fan of the serial fantasy genre. My only complaint is that I don't really like the way the narrator reads the main character... If feels contrived and overdone (and strangely inaccurate). Otherwise good.
Look... I LOVE The Name of the Wind series. I LOVE Auri. I love Patrick Rothfuss' writing. But three + hours of skittering around in Auri's whackadoo mind is just. too. much. I can see why he enjoyed writing it... total play on words, the flagrant exploration of the "essense" (as perceived by a crazy person, albeit a sweet, harmless crazy person) of inanimate "things" was probably fun to write, fun to explore. But for the reader? It was just painful. I listened to the whole thing, but it was more a dutiful and drudgeryish experience than anything, rather than enjoyable. I get the idea that most of us are a little bit broken, and most of us often feel lonely, but 6-7 days worth of narrative from the rambling, mercurial mind of a crazy girl just got to be way the heck too much. I will never listen to it again.
I really loved the whole Kushiel series, both Phaedre's and Imriel's stories... But this one was just soooo far fetched that it was hard to really buy into Moiren's story. I found Moiren's character to be both too cloying and improbable to really feel invested, and the whole going to Ch'in, dragons, etc was just stretching it too far. I don't actually think that I'll be finishing this series.
I've read through many of the reviews of this book, and the primary complaint seems to be regarding the inconsistencies with Mr. Dotrice's narration. I feel that it is important to point out that he is NINETY years old as I write this, was 88 when this audiobook was published and 80 when the first book in the series came out. I know many elderly people, and the fact that he was able to narrate these giant tomes at all is quite remarkable, let alone so well!! So, yes, I agree that it is maddening to hear a narrator change his game mid show, but I feel like we got to cut this guy some slack. Just saying.
That said... the book itself is consistent with the rest of these works, ponderous and detailed, but still thoroughly engaging. Just like the whole series.
David Mitchell can seriously write. It's like 6 mini-novelas with the slightest undercurrent of a theme running through all of them. Each story is so unique from the others presented, and so well done, it's hard to imagine that they're all contained in one book. Other reviewers cautioned against trying to listen haphazardly to this one, I think that's sage advice. But I didn't find it difficult to follow as long as I paid attention. It's funny, poignant, serious and intense, all wrapped into one. This is one I will listen to again.
This book had come highly recommended to me by friends, and it's certainly in a genre/era that I enjoy. I read a lot of victorian era fantasy fiction and, usually, I enjoy it immensely. This book, however, was always just a little off the mark. Character development was, presumably, sacrificed for setting development which, ultimately, gave the whole piece a rather hollow feel. There was also a lack of consistency in the characters... It was difficult to determine who were the pro- and antagonists. You found yourself rooting for a character one minute and finding them distasteful in the next. The back story was never really hammered into place, giving everything a rather hazy, made up sort of feel. Reveals were too brief and, as a result, anticlimactic. Possibly the most frustrating thing is that, for a book that supposedly takes place in the late 1800 and 1900's, the romantic relationship between the two protagonists feels uncomfortably modern, bordering on a new age, tantric-y, hipsterish vibe that seems strangely out of place. Likewise, while the IDEA behind the circus seems intriguing and fraught with possibility, much of the descriptions of the attractions/performers sound like the author had recently gone to a Cirque du Soleil show and then wrote what she saw into the narrative. Again... That uncomfortably contemporary feel that felt laid onto the era, rather than emanating from within it.
All in all, I think this author has potential. I think she just probably needs more practice and she should, perhaps, consider writing from within an era that she's actually familiar with. This story had potential too but, alas, that's too late to really be realized. From a performance perspective, Jim Dale did a solid, thorough job here, even if sounding a bit too bumpkinish for some of the more "elite" roles in this book. I am not likely to listen to this again.
I found this book to be really enjoyable. It was my first foray into the land of Stephenson, after being referred by a friend, and I'm quite pleased. The story was fantastical yet never felt impossible, thanks to the careful machinations of the author. Great characters, well developed, human and interesting. Held your attention throughout. I thought the narrator did a great job, really conveying distinction between the characters despite their wide diversity. I couldn't stop listening!!
This is one of my favorite pieces of literature. I read the bound version of this series at least twice before listening to it, and the production of the audio version is excellent and enjoyable. Phillip Pullman is not only a brilliant writer, but also a scathing social critic. The story itself is compelling, rich and engaging, but becomes epic when the underlying social commentary is considered.
I read several of the many "this is an anti-God book!!" reviews written by anxious readers regarding this work. I am willing to bet that most of them haven't actually read the whole series and are simply letting either what they've heard about it, or their own discomfort about belief systems being called into question influence their opinions regarding Mr. Pullman's excellent work. If one can take a more global view of the story, it becomes apparent that it is *organized religion* that is being called to task in this series, not any actual (vs. manufactured) manifestation of spirituality itself. In particular, I think it is safe to say that Pullman is especially targeting the powerful, European based, Roman Catholic church and it's historical, well publicized abuses of power. We've all heard the phrase "power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely". THAT'S what this story is really about.
So, from my perspective, there's no need to be afraid to read this book if you are a Christian or any other religious person. On the contrary, I think that it presents an interesting conceptualization of spirituality unconstrained by an over-powerful and convoluted "religious body", unshackled by the guilt and political obligation so inherent in organized religion. The characters are sharp, witty, clever and very well developed. The action is exciting and fast paced, the villains superbly villainous (yet still with some humanity intact, adding to their complexity) and the protagonists deep and committed. This author is a true wordsmith and worthy of your consideration.
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