I have tried to listen to this book 3 times now, and the last two times I get so frustrated with not being able to follow the dialogue that I quit in less than 30 minutes. I gave the story 2 stars but, honestly, I don't know whether it is good or bad. I'm going to borrow the book from the library and read it so I can listen to the other 2 books in the series which are read by Jennifer Van Dyck.
Susan Ericksen is on my list of never listening to ever again. In fact, she is the first one on the list. All of her characters sound the same, the women sound like men, everyone sounds like he has angry all the time, and there's as much nuance to her reading as a reading of names at a high school graduation. Don't get me started on her lack of preparation for reading the **fourth** book in a series after the first 3 were so capably read by JVD. If nothing else, she should have learned how to pronounce names the way a listener of the first 3 books expected them to be pronounced. Maybe she will be a good reader someday, but I will never know.
If you liked the first 3 audio books in the series, my recommendation is to skip this one and read a print copy. Then pick up the audio books for books 5 & 6 which have JVD reading them.
To the publisher: Don't change the narrator for a series - ever. We'll wait for the audio book if there is a scheduling problem. Look at the reviews for Jim Butcher's "Ghost Story" audio, which did not have James Marsters reading it. John Glover isn't bad, but he isn't the guy who has read the 12 books before that one. Someone in management made a dumb decision when he or she decided to replace JVD with S.E., and I personally think you should have JVD read "Kings of the North" and then give it for free to all the people who bought this awful version.
The book itself is a continuation of a larger plot line,so it doesn't stand alone. It is a good story, although it is a bit one dimensional in that the characters are running from death the entire book. What makes the book enjoyable is the fact that the characters besides Atticus are becoming 3 dimensional. As part of the whole, it is a satisfying read. If you like the Iron Druid series - which you must if you're reading book 6 - this one is worth a credit.
Also, I have to give praise to Luke Daniels. This is definitely *not* an easy book to narrate. There are lots of characters, lots of nationalities, lots of personalities, and lots of interplay between them. Daniels does a superlative job keeping all of them straight and making easy to know who is saying what, even when there are complicated conversations between multiple characters. He has gone to the top of my list of preferred readers, alongside Nathaniel Parker (Artemis Fowl series) and James Marsters (The Dresden Files) as a result of this book. I am now looking at other series just because he is the reader.
After 2 decades and 14 books, the Wheel of Time series reaches a conclusion. It's a satisfying conclusion too. There are characters who I was sad to see die, and some that made me cackle in evil glee when they got their just reward. All of the Forsaken have their stories concluded in appropriate ways, and the yin-yang of Life returns to a balance after so long being out of balance. And for closet sentimentalists like me, there were some happy endings in the wake of the Last Battle.
Brandon Sanderson did a fine job concluding the series for Robert Jordan. If perhaps more of Sanderson's style than Jordan's can be seen in A Memory of Light, I think it worked well. The chapter "The Last Battle" was an inspired piece of story telling. I have never seen any author take such a complicated set of scenes, locations, characters, and plots and weave them into a cohesive whole. He was working with all the aspects of the One Power at once.
This book makes me want to start the whole series over again.
This is not one of E. E. "Doc" Smith's best works, but if you have read the 3 previous books, it you will probably want to read this one to complete the story. My one main gripe is that after awhile "incalculable" becomes cliche'd, and running back and forth all over the entire known universe in short periods of time becomes hard for even a diehard sci-fi fan to suspend disbelief.
Reed McColm does a good job in this performance. He provides a lot of energy to the reading, and I kind of found myself eager to get back to the car to pick up the story because he reawakens the wide-eyed wonder of my childhood reading these old stories from the early days of pulp science fiction. It is obvious that he enjoys these stories himself, and that redeems this audio book to the point where I am sure I will listen to it again in a few years.
Overall, as an audio book performance, this book is an enjoyable listen. Just don't expect great depth of character or ideas that make you stop and think. It is worth a credit, though.
I am just now reading Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot mysteries after close to 3 decades of my wife recommending them to me. With the discount, they are under $10, and after listening to "The Mysterious Affair at Styles", I was hooked. The stories are well written with no "secret doors" to foil the listener's attempt to solve the mystery before the detective does. "Murder on the Orient Express" is a classic, but Christie's books are still in print as much as 70 years after they were first published for good reason.
David Suchet is a marvelous reader! His accents don't sound contrived, his voice is excellent to listen to for hours, and in this particular book where there are multiple characters speaking in a conversation, he excels at providing each character with his or her own personality. He ranks in the top 10 readers out of the 150+ audio books I currently have in my library, and it was his performance that convinced me to buy more Agatha Christie audio books.
This book has laugh out loud jokes, subtle pokes at various people that you'll miss if you aren't paying attention, and rich characters that make you want to look at the Flagstaff phone book to see if they're real. It was a very entertaining way to spend my time.
Luke Daniels has risen in my list of preferred readers. He did an outstanding job in this book.
This was one of my favorites of the series when I read the book the first time, and I am being reminded why. The series really begins to take shape with this book. The characters are richer, fuller, and more real with lives prior to when they met Harry. Harry gets a sidekick who can kick butt while also being Harry's moral anchor. It's becoming clear that Harry is being guided/pushed by more than random chance too. I read the book about 3 years ago, and I am finding new clues and bits of information I didn't pick up the first time. Butcher has definitely figured out where Harry Dresden is going at least in the near term when he wrote this book, and he weaves an intricate tale with an obviously growing skill in his craft.
Marsters is coming into his own too. The recording is still quite breathy, but he saves the sighs and long expelled breaths for when it makes sense for the dialog. Marsters seems to be getting a sense of the characters because he is varying their accents and speech patterns more. All in all, the performance has improved significantly with each book.
One piece of advice: Pay attention to the details in this story. The information will come in handy when you read "Ghost Story."
I was in my late 40's when I first listened to Artemis Fowl, and while it is a book targeted to the juvenile market, it is easily one of the most enjoyable books I have read in years. Besides having an intriguing cosmos in which fairies are real and living around us, Nathaniel Parker breathes life into all the characters. Each character's dialogue has a different style and cadence of delivery so that not only can I distinguish who is talking but also hear their individual personalities in their speech. Parker is one of the most gifted readers, if not even nearly unique, I have ever heard in that respect. For me, his reading is why I like the Artemis Fowl books so much.
The story is excellent too, though. Perhaps it is my Irish heritage, but Irish authors just seem to have a wickedly twisted, funny way of perceiving the universe that draws me into their stories. Artemis Fowl has a lot of wit and humor in it, often at the expense of the dour, controlled Artemis himself. There were multiple times when I am sure the drivers in cars next to me were wondering why I was laughing so hard. This book, and the others that followed, took me away from the drudgery of driving in rush hour traffic and made those hours fly by so fast that I was surprised at how quickly I arrived in my driveway. I can't think of higher praise than that.
My wife has been reading books by Patricia Briggs for years. I was looking for a new author, and she recommended this series. My first rule is that the characters have to be believable. Like them or not, I have to feel like they have internal consistency in their thinking and actions and that everything they do derives from what their life has been like up to the point the story starts.
That requires the author to have a pretty well-fleshed out back history, and it is clear Ms. Briggs has that with Mercy. The story makes sense without a lot of suspension of disbelief. Even the whole werewolf psychology she develops is logical given a few assumptions. All in all, this book hooked me on the whole series, to which I listened one after the other for 6 weeks while driving 2 hours a day commuting to work. I bought book 2 when I was about a 3rd of the way through this book, and after book 2, I bought the other 4 all at once. They are not all great books, but they are certainly worth a credit and the time to listen to them.
Also, I'd like to give a nod to Lorelei King. She "gets" Mercy's personality, and she really brings it to life. Her voices for other characters are good enough that I can tell who is talking all the time too. She is on the list of readers who could get me to try a book just because she is reading it.
I loved Frank Herbert's original Dune trilogy, and I have read it multiple times in the last 30 years. This book, however, just does not make me want to finish it, much less read the rest of the trilogy. The Harkonnens are evil, power hungry monsters. The Atreides are good, altruistic, defenders of humanity. I get it. Unfortunately, the characters in this book are more like 2 dimensional graphic novel evil bad guys and heroic good guys than the complex, thinking, conflicted characters that populate the original Dune. I listened to about 3 hours, and when even Scott Brick, whom I have liked multiple other books, couldn't seem to find any enthusiasm for reading it, I turned it off. I doubt seriously that I will ever listen to it again.
It is clear that Jim Butcher has not mastered his craft yet if you read this book a second time after having read the others, as I am doing now. It is, however, clear he is on his way towards that mastery. His talent is in creating characters that are real - people you would recognize if you passed them on the street in Chicago. This story is very good in that respect. It is a good enough mystery that, while I knew who the bad guy was from a previous reading, it was still interesting to see the clues I had missed the first time through. Any writer who can weave a plot intricate enough to hold together even when the reader knows the outcome is worthy of ignoring some of the imperfections of his sophomore effort. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book a second time.
James Marsters is getting comfortable as Harry too. He's got the snarky sense of humor down. The one thing I wish he would do is give some more audible clues about which character is talking. There are some times when I had to go back 30 seconds to pick up who said what when I got distracted by traffic. Still, Marsters *is* Harry Dresden as far as I'm concerned.
The audio engineering for this book is far superior to "Storm Front". You can still hear Marsters' breathing, swallowing, and other mouth noises, but most of the time, it fits what is happening in the story. I noticed it most when I was listening with good quality headphones and not at all when I was driving in the car. All in all, the engineering has reached the level where it doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the story now.
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