I don't like novellas, but these three are a glorious exception to the rule. Each one is unique and stands out for it's own reasons. The last story (after which the book is titled) is particularly stunning.
I loved the purring blanket... The psychological interplay between Miles and Mark is simply brilliant. Plus much, much more.
How would that work? Ethan of Athos, follows naturally on Cetaganda because both stories are a meditation on the nature of reproduction without sex, and the role that men, women, and sex could have in the process; what might happen if the unscrupulous get hold of the process, and so on. Of course, all Bujold's books are also liberally drenched in nail biting action, wicked plot twists, great humor, and excellent characters. We meet Ellie Quinn (sic?) again, for example. I think Bujold is incapable of producing a bad book or character, and Grover Gardner is incapable of interpreting her work with anything less than perfect pitch.
By what means do individuals and groups get others to do their bidding? An ancient question. Cetaganda is a fresh and thoroughly entertaining response to that old question. Of course, there is much more to the book: stunning visuals, amazing plot twists, lots of action, and totally absorbing dialogue. Bujold did it again. Grover Gardner's delivery is - as always - a perfect match for this series.
If a character in one of Bujold's novels has a name, it is memorable. No matter how many there are. Each one of them stands out in memory, wether sketched with a few deft strokes, or lovingly created through layer after astounding layer. All that nailbiting action can distract one from the fact that everything in the novel is driven by the particular nature of these amazing characters. I'll never scoff at "Character-Driven" again!
The characters are the best. You deeply care about each one of them. The story is heartbreaking but gripping. The subject-matter touches all of us, and the narrator is perfect for this story.
... and all hell breaks loose of course. With the usual panache and character development that we've come to expect of Bujold. A great read.
Grover Gardner's reading is competent and did not interfere with my enjoyment of the book.
McMaster Bujold's characters are truly vivid and deliciously complex. Always something more to enjoy. I have read most of her Sci-Fi works - and loved them. Now I realize its not the Sci-Fi I loved so much (interesting as it is) but the characters. Bujold definitely does not disappoint in the Chalion series; and Paladin of Souls is another cabinet of wonders added to her already formidable collection of formidable characters.
Kate Reading's performance is pitch-perfect. She gave true voice to Issta and Lys (sic?). She interpreted the vast array of other characters with great panache and variety.
I am thoroughly pleased!
McMaster Bujold at her best again. Nothing to add to that - the story is simply terrific.
Many reviewers complained about Lloyd James' narration. I suppose, if one has already read the book and imagined different voices for the characters, it could pose a problem. But since this was the first time I encountered the story, I found his rendition just perfect. Not cartoonish, not halting; just perfect.
Actually, Frederick Davidson has a beautiful voice. It's just completely the wrong voice: for first-person Merlin narration, and also for the era being depicted. Davidson's voice would be perfectly suited for Victorian era tales (George Bernard Shaw, Edgar Alan Poe, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, etc). But definitely NOT for the England of the Arthurian age!
The narrator of the previous book in the series, Nadia May (Taliesin), was absolutely perfect for the job! I think it would not have taken listeners long to forget that a woman was reading Merlin in the first person.
Unfortunately, I simply could not listen to a "Merlin" who sounded like a Victorian person of high birth. I won't be listening to the rest of the series either, because Davidson is the narrator for all of them. Perhaps I will get it in print some day - when I can get a large print edition or something.
I'm sure the story is great. "Taliesin" was wonderful.
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