Okay, this is more like it. I was not a big fan of Mark of the Golden Dragon, so I hesitated about starting Viva Jacquelina, because I didn't want to deal with the disappointment again. So it was a relief to discover that Jacky is back in the fight against Napoleon this time around, with plenty of battles and action. Is it up to par with WotLL or UtJR? No, it isn't (those are tough acts to follow), but this was still an enjoyable listen. Jacky still exhibits plenty of "free and easy ways" with the lads in this outing, but she is much more restrained and focused. She really does seem to be maturing, in my opinion. We get mostly new characters in this book, although Higgins (LOVE him!) and Richard Allen both make appearances early on.
I actually thought that the most interesting parts of Viva Jacquelina were the chapters told from Jaimy's point of view. I was impressed with his growth as a character in WotLL, and while he regressed in MotGD, we get continued character development from him in Viva Jacquelina, and I wish he had gotten more "screen time," because he is turning out to be quite an exciting guy. I wouldn't mind having a whole book told from his perspective, especially given recent developments in his combat skills, which I won't spoil here. Let's just say that he and Jacky are going to be much more evenly matched as characters when they meet up again.
Overall plot aside, my favorite little moment was when Jacky announces herself as "la belle jeune fille sans merci" to a group of French soldiers - I know I won't be the only listener to have cheered out loud to hear Katherine Kellgren growling that phrase in her fiercest Jacky voice once again.
This was a pretty good listen, and we now have quite a buildup of anticipation for the next Jacky/Jaimy reunion. I, for one, can't wait.
Exciting, Suspenseful, BADASS.
So many things! I loved the nautical adventure of the Emerald Storm section. Arista's character development was really great. We also get more back story for both Royce and Hadrian, and I especially liked Hadrian confronting his past in Calis. And of course, the best thing about this series is the wonderful friendship between Hadrian and Royce - a bromance for the ages.
Tim's Royce has to be one of my favorite audiobook characters of all time. Just perfect.
Rise of Empire continues to build on the solid foundation set up in Theft of Swords. Absorbing, fast-paced and spectacularly escapist. You will want to start the next book right away, so make sure you have a credit available before finishing this.
As the title clearly states, Jacky & Co. are back in Boston for this installment, and while I tend to enjoy her sea-faring adventures better than the landlocked tales, this was pretty entertaining. Honestly, with a narrator like Katherine Kellgren, it is kind of impossible NOT to be entertained. She is the absolute best, seamlessly flowing between different accents and genders with a level of skill that I can't even comprehend.
It was nice to see some old friends that we (and Jacky) haven't seen for a while. There were moments in the story that were, surprisingly, incredibly moving (the scene with Tink, and the graduation scene come to mind). This is a long series, so most of us listeners/readers have been with these characters for several years now, so you really feel these moments between the characters.
There is some especially fun stuff with Clarissa, who plays a big role in this book.
Major complaints: Bring back Higgins!! He only appears briefly, and I MISS HIM. Also, the whipping scene at the end? It was really disturbing. I think it was supposed to be funny, but between characters who are supposed to be in a relationship, it was a bit too "domestic violence" for my taste.
My final complaint is that it ends rather abruptly, just as it was getting REALLY good.
We are getting ever closer to Waterloo now, which I expect to close up the series, since it has always revolved around the Napoleonic Wars. I hope this series will have a satisfactory ending, because it has been a fun ride.
I have just finished listening to this entire series (Riyria Revelations and Riyria Chronicles). As the description states, Theft of Swords contains the first two books, Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha. I went into this book not knowing anything about the story of the characters - I just wanted to try something new.
I actually found the first half-to-two thirds of this to be a bit slow. There is a lot of world-building to do, and a lot of characters to introduce. I kept listening simply because the narrator, Tim Gerard Reynolds, is really fantastic. I just really enjoyed the sound of his voice, and the voices he gave to the different characters. I have listened to hundreds of audiobooks, and based on this one series, he has quickly become one of my favorite narrators - right up there with Katherine Kellgren, Simon Vance, Simon Jones and Nick Podehl.
All that said, STICK WITH IT - the story starts to pick up once you get into the Avempartha section. By then you are fully invested in Royce, Hadrian and even Arista and other supporting characters. By the end of this first volume, I was hooked, and the next two volumes (Rise of Empire and Heir of Novron) are wonderfully exciting, funny and completely absorbing. It has been a long time since I have gotten so completely immersed in a series. By the time you finish, Royce, Hadrian and the rest of the gang will seem like old friends that you have gotten so attached to that you won't be ready to say good bye. Good thing there is the prequel series (Riyria Chronicles) to give you a bit more time with them.
Highest recommendation. Get through the first introductory book, and then enjoy the rest of this fantastic series. You will not regret it. Although you might regret the horrible withdrawal you will feel after you've finished all of the books and realize there aren't any more...
I have both read and listened to this entire series, so this review is for all three books in the Chaos Walking trilogy. I read a lot of YA fiction (that's where most of the best sci-fi/fantasy literature is being classified, these days), and on the whole, I have not been impressed with the sloppy, bland prose in many of the more popular series. I decided to try this series because of the narrator, Nick Podehl, who did such a fantastic job narrating the first two books of Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles (The Name of the Wind and Wise Man's Fear).
While I expected another great performance from Nick, I was not prepared for the power of Patrick Ness's writing. I'm not even sure how to describe the effect it had on me. He so effectively portrays the thoughts and feelings of his characters that it is like you are inside their heads to the point where reading or listening to this series can become physically exhausting or exhilarating or terrifying or desperate or confused or sad or whatever the character is going through, because he writes the way that people think, or at least the way that I think.
Normally, when I start a series that has already been completed, I will go through all of the books back to back, but the overwhelming intensity of the story gave me so much to think about and process that I had to take a few week's break between the books. This is not a happy, lighthearted series. It is about the real, deep evil that can exist in human beings. It is also about the innate goodness that can somehow grow even surrounded by this type of evil. It is about friendship, and sacrifice, and the decisions we make, and having to live with the consequences of our decisions. I guess I'm rambling now, so I'll just summarize by saying, this is powerful, breathtaking, thought provoking, important stuff. This story will get inside you, and stick with you long after you've finished it. I hope Patrick Ness continues to give the world more stories.
The writing, the writing, the writing! Patrick Ness is absolutely brilliant!
Nick Podehl was great in Name of the Wind, and Wise Man's Fear, as I mentioned. However, his performance in the Chaos Walking trilogy is gaspingly, jaw-droppingly amazing. I was blown away. The Ask and the Answer, and then Monsters of Men, also feature real powerhouse performances by Angela Dawe and McLeod Andrews that were equally stunning. I plan to look for other audiobooks narrated by Angela and McLeod. This was a rare case of the audiobook living up to, and many times surpassing, my expectations having read the books in print form as well. All three narrators deserve whatever equivalent that the audiobook world has of the Academy Awards.
It would be impossible to pick one, without mentioning major spoilers.
Read this series, or listen to this series. And then tell your friends to read or listen to this series.
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