When the author enlists his 'friend' to help him conquer his fear of going into the canyon. That episode is an adolescent adventure worthy of Tom Sawyer. That unexpected sense of "victory or death" at its conclusion had me laughing out loud.
The theme that I, and I suspect many men, can relate to so easily is that of having great advice regularly pressed upon you, but without the ability to comprehend the advice until it's in hindsight. Halpern captures this perfectly, and you come away feeling like he told part of your story too.
Dodger may be one of Sir Terry's best works to date. A historical fiction set in London, it takes the listener not only on a coming of age adventure with a somewhat "Nobbs" inspired character (albeit a much less pox riddled and more responsible version thereof), but also through a tour of life for the commoner in Victorian England. The story is gripping, the characters deep and relatable, and as with all things Pratchett: it's funny, fast paced, thoughtful and very entertaining. If you only have one credit to spend, get Dodger.
I don't care for his narration style, he tries to go out of his way to make everything sound dramatic, like every line is being read from the declaration of independence or something.
It inspired me to write this review. The writing is very one dimensional, character development is weak and you end up not really caring about the main players. The author does not have a firm grasp of writing political intrigue, interpersonal relationships, or in my opinion, compelling story lines. Not that there aren't interesting aspects of Sanderson's world, the magic system is unique and the creatures he describes are interesting, but you never really feel like you have a firm grasp of the world that these people live in. It rains ash through the day, one must assume from volcanic activity, and it is misty at night. That's all the information that you are going to get. The characters get a similar treatment, you get enough backstory to explain their actions in the moment, and in the case of Vin I suppose its a little more fleshed out, but it lacks any kind of real human touches. Everything that happened before was bad, in fact horrible, yet now the characters can stop pulling "scams" (... really?... that's the best term available for a system of organized crime that has had 1000 years to perfect their trade?...) and know what is right and virtuous and how the world should work?
Anyway, the book just isn't good. Kelsier isn't particularly likable, and his death toward the end of the book isn't particularly jarring as a result. Vin's love interest is not likeable, and his ascension to kingship in the midst of those circumstances is so unlikely as to completely undermine the motivations of the oppressed masses, which you learn very little about except that they are exactly like the nobility in every way except, apparently, the way they dress. I am sure that may people will disagree with me about this, apparently this series is quite popular. Just to clarify my own position, I like fantasy in general, and new and exciting twists on the tired, old, knights and wizards type of story. This is an attempt to break away from that, but not well executed.
The messages of the book, which in general revolve around being fair and kind and rationally addressing situations to affect a win-win outcome are, generally, good advice and still relevant in the modern world on a personal level.
However, the times that the author lived in and the attitudes of the culture in this country at the time of his writing make it read more like a folksy, period piece. What one can see is that modern day companies have taken to heart the tenets of Winning Friends and Influencing People, but have stripped the ideas down to a facade of themselves, and hollowed out any actual human warmth or altruism that they contained.
Carnegie's book could be a stand in for the 'Code of Conduct' in most corporate headquarters in America today. In effect, though, they are parodies of the ideas presented in the book, and leave most people feeling suspicious, that they are being pandered to, and generally deceived.
Another unfortunate blind spot by the author, largely owing to his age and the time, is the incessant inclusion of religious analogy and inference. It would not be out of line to add the tag line to the title " ... if you are a right and good Christian".
...in that, he never takes a book off. Every once in a while, I see a title from him and it gives me pause "Football... or, in American culture, soccer...?" But, its Pratchett telling the story, and I read on. I was not disappointed in the least. UA is funny, entertaining and has the hallmark real-world undercurrent, this time its social justice, which always give his stories weight and substance. Since Terry has no peers, and thus it is impossible to compare his work against anything other than his previous work, I would give this book an 8 out of 10 on the Pratchett scale. Read it. In fact, read them all.
This is a 3 story volume, and I must admin that I only bought it because of the story by George R.R. Martin. I did want to hear the McCaffrey and Feist stories too, in the hopes of finding more authors that I like. In The Hedge Knight, I was not disappointed. If you have read any of the Song of Ice and Fire series, you will enjoy this mini-prequal. GRRM truly is one of the masters of fantasy.
However, the Runner of Pern is a predictable, contrived, and uninteresting girl-meets-boy love story. I had never read any of the Pern series, and this was not a positive first experience. She is a good enough writer, but the premise of the story leaves something to be desired.
The Wood Boy by Raymond Feist is terrible... the characters are 1 dimensional cliches of fantasy fiction. The "plot", if you want to call it that, is completely absent until the last 10 minutes of the story. What makes it worse is that the author had, up until that point, described a moderately interesting world for the protagonist. Dont waste your time.
My recommendation would be to buy this if you appreciate the fantastic work of George R.R. Martin. The other two get a free ride, but should be ignored unless you need something to fall asleep to.
The beauty of Freakonomics is that its authors have come to many of these subjects with no preconcieved notions as to what they will find.
They are curious, gather data, and then simply relate to you what that data contained. No opinion, just good solid research. And it is absolutely facinating, and a must listen for anyone who has ever wondered 'Is this really what it seems?' or 'Am I being preyed upon because I care about things?'. You will be surprised, saddened, shocked, and entertained.
The narration is excellent, and you will likely find youself unable to stop listening. I have spent quite a bit of time sitting in my driveway, not wanting to miss the reveals.
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