This was an excellent book. While, as others have observed, the story is clearly not the same as either of American Gods or Harry Potter, it has a feel or atmosphere with the best elements of both. The themes in this book also have some commonality with both. In any event, in deference to Card, his story seems to have much earlier conceptual roots than either of the other two. I found this book to be every bit as enjoyable (so far) as Ender, although the genre is different in that this book is not Sci Fi.
I appreciated the warning given by some of the other reviewers that this book does not complete the story. It is a beginning, and a great one at that. Still, it was good to listen to the book with that expectation in mind.
Stefan Rudnicki and Emily Janice Card were exceptional narrators. Stefan Rudnicki did the Enders series books as well. Any story he reads almost automatically goes up a star in my mind. Emily Card also did some of the narration in Ender in Exile. I very much enjoyed listening to her performance, and after hearing her narrate this book, I will be looking for more material where she is a narrator.
Overall a very good addition to the Kris Longknife saga, although the story periodically switches between something that feels like a Harlequin romance and something else that feels like a battle from Master and Commander. On the one hand, Kris and Jack finally get married and Mike Shepherd provides a fairly graphic description of their "honeymoon activities". Based on that alone, this story is decidedly not PG. On the other hand, the battles, particularly the last one, are exciting (in a much different way) but are described in a similar level of "high" detail. The story has some interesting and colorful cross references to events from the Jump Universe series although it is not at all necessary to have read that series for context It also has a satisfying ending while leaving strong hints about the next book.
While the earlier books in this series provide stories that are a mix of politics, interpersonal relations, fighting and sci fi, this story is almost pure political intrigue. Coming into this story I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the various characters and what they were about. This book provides a good reminder that a reader should never get too comfortable. Bren is suddenly cut out of the loop by Tabini. The mutiny against Captain Ramirez may or may not have been what we thought it was. By the time this story had concluded I found myself wondering about Tabini, Jason, Sabin, and Captain Ramirez just to name a few. I have not listened to the next book in the series yet, but this one certainly seems to set things up nicely for C. J. Cherryh to blow things up again so she can put back the pieces in a new and clever way. You may as well buy the next book along with this one. There is no way to finish this one and not be compelled to found out what happens next!
This is a solid continuation of the story line revolving around Charis, Merlin and King Cayleb. It adds new depth to the characters that have already been introduced and picks up a couple of new ones that are moderately interesting. On the other hand, humanity has a long way to go before it gets back to the stars to confront the Gbaba. At the end of this book I was left with the feeling that the current portion story line was going to be dragging on for too long. I would have preferred to see this book wrap things up and set up a new aspect of the story. Unfortunately, that does not happen. While I am glad I spent the credits and I enjoyed the listen I will almost certainly pass on the next two books and wait to see if the story line moves on. As to the reader, while he was not bad I preferred Oliver Wyman's interpretation.
This was an excellent continuation of Game of Thrones. One thing that takes some getting used to however is the way that the author moves between chapters. Just as a chapter reaches a climax it ends and the author moves on to a different part of the story. It was kind of like "she stood there with the sword poised above his neck. ... Meanwhile, back in the 100 acre woods ...". Nevertheless, the book was very well written and you can just feel the changes comming into the word as magic re-emerges and conflicts proliferate. I also very much enjoyed the way that the characters reveal their complex nature. For example, "The Hound" reveals an emotional side that I did not at all expect and by the end of the book Arya seems to be turning into an somewhat of an assasin. Book three here I come.
While many commentators felt that this book was too long, I did not. Much of the time was filled with sub-stories and stories where the story teller tells a story. I found most of these facsinating in their own right. I must admit that some editing could have been used in the latter parts of the book, but overall I still found myself drawn in and intrigued. Of course I am now even more worried about Kvoth and what will become of him, but that is just the sign of a good story!
While the theories in this book are certainly interesting they are heavily based on conjecture and belief. Many times throughout the book the author starts his argument with "many scientists believe" or "the majority of scientists believe". While I give him kudos for at least starting off with this admission, it seemed to me that one set of beliefs were being built on another to develop theories that, while intriguing, are by their nature not likely to ever be provable or disprovable. To me, that is where the "science" becomes religion. I suppose that this is the source of my discomfort with the book. I enjoyed the discussion of the underlying science but the way it was presented made it seem that the author wanted the reader to accept as true, conclusions that are based on what amounts to a belief system. All in all this book did an excellent job in explaining the current thinking of some of our brightest scientists. On the other hand, it left me feeling that perhaps there is a line being crossed here that the author was not quite willing to admit it.
While some of the explanations of brain physiology seemed a bit more complex than necessary to build a foundation for later chapters, the book was still quite fascinating. No one should be fooled into thinking that this is light reading/listening though. The author gives about as deep of a treatment of the neuroscience behind subjects such as why we dream, how we form memories and why we fall in love as a college educated lay person can handle. On the other hand, the author's insistence that the brain is an inefficient kludge was not supported at any reasonable scientific level. For example, the comparisons of the speed of neuro-transmission to the speed of electrons over copper wire, and the focus on agglomeration of newer and ancient brain structures that have some overlap do not make the case for inefficiency. Nevertheless, this is not the focus of the book. Well worth the credit for anyone interested in understanding the science.
This is a great listen for fans of military science fiction novels. The narrator (who I beleive also does the voice for most of the Ender's Game series of novels) makes listening to the story even more enjoyable.
I enjoyed the way these stories provide background for some of the characters in Enderverse. Readers should be aware that the original version of Ender's Game provided in this book is a shortened one that picks up on the middle of the full version (that I assume was written later).
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