Butcher's best yet, I think. The author has shown what can be accomplished by patient writing and patient reading. I suppose you can pick up any of these novels and read/listen as a stand alone, but I can't imagine this volume having half the meaning and beauty it does without the preceding three. Butcher excels in slowly setting up events that have extraordinary power when they finally unfold.
Most interesting and entertaining read I've had from Card in a while. The gist of the ending of this story was pretty predictable but I didn't mind. This story was pretty much about "getting there" from the beginning. I'm not wild about the theory of time Card opted to work with--and it proved to be pretty confusing in places--but the decision to go with a theory that is not "the usual" was, overall, a positive. In some ways, the story would have worked better as a magic-driven story rather than as a science-driven story. The intricacies of how time-manipulation work reminded me of some of the more complex magic systems in fantasy fiction. You need multiple volumes to sort it out.
Thoughts on the readers:
The one section from Loaf's point of view: overly theatrical. Dial it down a notch.
Otherwise, the reading was quite good. I don't see the need for multiple readers--any one good reader could have done the entire book just fine.
Sproul's style is consistently thoughtful and concise--and occasionally humorous. As a high level fly-over of the history of philosophy and the great questions philosophers have attempted to answer, the book was a delight. I found it very helpful.
Another reviewer wrote:
"It is an irresponsible and calculated attack on free thinking. It is laughable for anyone with even a small understanding of philosophy, but potentially damaging to a young mind in search of a rational way to look at the world around us."
Nothing in this irenic book can be construed as an attack until you get to Jean Paul Sartre, and then the historical/athropological philosophies of Marx and Freud. Even then, what Sproul offers is rational analysis and critique.
Since when is a cogent counterargument "potentially damaging" to anybody's mind? If Sproul's arguments are faulty, readers need only reject them.
"Free thought" does not dismiss anybody's ideas as "potentially damaging" and "propaganda."
I dare any reader of any age to read this "potentially damaging" book... if they think they can handle it.
I'm also a Brooks fan but this installment was the weakest I've read from him in some time. I doubt this gets to Terry or his publishers, but, FWIW: when you start a novel with no intention of resolving most (any?) of its major conflicts, your story telling tends to lack a sense of urgency and pressure toward tightness.
Brooks overcame this quite well in the Genesis series, I thought. At least the beautiful moments between characters and the occasional unexpected nuances in the characters' motivations kept me from noticing any lack of focus and tension in the story.
But this installment had one beautiful moment for me (the young tracker and his younger friend) or maybe two. And the motivations here are too much of the "use-of-power angst" Brooks relies on so frequently.... (Just once I'd love to see a Brooks character who has the mantle of power and responsibility thrown on him/her embrace it with enthusiasm... and have his/her inner conflict be about how to use it most wisely or win the support of others for his/her agenda or avoid the jealousy of peers, etc. There is something pretty close to this in the High Druid series... which was refreshing.)
There are a few places in this volume where characters say things that are not consistent with their previous thoughts... like someone was not editing very alertly. (E.g., why would a staff bearer reflect that he has heard all the stories about him everywhere he goes then later ask a couple of trackers how they know so much about him? Writers make these kinds of mistakes; editors should catch them. Perhaps the staff bearer was just trying to create some tension? A brief note to that effect solves the problem.)
I will probably read on in the series, but mostly because I'm curious to see if Brooks recovers his stride in the next installment.
For those thinking about diving in, some clarifications may help: the entire series is the story of Tavi (and a set of secondary, complex and memorable characters). The subgenre is almost alternative history in which the world takes a very different course after Rome. But the relationship to "real" Rome and real world history is vague and not very important to the story. However, the feel is very Roman indeed and the stories are interesting even if you're just a fan of things Roman.
If you're not, don't let that turn you off, though. The Roman setting is just the setting. The drama comes from the characters, their dilemmas, their struggles and their growth.
But there is plenty of action and suspense in the series as well. (There is also more romance than I find appealing, but things always get interesting again soon enough!)
Next to Summer Knight, this one is my favorite Dresden so far.
[spoiler alert] What could possibly be cooler than a zombie T Rex? [/end spoiler]
But I appreciated as well the surprisingly thoughtful moments about the meaning of death and why it might not be a good idea for mere mortals to try to rid the world of it.
Other story elements completely surprised me.
Add in the usual humor... fun read. Once I hit the 1/3 through mark, could not put it down.
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