I like the witches, Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax in particular, and so I enjoyed this book. It is not a standout Discworld title, but it's enjoyable, especially to fans who know a little bit already about these characters and the setting (in Lancre).
Nigel Planer does a fine job with the reading, my problem is with the mixing more than anything. The sound quality changes at a couple of places, and neither is better than the other, but the transition is very jarring. It happens maybe 4 times, so certainly not every paragraph, but still...
Yes, as other reviewers have mentioned, the narrator/protagonist is likeable, but she's not very complete. None of the characters are, which is again something that many reviewers have mentioned, that it's not character driven. And the writing is mediocre, with a lot of disjointed, badly done exposition that is often pretty heavy handed.
Just one damned thing after another aptly describes this book, as it is very episodic, very much "and then this, and then this, and then this..." There is a tenuous story arc, but it feels like a TV series where there's a season long story arc that is briefly touched on in each episode, but each episode is nonetheless a standalone unit, until the season end when the final few episodes are devoted to that arc. The action in this book is a lot like that.
The narrator would be better suited to something without different voices or moments of danger, something more even keel, because she sounds very monotonic throughout. It's usually difficult to tell who's talking, and there's no difference between her drinking a cup of tea and fighting for her life.
I did give this a good chance, listening to over half, enough to see what the plot was driving at. But I found that, with a little under 4 hours left to listen, I just didn't care.
The story, of course, is familiar to most, so I won't comment on that. Elijah Wood is an absolutely flawless narrator! There is a lot of dialect in this book, and it's important to character development, to creating nuance, time and place. In short, the dialects aren't trivial. Elijah Wood does a masterful job of rendering each character in their unique voice, of capturing the subtle difference that Mr. Twain himself identifies as important. This is a telling that merits repeated and regular listenings.
The story isn't bad, it's entertaining, but it's a little transparent, predictable. Wil Wheaton is a fine narrator who matches the book well, but there was nothing particularly outstanidng in his performance. It's not the best example of Scalzi's keen-eyed, sharp-witted modern sci-fi talent, nor of Wil Wheaton's gifts for ascerbic delivery. I found myself being entertained and listening to the end, but never really engaged or rivited or invested in this story or these characters.
Not a bad listen, light and easy, but not exceptional.
I know that most of the reviewers really enjoyed this book, and I found it enjoyable, but there was one important plot detail that I couldn't buy into. How would Joel, a 16-year-old non-specialist, have such a central role (or even unfettered access to the crime scene) in criminal investigation? For myself, it strained credibility, so that as much as I enjoyed the characters and the story, I just couldn't get past that. I've enjoyed other Sanderson books, and I will listen to others again, this just isn't something that I could connect to.
A story that unfolds at its own pace can be really comfortable, something calming that you can look forward to. But at what point does "comfortable" become a bad thing? As I listen, I find that I like it well enough, and the heroine is charming and intelligent, and I like her, but I can only listen for about half an before I'm ready for a change. If I were a commuter, that'd be perfect, but my listening habits are not like that.
The narrator is perfect, she really captures the time and the heroine in her performance. I think she's why I do enjoy it.
The lecture format works particularly well for the ideas he's sharing, preserving a kind of conversational tone with a very conversational lecturer. He presents some fascinating background to modern fantasy and its links to oral tradition and the Victorian age; I had heard these ideas, but never heard them fleshed out quite as well as he does.
One the strengths of this lecture is that he is a fan of fantasy literature, and he can talk about a series being heavily derivative of Tolkein and still say that he's read the series four times and enjoys it still. He also recognizes the magnitude and importance of Tolkein, appreciates his own enjoyment in Tolkein's work, but also reminds us that Tolkein didn't invent the genre, and there are others who have done some things better. Drout balances respect, recognition, criticism, and enjoyment really well.
Listeners should be aware of some spoilers, as Prof. Drout goes through the plots of The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and the Silmarilion in some detail; all books in Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea series; Terry Brooks' Sword of Shannara series; Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series; Robert Holdstock's Mythago Woods series; Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising series; CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia; and TS White's the Once and Future King. He also goes through some Victorian tales in some detail, but these are things that most readers will be familiar with, like Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland/Through the Lookinglass, or they're things that are pretty obscure, like the Princess and the Goblin or Waterbabies.
That being said, his goal is not to remove our enjoyment as readers approaching a story for the first time. He doesn't tell the stories so that, if you read them yourself there will be no suspense, he just talks about how some of the themes that he's talking about, death and language and morality etc, are presented in these books. He really makes the point that fantasy works need to be considered as a whole when he talks about Harry Potter. The series had not been concluded when he gave this lecture, and so he says that it's not fair to consider the series until we know how it ends.
I like this book the best in the series so far. I really like Coyote and Frank as characters, and I appreciate that the belief system in question here is Navajo. The story is very much part of the continuum, picking up threads from the last book and laying a few down for the next. That being said, this story is more focused on one storyline than the first two and less fixated on one storyline than the third. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed all three of the preceeding books, but I find this one the most balanced so far.
Plus, it's got Oberon as his absolute most hilarious!
This book is structured a bit differently from the first two, in that the fight doesn't come to Atticus, he goes to the fight. I enjoyed this book, and there are some fantastic moments (Jesus and Atticus doing shots in the pub, for instance) but it's not my personal favorite. There's a little more depth and consequence and a little less Oberon that the first two.
That being said, it is still a good lot of fun. I really enjoyed the fourth book in the series, Tricked, and there are things in that book that will make no sense without having read this book. And even though he does leave Arizona for a lot of the book, he still spends like 70% of the book in Tempe with all the regular characters. And of course his time in Tempe is never laid back and care free, so there's plenty of action throughout.
This is one of those really great, entertaining stories, not too heavy but enough meat to be engaging all the way through. My favorite stories are usually character driven, and this is no exception. Atticus is credible as a 2,100 year old Druid who has mastered the art of moving with the times, and his relationships with the witches, his attorneys (a vampire and a werewolf), the Irish Pantheon, and his fantastic dog keep this story moving right along.
The dog, an Irish wolfhound named Oberon, needs a special mention, because he talks to Atticus, and as my sister describes him, he is a dog in a dog suit. He loves Atticus, he thinks werewolves are bitchy, he is a voracious sausage eater, and he dreams of French poodles. Best sidekick every!
The story is never too graphic with either sex or violence, though both are part of it. There is swearing, but it's not every other word, and it's appropriate to the context. The author is still working, so there is one or two new stories every year, which is nice for a series. In short, this is a good choice for grown-up Neil Gaiman fans who want something with a little more levity.
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