Death is one of my favorite characters in the Discworld series. He is second only to The Luggage. I have discovered that the reason for this is that these characters, especially The Luggage without his own dialogue or facial expressions, require Pratchett to be more creative and bring out the best in his wit. "Mort" is all about Death. And his apprentice, of course.
Maybe I was coming off the hangover from suffering through "Equal Rites," causing me to laugh at anything remotely funny, or that was better than the third installation of the Discworld series --- but, geez was "Mort" funny! You are greeted with old characters: Death, Isabelle, and even Rincewind at one point, and new ones: Mort, Albert, the princess, and Cutwell.
Without going into much detail, Mort becomes Death's apprentice and hilarity ensues. The young Mort struggles with suddenly being thrust into Death's "There is no justice, there is just me" world and his mistakes have grave consequences for the Discworld and for Death.
I most enjoyed reading (hearing?) about Death's escapades while Mort took over the Deathly duties. Death desperately wanted a break from "Death-ing" and Pratchett's descriptions of Death's interactions with the world at large are unrivaled.
If you enjoy lighthearted hilarity mixed with a strong morbid theme, combined with Pratchett's signature wit, you will love this next installment of the Discworld series. And thankfully, Nigel Planer has returned to guide us through this world in a way that only he can.
I should have stopped after the first book. I knew I should have stopped. But Sanderson receives such high marks for his writing that I thought I must have been missing something, or maybe was expecting too much. Nope. Even with my far-reduced expectations, Sanderson is still not a good writer.
Most of this story is a siege. A stand-off. It is contrived, unrealistic, and dull.
The characters were multi-faceted in "The Final Empire." In "Well of Ascension," they've been reduced to their one allomantic power. And those who aren't allomancers? They're nearly useless. Even the feruchemie is written as as an inferior skill.
The dialogue is made up of the following: "Blah, blah, blah," Vin SAID. "Oh, Blah, blah, blah," Elend SAID. Then "Vin SAID" then "Elend SAID" and on and on and on. Is it really that difficult to write creatively? Adverbs maybe? Synonyms for "said"? But no ... Sanderson phones it in on his dialogue every single time.
Sanderson repeats facts, or scenes, or pieces of the plot-puzzle too many times, and he chooses those facts, scenes, or pieces that require no repeating - we will remember that Sazed is a Keeper and can store information in his metal minds. I do not require reminding of that every time he enters a scene.
The writing suffers from more than just poor editing. Rather than let the story and characters propel the plot, he TELLS the reader what is happening. There is no illustration in his writing, unless it's to describe gore or battle scenes. I am fine with those things, but when that is the only strength to a fantasy novel that purports to provide a story with multiple complex "magic" systems, multiple deities, and various powers struggling for control ... I expect more.
I cannot end this review, however, without mentioning the incredible talent possessed by Michael Kramer. It was his narration that helped me survive the Wheel of Time series, and it is his narration that helped me through these books as well. If I dare waste a credit on any of Sanderson's other novels, it will be only due to Kramer's devoted narration.
I didn't know what to expect from my first Neil Gaiman book: American Gods. I heard amazing things about Gaiman before this, I read "Good Omens" written with Terry Pratchett, and I love the sci-fi/fantasy genre, so it was bound to be a match made in heaven. And it certainly was.
Gaiman has made a single book out of multiple different tales, and in the process presents an image of America the way only someone coming from the outside possibly could. I enjoyed the digressions into American history and the histories of some gods. But I especially loved Shadow and Wednesday. Their characters are so well-developed that you sit in the story with them as you listen.
The performance is fantastic. I was hesitant (skeptical, really) about a "Full Cast Production" of an audio book. I'm not terribly fond of most female readers, and I've grown comfortable with the drone of a single reader doing multiple voices. On this issue, I was very, VERY wrong to be so cautious. The reading is spectacular. The use of different readers for each character gave this book so much more life, and actually enhanced certain parts of the book, as there are sections where the identity of the acting character is only implied... with the different readers, it felt like I had inside information that made those sections even more interesting.
One note, I was initially a little shocked by how sexually graphic some of the "worship" scenes were - not enough to minimize my appreciation of the book, but certainly not what I expected to be listening to while driving down the freeway at 70 MPH. Luckily, I'm always alone when listening to books, so I didn't have to worry about these scenes being witnessed by the wrong audience. And although for me it didn't detract from the story (enhanced it in many ways), some more sensitive readers may feel differently.
Bottom line: A great read. Worth every minute.
I have struggled with how to rate and review this book. I think because I love my dogs in such an extreme way, any book that delves so deeply into the fleeting yet ironclad relationship between a dog and owner will be tough for me to read. So, I have tried to be as objective as possible in some respects, and to temper my emotional response to this book.
I'll start with the performance: Phenomenal. This is the first book I've listened to with Christopher Welch as the narrator, and I am going to look for more books that he has narrated. He was amazing. Welch managed to capture every single voice, male and female, in a believable way that made the listening experience very pleasant. And his voice for the primary character, Enzo, was impeccable. Welch captured every bit of emotion that the writer clearly wished to convey. I don't cry over books or movies easily, so I have the sense that my emotional response to this story would not have been nearly as strong, if not for Welch's stellar narration.
The story is very well-written. The perspective is clever, as the entire story is told through the dog's eyes. Enzo wants to be human, and thinks like a human, thus his perspective has been quite anthropomorphized - but that is part of the story. He tells us the tale of his own life, thereby narrating the tale of his master's life. And it is quite a life. The writing is meticulous and perfectly embodies the emotion that the author wishes to convey. I enjoyed the dog's personality, and some parts really made me laugh, as they were so perfectly written to describe mannerisms and activities that are often seen in my own dogs.
So why three stars for the story? Much of it was predictable. The foreshadowing was too obvious in many places. It was very emotional (see above) which made it difficult to enjoy the story for its merits, as I was too busy trying not to bawl as I drove down the freeway. After my first two hour drive with the book, I made it a "listen at home only" book and just listened to it when I had free time or when I was walking the dog. So, for my purposes - staying awake on a long commute - the story didn't fit the bill. I could go into more detail, but I don't want to add any spoilers in here. Suffice it to say, I needed something more lighthearted and less real. (I should also note here that my occupation also prejudices me against the book, as I deal with one of the main storylines on a regular basis, and I read to escape my life, not relive it.)
The bottom line? If you like a good cry, read this book. If you love dogs, and can handle the emotional side of dog ownership, read this book. If you listen to audiobooks in public and tend to think your dogs are people too, save this one for a rainy day.
I was introduced to Terry Pratchett through the Discworld series. I love the series, but really wanted something outside that realm from Pratchett - imagine my excitement when I found out about this new release ...
Set in Pratchett's slightly modified historical version of the early 1800's in impoverished London, this novel is a true demonstration of the amazing storytelling abilities possessed by Terry Pratchett. He gives us the tale of "Dodger" - a poor Londoner who spends his days scouring the sewers for washed away treasures - and his rise to renown throughout London. The tale itself is surprisingly simple, but what it lacks in depth in terms of the story it makes up for in its creativity and wit. As usual, Pratchett does not "talk down" to his readers. He assumes their intelligence and ability to keep up with the dialects and humor, which I appreciate about his writing in every one of his novels. This story is full of adventure and excitement, and a very pleasant read (listen) that is simply entertaining.
The performance was equally captivating. Briggs does a fantastic job with each accent, and makes the characters come alive in such a way, that one would think the novel was written to be read aloud to the reader. This was one of the first novels I've listened to, for which the performance was so good, I can't imagine having read the book myself. I think a huge part of the entertainment value would have been lacking.
Pratchett indicates that part of his motivation for writing this novel was to awaken the reader's consciousness to the world of 19th century London, with its stark socioeconomic dichotomy and the amazing strength of character that the poorest in the population exhibited. Mr. Pratchett, you achieved your goal in a spectacular way. You made the grey, grimy London backdrop come alive in a way that Dickens only dreamed of. Not only am I eager to read more of your books, I am eager to explore more novels - fiction and non-fiction, historical and fantasy - set in this era and in London, including the works of Henry Mayhew. Well done.
Sadly, this was, as my title suggests, an absolute disappointment. I started listening to the Discworld series because of Terry Pratchett's collaboration with Neil Gaiman on "Good Omens." I loved the wit so much, which I learned came from Pratchett, that I was magnetically drawn to anything Pratchett --- as it turned out, the only thing Pratchett was the Discworld series. Halfway through Book 1, I understood it, and I started laughing. That continued through Book 2.
It all came to an abrupt halt with Book 3: Equal Rites. The problem starts with the narrator: as a female, it is really tough to say this, BUT - I find it difficult to come to grips with female narrators. I prefer to listen to the male narrators. They seem more anonymous and more versatile. Celia Imrie wasn't terrible, but it took a long time to get used to her voice (she whistles her "S" which required me to reduce the volume in the car, but then I couldn't hear certain parts of the story) and her rhythm while speaking. By the end, I could tolerate her (almost turned it off halfway through) but I still didn't like her. (Apparently Book 6 equals the return of Celia Imrie, and I'm dreading it ...)
The narrator aside, I tried very hard to like the book. But, I just never got into it. It was like a song that starts slow, but you feel it should "take off." But it never does. It just keeps meandering down the runway and by the end, you feel cheated. I FEEL CHEATED by this book. I did not laugh once. I smirked once. Literally, without question, only once. It was near the end, during the last hour of the story. But no "laugh out loud" moments. No emotional response to the characters. In fact, at one point, one character annoyed me so much, I turned the book off and boycotted it for two days, seriously considering Audible's return policy.
I bought this book despite other reviews because it was part of the series and I felt I had to read it in order to keep up. I didn't want to miss anything (as Book 2 played directly off of Book 1, for example). If that's the only reason you are reading Book 3, Equal Rites : SKIP IT. There is no connection to Books 1 and 2. And there is no connection to book 4. You won't be missing anything; merely sparing yourself 7 hours of torture and frustration.
It makes me sad to write this review. But it is worse to have wasted a credit and 7 hours on a book that was just plain disappointing.
With little hesitation, I can say that this is the best book I've ever read. And I have read some amazing literature.
I credit some of this to the unparalleled performance by Martin Jarvis as the narrator. Never before has a book come alive quite like this. The storyline is genius: clever, witty and engaging. I was captivated by the story: demon vs. angel (could be cliche, but not with Prachett and Gaiman) who are brought together so creatively and convincingly in this tale of our pre-apocalyptic world.
I would recommend this book to anyone who listens to me long enough to hear the title. These authors are brilliant individually, and together they have created an absolute masterpiece. The reader's intelligence is never doubted. The artistry of the dialogue is excellent.
If you enjoy fantasy, based even remotely in a familiar world, this is a book for you. If you enjoy clever comedy in writing that is founded in a storyline that holds its own, this is a book for you. If you can find humor in situations, without slapstick or punchlines, this is a book for you. And if you have a sense of humor about yourself and life, and simply appreciate a brilliant novel that you will go back to time and time again: this is certainly the book for you.
I read (listened to) this book while commuting. For the first time, I questioned the safety of audiobooks for drivers: I saw the story unfolding before my eyes, even as I drove down the freeway. The images are still clear as day, and for the first time in a long time, I feel like my imagination has been ignited, and that by a work of adult fiction. If writers of young adult / teen novels were to take a page out of the books of Prachett and Gaiman, our society could only benefit, and our youth would be wiser, more creative, and more intelligent than ever.
It was sad when this book ended. But delightful as well, because that means I get to read it again. And again ... And again ...
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