Silver Spring, MD, United States | Member Since 2010
The characters in this book spend a ton of time walking through the the desert without water. Have a glass of your favorite beverage available as you listen.
When I finished Gardens of the Moon, I was at about 50-50 on whether to continue with this series. It was well written, but it didn't pull me in. It was more respect than love. I believed that the world was well drawn, but the scope too sweeping and the characters too numerous to try really get to know any one of them.
It gets better. This book continues with some of the characters, but not others. Thus it is a bit more manageable. As you read the series the sheer volume of words over time allows you to get to know the characters more fully. In other words: while huge in scope, it gets easier to grasp as you go along.
Erikson is very talented in that his landscape is very well painted. The setting for this series is an entire planet and he seems to want to cover everything that is happening on its surface. Moreover, he has no shortage of ideas when coming up with interpersonal, national, magical conflict. There is always some argument, earthquake, war, or magical existential crisis a chapter away. It makes you wonder how he will keep track of all the threads.
One thing I would challenge about the veracity of the characters is their glib misery. Erikson seems to want his characters to suffer most of the time. There are very few iotas of happiness in his books. It's mostly fighting, dying, being raped, descending into madness, suffering, or at least being annoyed. Despite this, his characters really do maintain a fantastically positive attitude. After so much smiling in the face of death, you begin to forget that there is so much of it in sheer volume. It makes me worry for the future of the narrative. If we are simply used to wholesale, abject death, where do you go from there to create tension?
That is but a small thing, however. I think I am in it for the long haul. I am on to the third book now and things keep getting better. I recommend carrying on to book 2 if you even kind of liked book 1. Lister does a really good job of voice characterizations even if they are not all the way I would envision the characters. He is consistent and has great cadence.
So fill your camelback and drop a credit on book 2. Enjoy.
This book encapsulates the manor of thinking that spawned Freakonomics. It does a pretty good job of satisfying the authors' intent which is to show you different ways to address a problem. They expand the definition of economics beyond the standard Micro-Macro science of optimizing use of scarce resources, demonstrating it as a social science to explain human behavior. All well done.
On the other hand... The authors admit that this may be their last book on the subject because their economics-driven philosophy may dictate that they quit. I submit that they should follow this inclination. They do a good job of showing the need to look at actual incentives and data, but they are not thinking their own examples through. They are not considering or exploring the permutations of their policy prescriptions. They seem to consider them good solutions merely because of their cleverness and unconventional thinking, when previous examples - in this very book - point to disaster. They talk about the importance of data as if they are among the few that are clever enough to see it clearly and make the proper interpretations and then slyly wink at a possible creative solution with out thinking out how it would work. This allows them to sound clever without having to ground their arguments in the data they value so much.
I feel like they are reaching. They are trying to load the book with the successes of unconventional thinking and that is great, but they have overextended themselves and have mixed bad examples in with the good.
In short it is a good book that says the right things about how to look at problems through a social-economic lens and then sometimes fails to live up to its ideals.
As sequels go, this is a good second effort though I will not say it sure that if you liked the Blood Song one you'll like the second. I very much liked Tower Lord, for its creative narrative rhythm, the focus on relationships and the texture of the characters. However, there are things that could throw you for a loop.
There are four perspective characters, five if you count the historian who is sort of telling the story. The perspective changes every chapter and is clearly delineated, but four is too many for some people. Also, those who are interested solely in the story of Valen will be disappointed.
The pattern is the same as the last book where the interludes are the present and the perspective narratives are in the recent past culminating in the present time as marked by the historian's timeline. Unfortunately, this gives the book an air of inevitability. You know after the first chapter where the final battle will be and who will be involved. I think this doesn't spoil the ride, but the outcome doesn't really feel in question.
This book is dark; lots of rape and murder. It is abject and often creatively done. I applaud Ryan's ability as a dark storyteller he really knows how to twist the knife.
The narrator is nowhere. He's a blank slate. No characterizations, barely any accents, no tonal differences between genders. It is difficult to tell who is talking. They should replace him. They have nothing to lose.
I know this sounds like I am mostly down on this book. I am not. I genuinely liked it. It had seldom used elements like characters who were homosexual or dyslexic like people sometimes are and it colors the story without making the whole world about it. This lends it a maturity that fantasy sometimes goes without. Its dark parts are creatively dark and well described and its characters are relateable.
When you have a long, episodic series you need one of those books that is kind of a setup book. In "Shattered," Hearne needed to work through a bunch of exposition for the series and could not put as much into pure adventuring. In the previous book, "Hunted," Atticus was on the run the entire time and didn't have much of a chance to draw in new characters and give a greater vision of the larger story arc. That is what this book was for. The pace was a lot slower, but what it lacked in running around kicking butt, it made up for in character development, world-building, and filling in the main story arc.
Daniels had a lot of heavy lifting in this book in terms of characterizations and accents. He did a good job with a diverse kaleidoscope of genders, ages, accents and personalities. Surely, some will criticize that the accents aren't perfect and maybe a little over the top, but I think he did a good job with a tough field.
I had complained in previous reviews that Hearne was getting a bit too enthusiastic with his pop culture referencing. In this installment he has cooled it back down to a level that is appropriately clever instead of distracting. Well done there.
All in all, I would recommend this book, but seriously, if you have read six books and are on the fence about book 7 and are using this review to decide whether or not to continue, I don't know what to tell you. Flip a credit.
I am going to go against the grain of most other reviewers and say that the narrator, Michael Page, does not ruin this book. I liked Lister's narration marginally better, but I am also a fan of Page from the Gentleman Bastard Sequence, where he does a much more inspired job. One way to diminish the shock of listening to different pronunciations and different voices to known characters is to do what I did and take some time off from the series before moving on to book 4. It makes the transition easier. Another element that eases the shock is the fact that the major characters of this book had yet to make an appearance in the series or were bit players up until now.
No, if this book suffers it is on the author. It is still a pretty good book, but I had no trouble putting it down like I did with the others. It took me a long time to get through it. The pacing is much more leisurely than previous books and the climaxes almost feel like non-events.
Erikson is also painting himself into a corner with the regularity of events that should feel momentous, but aren't. In most stories you would think that a god dying or being cast down to the mortal world and other gods and pantheons rising in his place would be a pretty big deal. No, in this series, that's an average Tuesday.
Eirkson does a stellar job with character development with a couple caveats. The characters's development is matched well with the exposition and they are well painted as individuals. The major drawbacks to the character slate is that there are just so many of them that it is hard to identify with them as a reader. Also, he moves on from the ones you like to others that you don't care about. Then he has to do the hard work of making you care and that eats up narration and adds to the slow pace. Also, they are all basically superhuman. Everybody is either Chuck Norris or hamburger. It makes you feel like outcomes were never in doubt, you as the reader just didn't know them yet. It feels like any built suspense was all a lie.
This was my least favorite volume of the series so far. It is still pretty good and I will likely move on to the next book in time, but this edition didn't leave me pining for more.
I cannot rate the story of this book so I gave it a neutral "3." The reader is so distracting, so teeth gratingly bad, that he makes the entire audiobook experience about himself.
What happens in the book? After seven hours, I don't know. I know I can't stand the narration. That's about all I got out of it.
I scoffed when I saw the other reviewers describe him as sounding like a surfer dude. I now formally apologize to those reviewers for scoffing. It's just like they said. Particularly when he tries to characterize a person of slow speech or deep voice, you can hear the unspoken, "dude," or, "broseph," at the end of the sentence.
Not only is poor accent selection a problem for this narrator, he often pauses as if he is encountering a particular word for the first time. The difference between this narration and a train wreck is that I can look away from the former.
I can only recommend this book to the tone deaf. Maybe not even them.
Books like this one, presumably with charts and tables, are probably better with another medium. However, if you are going to listen to it as I did, it still does a pretty good job. Economic principles are pretty clearly explained, though if it is your first introduction to economics, you will probably want to look a few things up (moral hazard, market failures etc.), but he does't bury you in a mountain of technical language.
As Stiglitz disclaims early, this is not a work for peer review. It is for popular consumption so if you are looking for some deep explanation as to how he arrived at his claims, you'll be left wanting.
I am usually frustrated with books that prescribe solutions that we "merely lack the political will," to accomplish. It seems like activist thumb-twiddling. Every book of this type seems to have a portion like that. This one is no exception. I find the repetition of this trope frustrating.
I generally liked this book. It was well characterized and read by Daniels. It has good pacing, some pretty exciting events, and a good premise. It is easy to follow. The dialogue is not bad and the characters are interesting. The plot twists are a bit weak and predictable, but forgivable. Readers of Larry Correia's Grimnoir Chronicles will recognize the superhumans-among-us, alternate history, premise.
The major problem, and it is a big one, is the inconsistency of the fictional science. Sakey gives some of his characters superhuman powers of perception. For example, the main character can tell what people are thinking, whether they are lying, and predict what people will do next because of his incredible ability to perceive patterns in their behavior. This is what makes him such a good cop. Sakey makes special mention, numerous times, that he cannot turn his abilities off. That is all well and good until you learn that many characters in the book are lying to him at will.
I won't spoil the book. It's a thriller, readers should expect plot twists. The problem is the main character's powers. He basically loses his ability when it is convenient to setting up a plot twist. It's just shoddy writing. The main character can tell where you're going to retire by the way you hold your salad fork, but he can't perceive a conspiracy that has been sitting in front of his face for years. A guy who can tell what people are thinking and what they are going to do should not be surprised as often as this guy is. Fix that and the book would be a lot better.
This book is a variation on the “kid goes to warrior school” epic fantasy genre. It’s a pretty good one. There are some fresh ideas in storytelling that keep it new and interesting. The main story arc is told as if to a historian, however, you come to learn that the reader is getting a “true,” insiders account, but the historian character to which the story is being recounted, is being told something else. In other words, you get the secrets, but for some reason, the main character is telling his conversation partner something less meaningful. Also, the depth of the features of this world, magic, religion, people, sects, are only being hinted at. The author has so much setting left to fill with story, it keeps you wanting more.
The story begins a little slow and there are some significant breaks in action. However, it does heat up and progressively becomes more intriguing. Twists and plots aren’t immediately apparent until you realize you’re up to your neck in them.
Characters are well developed and Ryan fears not killing them off which raises the stakes of the various challenges. The dialogue is neither particularly good nor bad. It is just kind of there.
This book really suffers because of its narrator. He doesn’t apply himself to characterizations so you often lose who is talking in a particular conversation. He blows the accenting of certain sentences which changes the meaning in odd ways. Overall it feels like what you are hearing is the reader’s first attempt.
Despite harvesting the old warrior school trope, this book goes in interesting directions. The story leaves off at a good point too. There is an ocean of possibilities at the end, leaving you very interested in what comes next. All in all a good read. I would recommend this to fantasy fans.
This novel starts a little slow and pretty conventional, but heats up quickly. It wasn't long before I was listening to it every free moment I had.
The early plot involves two royal brothers, each sent away as youths for training, one to a monastery and the other to Air Assault Ninja School. That in itself seems like a pretty derivative beginning, but the brothers are quickly dunked in intrigue when their father dies. The action, plotting and mystery remain pretty thick for the rest of the story. The main characters are put into many different challenging and life-threatening situations which move the story along. Also, since you keep switching back from one brother to the other at suspenseful points in the narrative, it is really difficult to find a good place to put the book down.
Staveley does an excellent job of keeping you on your toes. You are never allowed to get comfortable in your expectations. There are twists in this book, but the artful part of the twists are that some of them aren't twists at all.
The supporting characters are very well described. But for a few character traits, the main characters are written a little bit blank. Vance does an excellent job bringing them all to life. He is so good I will make special point of seeking out his narrations in the future.
I would recommend this book to any fantasy fan. The foibles of being conventional disappear quickly and are easy to forgive when you realize your being drawn into an exciting fantasy mystery.
I listened to this book a while ago and now again as its sequel is coming out soon. It is a very good book and fans of Sanderson’s other work will likely enjoy it a great deal. The book highlights the things Sanderson is very good at. His world-building is deep and wide. He seems to want his stories to take place on world that has fully realized ground underneath them, so that if the listener were to question, “Where does this tradition come from? Why do these people always do this or that? What is the origin of this feature?” he has already thought it through and has an explanation and, what’s more, made it significant to the narrative. Sanderson may do this better than anybody and this book is a good example.
He also makes a complex, but coherent structure to his magic. Importantly, magic, for him, is not the purview of bearded old men who sling bolts of lightning. His magic augments his warriors so they end up like superheroes. This makes his fight scenes as vivid as if they were drawn in comic books.
His characters are great if a little conventional. I am always a sucker for nobility and honor in my protagonists. I forgive other faults when the hero is a stand-up guy or gal. His certainly are that. Thankfully, he gives backstory to explain why they are the way they are. Other authors often pick their good guy, invest him or her with a nobility of spirit and let that be that. Sanderson builds a character who is noble, but also conflicted and also shows you why. So his people are not very complex, but very relatable.
The one major complaint I have of this book is that it bogs down in the middle. We are treated to too many cycles of Kaladin being depressed at losing friends, finding his resolve, coming up with a solution, and then having that solution negated by the Man, causing him to lose more friends (repeat, repeat, repeat). It even happens in flashback. The middle of this book abides there a bit too long. Maybe this was intentional to build tension for the last fifth of the book which was really spectacular, but I think they could have pared it down a little.
The reading was generally good. Kramer did a very good job. Kate Reading was ok. Her characterizations lacked energy. There were some differences in pronunciation that grated. This pair, who have combined for some very good reads in the past, should have known better, but still a solid reading.
Beware some reviews that overstate the candlepower of this book. It is a solid start, but it is not an instant classic. The book has general appeal for those that like a long series and fans of Sanderson will really like it. I would recommend this book to almost any fantasy reader. I don’t doubt other reviewers’ sincerity, I just think some may be dedicated Sanderson fans and forgive some of the negatives.
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