This is the worst book in the series and by a longshot. If this is your first time through the series, I recommend you pick it up second hand or at the library and skim through it. The story is plodding and very few details impact the story arch for the series. You can get away with skipping this altogether. You'd feel some surprises if you do that, but you won'f feel lost.
Erikson's Mythology is as deep, perhaps deeper than Jordan's or Tolkien's. So deep, that I didn't feel any sort of grasp on it until halfway through the book. The characters from the first book are all but forgotten for this tale. Erikson again spins 4 storylines bound for a collision at the end of the book. New, vibrant, and complex characters abound as we again see both sides of warring parties. I find myself rooting for morally bankrupt individuals and trying to figure out if this is a story of futility or hope in the face of desperate odds. Erikson takes on a journey of retribution and sacrifice--balance past criminal behavior versus wisdom gained from experience or tenderness brought on by ignorance.
The story is action packed and abhorrently violent. I was entertained and thought provoked throughout, but too depressed at times to take on long stretches of listening.
Ralph is a solid reader--clear and dynamic, however he does not have the vocal range or accents to cover the shear number of characters presented. I would really love to hear a female reader take on the female characters, much like Michael Kramer and Kate Reading in Jordan's Wheel of Time.
Don't expect to have any questions answered in this opening to the Malazan Book of the Fallen. However, the characters were each unique and compelling. There is a ton of action and violence on par with Abercrombie. If you're like me, you will hit the prologue after you have finished just to try to figure out what you've missed. I am looking forward to the rest of the series hitting Audible. Performance wasn't spotless, but Ralph is good enough not to get lost in dialogue changes and complex "foreign" language.
The best character from Abercrombie's First Law returns to us and doesn't disappoint. As is standard, this is bloody, bleak, but hugely entertaining. Steven does excellent voicing and accents. Thanks Joe, and bring us more of the Bloody Nine!
Scott is funny and honest. If you considered using social media to improve your business this is a must listen. He gives solid examples of the common mishaps of businesses and offers real solutions. I am trying to apply these principles in my own consulting and encouraging my clients to do the same. The recording is clear, paced perfectly and Scott reads it himself.
Intense from beginning to end. Perhaps too intense at times as I had to give myself a break from this story several times as I listened. However, it has the epic finish we hoped for in this massive tale. For me this is a story taking 20 years to close out and I am satisfied. Michael and Kate are very good as readers once again. Voices get somewhat confused as times since there are so many character, but overall it does not detract from the story. I would recommend this book and this entire series, but give yourself plenty of time and read something light in-between breaks.
I don't like recycled characters. For the most part, Sullivan introduces new characters nicely and realistically. We start this volume with the rapid rise of a new character, which is emotional and smartly written. Sullivan has a tight grasp on who his antagonists are but is able to layer their motivations with more nuance than in the prior volume. Sadly, one character comes from the prior volume and it feels a bit clunky. A twist at the end makes up for that, however.
My other complaint is the number of times our hero's are captured then manage to convenient escape. This reminds me of the TV Series "24". Jack Bauer or family gets captured because they don't call for back up and then get guarded by one inept guard.
Beyond that, the action sequences are easily visualized and the storyline is enjoyable. Tim Gerard Reynolds gives a fantastic performance. It is his best voice acting to date. Product removed to much space between segments and it is difficult to tell when a new scene has begun.
Lynch manages to do something I have seen only done a couple times effectively--insert a seafaring novel into a fantasy series, a la Lewis or Feist. The action sequences are well composed, fluid, and vivid. As with the first of the series, characters are loveable and not impervious to death.
My one complaint with this story is that if we are to believe these characters are such great thieves, why do they make so many mistakes? The ending of this story is so stupidly below the characters' abilities, it is difficult to believe. However, if the story is about the journey and not the destination, this is a great listen.
Michael Page is in my top three of readers. His voice library is nothing short of phenomenal. He seamlessly transitions dialogue character to character with perfect clarity and projection. He is one of the few that I will listen to the book, simply because he is reading it.
Lynch creates a world where humans have moved into the cities that an ancient and presumably alien civilization left behind. This is the backdrop to a metropolitan crime and politics atmosphere with a fantasy twist. The characters are compelling and likeable. I rarely get drawn in so well to so many different characters. Like George R.R. Martin, Lynch isn't afraid to kill off characters you grow attached too.
Lynch uses multiple timelines--Lock Lamora in his youth then as an adult. It proves an effective means to tell background and fill in mythology.
My one complaint with this story is that if we are to believe these characters are such great thieves, why do they make so many mistakes?
Michael Page just broke my top three of readers. His voice library is nothing short of phenomenal. He seamlessly transitions dialogue character to character with perfect clarity and projection. He is one the few that I will listen to the book, simply because he is reading it.
Sullivan is a fan of the Traditional Tolkienian Fantasy and it shows. There are dwarves, elves, and wizards. If you're like me, that doesn't bother you when the mood strikes to read familiar or predictable mythologies. Just don't anticipate Sullivan breaking any new ground in Fantasy story telling like an Abercrombie or Rothfuss.
That said, the story is fast paced and action packed. The characters are believable and likeable. The main characters feel familiar, a brotherhood of thieves that follow a conveniently honorable code of ethics a la Steven Lynch. There is an occasional chapter that is full of mythology--necessary, but extremely boring.
Tim Reynolds projects his voice well and is intelligible. He has above average accents and character voicing. However, a couple of his character are so similar, there are times it is difficult to tell which character said what.
The characters have lost their personalities and dialog focuses entirely around politics. The plot is forced at best. Sadly I am reminded of Star Wars Episode 2 or 3.
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