What can I say? The story's almost incomparable, so let me switch to commending Rob Inglis' performance. I tend to shy away from dramatizations, but Inglis' delivery is mostly narration. He does just enough variation in delivery to make the characters distinctive without resorting to silly vocal tics. It's masterfully done and a great example of how a good narrator can enhance a book just as easily as a poor one can ruin it.
This is a decent single volume on the Korean War, though Hastings' style is a little less to my liking than some of his contemporaries. He tends towards the Stephen Ambrose "history by soldierly anecdote" method of storytelling than the John Keegan "clinical 50,000-foot view" method. But that's just a matter of preference.
I've read one of Hastings' World War II books (Armageddon), and since I was much more familiar with that conflict I didn't notice one aspect of his writing: in some instances Hastings presupposes a knowledge of the topic prior to the reader coming to the book. That aspect comes out listening to this audiobook. If you're marginally familiar with the Korean War prior to this book, it will fill in some details nicely, but if you're looking for a one-volume introduction, there may be better alternatives.
Lastly, Davidson's vocal characterizations seem out of place for a serious history book. If this were a novelization of the Korean War, speaking quotes from the Koreans and Chinese in bad, stereotypical Asian accents might be marginally less jarring. I'd prefer a narrator who read clearly and dispassionately. Save the drama for the Sharpe's Rifles narrations, please.
Hyperion is the tale of pilgrims on a voyage to the planet Hyperion with the intention of encountering The Shrike, a being of almost godlike power who is said to grant one pilgrim in a group their heart's desire. But as with the Canterbury Tales, this is just the framework upon which to hang six tangentially related short stories - the tale of the Priest, the Soldier, the Poet, the Scholar, the Detective and The Consul.
Each of the individual stories is told by the protagonist in their own voice. The Poet's tale is full of pompous farce, the Detective's Tale reads like a 31st-century Sam Spade mystery, and so on. Hanging over all the stories is the spectre of The Shrike and his mysterious homeworld, which have touched each of the travelers in some way.
Some of the stories are more captivating than the others, but together they weave a mesmerizing whole. And like the Canterbury Tales, the point of the book is not the resolution awaiting the travelers at their destination, but the stories they tell as they make their way. Uniquely structured, captivating, and well worth a listen.
The first book in the Mistborn saga is striking for its unique touches. It follows a lot of the standard fantasy themes - a Hero's Journey for young Vin, who appears to be the Chosen One; a band of adventurers teaming up to save the world; an evil overlord with minions of supernatural power; heroic sacrifice and powerful magic.
But it's the way these standard themes are explored that makes the book stand out. Consider the Lord Ruler's minions, the Steel Inquisitors - robed sorcerers of incredible strength, with steel spikes hammered into their skulls where their eyes once were. Or the magic system, where Allomancers ingest and burn pure metals of various types to produce telekinetic effects, enhance their strength, or bend others to their will. Or our band of heroes - not heroes at all, but highly specialized thieves, coming together under Kelsier to pull a high risk long con on the godlike Lord Ruler himself.
All of these are elements I haven't seen in a fantasy saga before, and it's this wealth of unique details that make the book shine. Well worth a listen.
Gun Machine is an eerie tale of serial murder over several decades, a tale that spins a web of history and police corruption around its protagonist. Warren Ellis is among the smartest and most inventive writers of the new millennium. Here he handles a new genre with his typical ease, with characteristic descriptiveness and intensity. Reg Cathey's gravelly narration is perfect for a gritty noir story like this. If the book has a fault it's that it builds to what feels like something of an abrupt stop at the end, but it'll definitely keep you listening right up to that end.
Lots of fun wrapped up in a light, geeky package. Kline touches on all the obsessions of an eighties childhood - videogames, bad sci-fi movies, Dungeons & Dragons. The fact that the book is read by Wesley Crusher is just the icing on the cake. Wheaton is a good voice for the material and handles the telling with a light touch.
If this were a movie it would be a popcorn flick, and like most good popcorn flicks it's an awful lot of fun, too.
Martin's books are engaging, and this is quite possibly the best of them. There's more epic twists packed into this particular story than in either of the preceding two books. I don't think it's much of a spoiler to say that once again Martin shows how willing he is to just off major characters out of thin air...though sometimes that doesn't work out the way you'd expect...
I found the book incredibly painful to listen to, however. I'll confess to preferring straight-up readings over dramatizations, but even having said that, there were passages where Roy Dotrice made my ears bleed. Anyone who isn't a main character has an accent like a Dickens orphan. His Walder Frey bears an uncanny resemblance to the old man who "didn't want to go on the cart" in The Holy Grail. His Davos Seaworth bears an uncanny resemblance to the Sea Captain from The Simpsons. Tyrion Lannister sounds more than a little bit like the Lucky Charms leprechaun. I can't for the life of me figure out how he arrived at the pronunciations of "Brienne" of Tarth (Bry-EEEN) or "Petyr" (Pa-TIRE) Baelish. And the accents slip in and out occasionally in mid-conversation as well.
A great book lessened by the need to suffer the narrator (hence the medium rating). I'll steer clear of Dotrice in the future unless there's something I simply have to get on audio, and for which there's no other alternative. Still, I concede that it could just be me. Listen to the samples, paying particular attention to the character voices, and know that it never gets better than that.
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