Sierra Foothills, Northern CA | Member Since 2007
This is book 2 in the Australian Trilogy. The characters are equally well drawn in both books 1 and 2; and the stories are both quite compelling. However, book 2 has an aura of darkness that isn't as pervasive in the first book.
I greatly appreciate Courtenay's ability to present themes of brutality and horror without sensationalizing the scenes. You quickly get the picture of what is happening, but the scenes aren't dragged on with unnecessary exploitation. That alone would make me a Coutenay fan -- however he has many other gifts as an author ... besides the fascinating characters, he also gives the reader an action packed story with just the right amount of contemplation. It's a rare gift when an author can get those two in the right balance.
Other reviewers seemed to be bothered by the sex scenes. To start with, there were only a few of "those" scenes, and to be perfectly honest I found them more boring than upsetting. Overall, this is a masterful story of family loyalty, fierce determination and survival. My comment re "rather dark" is based on the underlying sadness in the development of the story. However, I whole-heartedly recommend it.
Now, on to book 3 in this wonderful trilogy.
This book is well written. It's an interesting story with well drawn characters. The main character is a boy who is going through his 'coming of age' learnings and mishaps. As a 13 yr old, he is the typical flippant, disrespectful, inquisitive child of that age. He does mature and learn as the book progresses and reaches the point (at 16) where he can be considered a thoughtful young man.
So why my lukewarm rating?
* The story got hugely bogged down in Card's need (desire?) to ensure that the reader/listener understood the nature and origin of the mages and their magical abilities. Slowed the pacing of the storyline to a slow crawl in several sections.
* S Rudnicki is an excellent narrator and voice actor. He is a 5 star reader. E J Card is by contrast very hard to listen to. She sounds untrained and awkward -- the transitions between the 2 narrators serves to underscore that vast difference in their talent level.
* Although the story was nicely wrapped up at the end, it is clearly a beginning of a series. Not really satisfying as a standalone book.
I should have anticipated this. Ender's Game (probably OSC's best known and most beloved story) never stirred me. I didn't hate it, I just didn't love it. My reaction to Lost Gate is no different. If you loved Ender's Game, then this book is for you. Personally, I won't continue in this series.
During Jakes research, he read Bruce Catton's civil war studies and came across the above quote and referenced it in his afterword. I was struck by its unusually apt descriptiveness and therefore used it as my review headline.
There are many wonderful things about this book: it's well researched, richly panoramic, excellently narrated and beautifully written. It is very easy to feel you know the main characters as they grow and experience life. They're well rounded and quite human in all aspects. The growing political and civil unrest in this period of our country's development is described such that you also get a quite tasty history lesson along with the characters' storylines.
There are however several characters (4 of whom are primary to the story) that are truly sadistic bullies. Their sheer meanness is predominantly against other whites and not aimed at the slave population. I came to believe that this was true because the slaves were "property" and therefore not seen as a logical target of enmity. These cruel characters were so despicable that I questioned why they were necessary to the overall story arc. I would have understood 1 or 2 ... but 4?? Therefore my 4 star rating for the story.
I will get the other 2 books of this trilogy immediately. The series is well worth your time and credits.
The reviews were so mixed on this book that I had to listen for myself. To begin with, some of the reviewers used "Amelia Peabody step aside" comments. I'm a longtime fan of Peters' Amelia Peabody series and thought it a huge leap for others to make that comparison. So let me set that part to rights up front. There are several elements that deserve appropriate comparison -- but it's not a match overall. To be fair it's close, but not a neck-and-neck race.
I normally stay away from vampire/werewolf stories. Just not my favorite kind of story. Do NOT shy away from this because of the magical characters. Their personalities are very human and the fantastical traits aren't distracting at all.
Here's what I loved about this book:
* The narrator is superb. She does wonderful justice to the characters, the storyline, the Victorian era and all the twists and turns in this book. Huzzah to Emily Gray!
* There are truly delightful characters in this book, too many to describe in this review. Trust me they are without peer. Afterall what author would name one of her characters Ivy Hisslepenny (sp?) if she weren't quite willing to imbue all of her characters with incredibly unique personalities.
* The storyline has twists, turns and momentum. Although this is certainly not a deep or thought provoking book, it is fun and interesting.
* There is an innate sense of humor behind this book that is charming.
What I found lacking:
* Some of the prolonged romantic scenes (read this as kissing and mild groping) went on too long for my taste. That's just me and might not disturb other listeners.
I whole heartedly recommend this book.
As I listened to this book I was struck by the moral ambiguity running through the main story line. The good guys did some pretty bad stuff and the bad guys had a theme of righteous vindication. In the meantime the thrills, and sometime chills, came frequently. This book has pace and action worked together very skillfully.
The characters are outlined clearly enough that you know what they're about and understand their actions and reactions. They are, however, without much depth. The narrator can be hard to get used to as you start the book but pretty quickly becomes the spirit and appropriate characterization for all the nuances contained in this story.
The author's final comments at the end of the story made it all clear (at least to me). This was his 2nd book and the 2nd in an intended series. As he wrote it he became torn between writing a thriller vs writing a social commentary. The commentary is based in large part on the victimization of native Americans over time in this country. A plight that is still quite relevant today. Once he finished the book he realized that he couldn't have it both ways, tore it apart, and rewrote it to be a thriller. From this listener's perspective the social commentary theme is still in the underlying tone of the story. Therefore my sense of moral ambiguity.
I'm thoroughly enjoying this series and would love to give this book 5 stars across the board. My 4 stars on the story are strictly based on the unresolved ambiguity...no neat bows were offered to wrap it all up. That's ok by me, I'm on to the next story in the series.
If you like cop/detective thrillers, then this series is for you!
Centuries ago Aristotle discussed the concept that the whole could be greater than the sum of the parts. That's a great description of my reaction to this book.
I had read so many positive reviews of this series that I had to find out what it was all about. Many times the first book in a series is a case of the author becoming familiar with the primary characters and developing appropriate themes. I'll keep listening to this series and see if that holds true for Johnson's Walt Longmire books. That is, I suspect that they will continue to just get better and better.
* The characters are wonderfully and appropriately lovable or despicable but with many shades of grey in all of them. I felt as if I were getting to know them as part of a community that I could live in (I do live in the Mts).
* Guidall's narration is a brilliant match to the tenor and tempo of this book. I honestly can't think of any other of my favorites doing it this well.
* The story, while interesting, sometimes meandered (a good Walt Longmire word).
From the very beginning this book made want to sit down in front of a warm fire, my cat(s) on my lap and just sink into the story. It felt like a master storyteller was spinning a great yarn just for me.
This is a hard book for me to rate. The performance should have received 4 1/2 stars and the story 3 1/2. Oh well.
1) the narrator -- a lot. He gave excellent voice to men, women, the elderly, children, Germans and Winston Churchill.
2) the intermittent humor amidst the horror. Nice touches to stop it from being rather nasty at just the right points.
3) the complex logic puzzles presented by the paradoxes of time travel. Couple mind benders that were very interesting to think through.
What wasn't as good:
1) Some of the characters are truly despicable. Probably necessary to the plot, but still left a very unpleasant taste behind.
2) I wish the storyline and characters had more depth. They were fine for a fast read, but still left me wanting more grist.
3) The ending. Although the story did get wrapped up, sure did happen fast and without a whole lot of sense of closure.
Overall: I liked it and will read more Koontz, but my expectations will be properly set next time.
Years ago I fell in love with the Amelia Peabody series written by E. Peters and wonderfully narrated by Barbara Rosenblat. I'm now 1/2 way through this delightful series on Audible for the 3rd (yes, 3rd) time.
When I read of Peters death a couple weeks ago I was saddened and went in search of more of her writings. I was happy to find that she had another series centered on a strong woman and once again narrated by the talented Barbara. I can't even finish the 2nd chapter. Somehow the producer never noticed that Rosenblat is making continuous gargly, slurpy noises behind her words. I can't tell if she is thirsty and drinking water while speaking, but it is (using my kids' words here) a true gross-out. Frankly I'd rather listen to my cats regurgitating ... sorry for such a comparison ... than continue any longer with this book. I'm truly upset to be missing out on more E. Peters due to this problem.
So that was the upsetting. The disappointment is based on the superficiality and complete self-absorption of the primary character. Vicky Bliss is no Amelia Peabody! Not by a long shot. Yes, I might be accused of "quick to judge" given that I didn't finish even 2 chapters. But that's it, I'm done with this series.
Dear Audible: I've never asked for my credit back, but this time is different. May I please have a credit returned to my account.
This varies from the previous books in the Jack Ryan series on several fronts. I'm a fan of this series and have listened to them all in order (at least through this book) and therefore found some of the changes remarkable and very refreshing:
1) New narrator. The Michael Prichard narrations always required adjustment time, both to his pacing and the dryness of his inflections. Scott Brick is a marked step up in dramatic ability and pacing.
2) No long historical context setting. Every one of the previous books relied heavily on giving the reader historical perspective and background information. Yes, there is a little of that here, but this time it is succinct and interesting.
3) Technical dissertations are gone. I'd become quite used to Clancy's long forays into military and technical discourses. Again, there are a couple, but they're appropriate to the story. Bouts of tedium appear to be gone!
This is an interesting story and it moves along smartly. The 4 stars vs 5 is simply because this time I found Ryan to be a little too good to be true. Yes he swears a little more in this book than I remember in the past -- which doesn't really bother me -- but he can't possibly be that smart at international intrigue with so little field experience. This in no way reduces the appeal of this book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this addition to the series.
Disclaimer: I'm an unapologetic fan of this series.
The normal themes apply: 1) Clancy's books start off very slowly -- the trick is to not give up on the book or the characters. 2) Prichard isn't the best narrator (although he does redeem himself in this book). 3) Clancy can't resist showing off his command of details: military, historical and technical. 4) Ryan and friends/family are well written characters.
This book deviates from the traditional Clancy format -- it doesn't rely on the "shoot-em-up-bang" approach of previous books. Instead the primary warfare fronts are all based on words: diplomacy intrigues, politicians espousing/debating frightening platforms, news outlets and broadcasters walking the difficult line of beating the competition and being responsible, and 4) a number of absolutely wonderful ministers of different churches all striving to lead with fervor and faith. I've been critical of Prichard in past reviews, but he shines during these word based conflicts.
The word-based conflicts are consistently more exciting and intriguing than the battlefield scenes in this book. That too is a departure for Clancy. But to be clear, the final warfare scenes in this book are about as heart-stopping as any of the earlier books in this series.
Bottonline: Yes, it starts slowly. Don't give up, this book is well worth your time. I didn't want it to end!!
First, I'm really surprised that I chose to finish this book. Self flagellation??
I could summarize the plot, but instead let me just say there isn't one likable character in this whole book. To make it even worse none of them are interesting enough to even be considered as unlikable. The plot plods. The courtroom drama scenes (which are usually my most favorite part of legal dramas) hang between dull and predictable.
One of favorite reviewers (Richard from San Anselmo) says it best. For more elucidation on why to skip this book, please see his insightful and funny review.
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