Tupelo, MS, United States | Member Since 2011
This novel kicks off the 2nd series. Jennifer Van Dyck is great as usual in her narration. Characters are easily distinguished and the pacing is great. My primary issue is while the first series focused on a primary character, this new series focuses on many characters. I normally has no problem with that structure if the author plays out each fully. While the plotline is great, as usual from Elizabeth Moon, I wish each character's story line was explored more fully and in the same kind of detail she used so wonderfully in the first series.
Not really a "fantasy" novel - more like a historical, fictional tale set on a planet with 2 suns. Explanations are missing about the oddity of a place with 2 suns in which a spinning planet somehow has one or both suns in the sky 24/7.... until about 2 decades earlier when the greater sun disappears for around 15 years. Political and religious turmoil erupt and continue through to this 1st novel. I suppose I could overlook the flawed science behind the premise as the 1st half of the book is OK. The 2nd half loads nearly EVERY character with such dislikeable traits that you'll think everyone has a split personality. I'm about 30 minutes from the end as of this writing and have gotten to the point that I no longer care enough to have any interest in the rest of their series.
Loved the original books in the series. Each new edition (especially with current narrator) seems less and less substantive in scope. This one is particularly on the less epic end of the scale. Basically a fantasy/ghost based mystery. The narrator continues to offer so little that even what story there is disappoints even more. The 3 main characters have very little vocal differentiation so you're sometime not quiet sure which of the 3 are speaking.
Finnikin is the 1st of 3 in the series, but is the only book that can exist on its own. To me, it is the best of the 3 books. Nothing really new or inventive for the genre.
Book 2 ends in incomplete storylines whereas the Finnikin book could be fine if it were the only book you listen to. There are many parts of all 3 books that are very moving and well-written. The repeated problem with the series is that situation after situation resolves around someone not saying the MOST obvious thing at that time. Arguments, flights, entire chapters revolve around characters simply not stating the obvious facts they know, but decide not to share - no rationale why - they just don't communicate. The pattern starts mid-way through Finnikin, but it does become repetitively predictable through books 2 and 3 - to the point that every major plot point depends on it There are times you just want to yell because no group of characters could be this stupid at communicating with each other.
It's now going on 2 years and the story is left hanging with book 4. Meanwhile, the author churns out new stuff or un-serialized books in other series. Apparently, getting to book 4 took from 1995-2012. As much as I like this series, I'd recommend skipping it as the author apparently has no regard for readers if he thinks 20 years for a fantasy series is reasonable.
Book picks up a few years after the end of previous book in series. Same bad choice of having different readers voice different viewpoints as organized into chapters. The book title seems only lightly explored toward the end of the book. The odd departure in plot is when a major character enters a different world with his best friend for a fairly substantial part of the book. While the new world is interesting to some extent for that time, the switch to a different viewpoint in plot stops any further development - the major character and friend just suddenly appear in one of the 2 original worlds and any character from the 3rd world is never mentioned again.
Picks up "immediately" after conclusion of 1st book. The setting is more confined and manages to stay very engaging even though it's very different than book 1 in scope. Good start, BUT chapters then switch point of view from main heroine to others and a different reader then reads that chapter. On the surface that might seem OK until that character describes the same events from a different viewpoint and the others characters remain voiced (sometimes with different pronunciations) by the reader for that person in that chapter. The different readers never voice their characters together. Because the viewpoint is switching between the different characters for some of the same events, it doesn't really move the plot along very far.
Told through constant flashbacks from present to about a decade earlier, this initial book 1 of 4 in series does its dutiful job in fleshing out universe and staging characters. It's a little slow at times as it does take a good bit of time to really get going. It is a fairly standard medieval setting. What is good overall is the author can at times move you to actually care about what's happening emotionally.
BUT later books in series switch from a single reader to readers for particular chapters - I'll relate the issues with that in those book reviews, but beware that change before you decide to start this one.
Started listening to this on an airplane and then continued on return trip. Spent the 1st 4-5 hours convinced I'd somehow bought a middle book or the 1st book in a series that had the background told previously. Nope - author just writes characters, their actions, the landscape, the whole entire universe like he wrote it down as he thought of them. Spur of the moment - no context for anything. You have parts, books, chapters all loosely driving a threadbare storyline.
While the Audible description outlines a plot seemly based on "WhiskeyJack" character, he's actually one of the least visible characters in book. Hours 5 - rest of book didn't get any better.
For those who talk about how complex the book is... badly written doesn't make a book complex. Will not be purchasing further books in series.
Initially begins so oddly that you wonder if you somehow missed a volume between the last book mostly set in South America and this one. You slowly learn that it does indeed pick up the tale. Overall, this book is divided between 3 situations - each as interesting as the last. I again deduct a star for overall rating because the author again randomly ends the book. This ending is even more abrupt than the ending in Book 7.. It's not so much a cliff hanger as the book just stops. Not particularly fond that that practice in this series and given the free form storyline, you begin to wonder if the series will conclude.
While the book leaves open possible opportunity for more (hopefully), it neatly closes most of the back-story elements of the 1st two books and even provides much of the pre-history that moved the 1st two books forward. The author manages to propel the characters into yet another new situation (this time more politically oriented initially) without loosing a step. I'm very impressed with the author's skills as she has managed to create 3 separate storylines in 3 books that are non-repetitive and leave you wishing for more.
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