I don' understand the positive reviews. I am an avid fantasy/fiction reader and listener (I know have 300+ audible books in my library). Reading the reviews I thought I would get something different, refreshing and "period" (vaudeville).
I simply could never get engaged in the story. I found Mr Moreno boring and flat) and the characters, flat and crude. THere was no warmth, no human interest- simply characters being pushed around in service of a pretty unique fantasy construct. But the construct was not enough to build a novel around. I must admit I made it 50% of the way through the thing and finally said "why I am torturing myself?" this is just plain boring.
I love Black Company, LOTR, first three books in G RR Martin's series (the last two suxed), Sherlock Holmes, Murder Mysteries ("I Would Know You Anywhere" being a favorite, WOT (excepting books 8-9), anything Brandon Sanderson writes (to date). So this is not a case of being stuck on one type of fantasy or genre.
& NASA this is cream in your coffee. The Martian Adventure is an epic nerd story that literally opens with a bang. Chock full of engineering calculations it manages not to become to serious and plodding because the a well rounded,funny, wise cracking, engineer/botanist Mark Whatney. Overlooking the plot ploy that Whatney is both botanist and Mr fix-it for the mission - this is one plausible and incredible tale- even though it is laced with enough engineering jargon to give me flashbacks to my college thermodynamics courses!
Whatney's drive and spunk combined with his "never say die" (literally) attitude when confronted with one challenge after another thrown at him by Mars, by his own mistakes and by random equipment failure make this a real treat. Through him we learn how one could grow food on Mars (again a plot device has the crew bring fresh potatoes on board), how equipment (all of it available now I think) can be twisted and used in ways no one imagine to survive in an environment harsher that Antartica at it's coldest.
The book never gets to Nerdy, nor does it soar to high (about the possibilities of Space and Mankind) rather it is told from the perspective of a workaday brilliant engineer/botanist from Nasa with an incredible dry sense of humor.
This book is certainly aimed at showing what is possible (a manned mission to Mars using pre-positioned fuel making equipment)- but manages to be loads of fun in the reading.
In his second MASSIVE installment of the Storm Light Archive Sanderson delivers and even tops the first book in the series. It is, I must say, a bit strange to hear my old friends Michael Kramer and Kate Reading portraying male and female characters (respectively) just like in the old days when I listened to the WOT Series by Jordan on CD pre-audible.
Sanderson was determined from the first to deliver a fantasy world completely unique and different from any other multi-series fantasy. It is easy to see Jordan's influence on Sanderson- his wide sweep, huge and long existing world (with glimpses and partial explanations - sometime NO explanation of long past events and myths- this is a compliment). This is HIGH fantasy all the way around- if you are a Martin addict or can only read the dark low fantasy Black Company series or something like the Prince of Thorns Series then this is not for you.
StormLight Archives, despite is unique setting (and I mean unique SF "other worldly" like setting) is a the son of Wheel of Time and a grandson of LOTR. Told from a multi character perspective- SLA incorporates long flowing narratives offset with rapid and well paced action scenes reinforce. Be forewarned that "Good is Good" ala Tolkien/Jordan- if a good character is doing something bad it is because a) we don't understand then or b) they made a mistake from which they will repent. Hardly any shades of gray- you are either one of Kalladan's stalworts that ends up worshipping him- or you are a scum evil doer. I exaggerate to some degree- but this is so in the main.
To be clear : I am not complaining- a good vs evil, black vs. white story is just the thing occasionally and the SLA is that simply that. Take it or leave it.
The plot revolves around four main characters- and I like all four of them- they are great. Jordan excels in plotting mysteries- and setting clues- the chapter heads were leading me around in circles but at the end they all circle home- along with the many plot lines for one of the best climaxes in fantasy. The ending is superb-and outdoes the great one in the previous book. I must say the scenes and story lines with Kalladan fighting his way back without Storm Light were some of the best written by any fantasy reader anywhere. I listen to these books whilst working our and running- and there were a few times I just kept going at my work out long past quitting time so a scene would resolve itself.
Note I did have to go back and listen to book one- which was a pleasure after three years absence. My guess is trying Words without a warmup from Book 1 would not be a good idea. Three years is simply to long. The set up for book three is there- and the characters are well done and crafted.
Despite his debt to Jordan Sanderson does not meander aimlessly- well at least not for long. Occasional cul de sacs do occur-but they are enjoyable.
A great series and a great start! One can only hope that he does not suffer from George Martin Syndrome (no sign of it in any of his books so far) whereby he just starts writing aimless pages of rubbish for some reason- and we can only hope that Sanderson does not start wandering aimlessly for books and books like Jordan did in books 7.5-10 in the WOT series whereby he hopelessly lost the mojo of the original 6 books.
I can only hope now that he has the final WOT completed that Sanderson will start releasing a book every 12 -18 months. PLEASE!
But at this point- this is the WOT of the 21st Century...even better perhaps. Well done Mr Sanderson.
Super performance by Pete Bradbury with another installment by Daniel Abraham. Excellent plotting- superb world created (his own not a pale imitation of someone else's). Another surprise ending. The only downside is waiting 3 years for Abraham to complete his next book. If you like medium (Low with a dash of high thrown in) some despicable, yet likable characters- look no further.
Inspired and original Mark Lawrence continues to improve (and after writing the first in the series which I thought could bear no improvement) "King" continues to follow Jorge in his journey of self discovery and adventure.
Lawrence continues to reveal himself as potentially one of the 21st century's best fantasy (or is it SCI FI?) authors- but with character and plot development equal to, or better than, any genre.
I would recommend this to ANYONE who loves great fiction and especially lovers of low FANTASY.
THANK YOU MARK!
If you have any interest in low fantasy fiction this is book is equal to or better than any published. Reminiscent of Joe Abercrombie's Red Country in some ways but certainly not derivative there of.
Jorge is a character that attracts repels, makes me laugh and cringe all within 30 seconds.
Fantastic book. Read this (or listen) if you read NO OTHER BOOK this year.
Better than the best. No comparison would be apt with any living author. Lawrence's series on Prince, King, Emperor improves with each book and improves with each reading. After the release of "Emperor" I started back and listened to "Prince" and "King" and found myself wondering why I had not listened to them again after the first hearing.
Emperor caps a fantastic series- low & dark fantasy layer onto realistic dystopic science fiction with intricate, fascinating and super character development of Jorge- love him, despise him, be attracted to, or repelled by Jorge in one page or chapter- he truly belongs with Frodo Baggins in the pantheon of fictional characters.
What a book- sad when it ended.
Lawrence is EMPEROR of Fantasy and Science Fiction- with this trifecta!
Full disclosure- I am a military history buff and I have read many of the what if's of Gettysburg plus numerous hard cover books on the Civil War (I tend to listen to fiction on audible). With Newt Gingrich as author, and my distaste for him (he irritates me) and his politics (which I find distasteful) I ALMOST did not purchase this and listen.
This would have been a huge mistake. It is well done- and having toured the battlefield (as part of a staff ride for two days) and read at least 2 dozen books on the campaign and at least three or four what-if books- I found this book compelling. It is a little Lee worshipful (over the top) but if one overlooks this - the players in the book behave within expected and historical boundaries (Meade is a plodder and works by consensus- whilst Lee, who was incapacitated to some degree to an intestinal disorder, probably mild dystentery during the actual campaign) act within these bounds. Lee, as he did at Chancellorsville and Second Mannassas takes charge and leads from the front.
Stuart is recalled early (plausibly) whilst Lee executes his ideal of a flanking march within the operational theater. I could follow all of the movements in my head (having walked the battlefield twice over a six day period) an even knew where Big Pipe Creek was (and Longstreets thinking regarding such). However a non expert would have problem following this- and someone not versed in civil war military history (and this campaign) might find it tedious and confusion.
Other than the undeserved hagiography of Lee (a construct of the post civil war) this is a flawless exercise in fictional history.
This is an excellent Sherlock Holmes adventure - as good as any of the "Non Doyle" written Cannon. In fact it would be very hard to distinguish this from Doyle- excepting that the subject matter and treatment would have been to gruesome for publication by Doyle (Faye sidesteps this by having "Watson" write and publish this in his very old age in the late 1930's as the World nears the Second War).
The feel, language and plot are vintage Holmes - but in a relaxed manner- it never veers into conscious imitation that can in turn become parody like. There are some inconsistencies- but that actually makes it seem authentic because as every Holmes fan knows Doyle would frequently change things about Holmes and his setting behavior that were at odds with previous stories and adventures. Oddly enough these minor inconsistencies (which are noted in Doyle's work by fans) work to make this seem part of the canon (the subject matter issue aside).
It also avoids the spectacular "Crown Prince or Consort" plot that bedevils some of the Ripper theories- and is Holmesian in its conclusion (a slight surprise ending but well done).
When I realized that this was the author's first effort I was even more impressed. A great investment and I actually plan (as soon as I finish other Audible Book series I have in the que) to try her series on Turn of the Century New York City Police.
Well done and well worth it if you are a Holmes fan or a mystery buff.
Not just a detective novel (nothing wrong with that) this is a SERIOUS and compelling work of fiction. As a 51 year old I found myself back in the land of 1970s: malls, Orange Julius, teenage angst and the innocence of the 70's that had yet to be marred by the hideous kidnapping and murder of children.
Don't let that throw you- this is NOT a horror or "true crime slasher" exploiting the abduction of children- but a carefully crafted work that I found compelling and enlightening.
With two authors like this (Pratchett and Baxter) I was expecting MORE (granted I have not read their works in years). The premise is cool- one can travel through and two parallel Earths that reflect different evolutionary outcomes- most of which have life- but very few with sentient beings.
Character development was abysmal-very much like early science fiction- they are simply their to move the idea and plot to its conclusion. Paperboard cutouts- and after one get the idea of the premise and concept- it become VERY predictable and BORING (despite the execution of the brilliant idea).
Save your self money- not worth the effort. I quit about 7/8 through it- to far to ethically ask Audible for my money back-but at the end I had learned all I wanted to about their idea of parallel and accessible Earths and really did not care whether the main characters lived or died or killed each other (which I would have welcomed about an hour before I finally gave up.
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