This is one of those tales that will not appeal to anyone who looks forward to summer blockbusters for their enlightened storytelling and character development.
Rather, it's a gloriously intricate tale focusing on the maneuverings of intelligence services. Not surprisingly, and exactly because intelligence services mostly attempt to outthink and not outfight, things blow up irregularly and progress deliberately.
If you've struggled with a John LeCarre title or found that Umberto Eco moves "too slowly", this is not for you.
Even with the black things from other planes occasionally shredding some hapless dude.
In the hands of a hack, even "shocking" violence quickly becomes formulaic, dull Mindless slaughter a plot does not make. Effective character development is also, apparently, optional during a pogrom.
People don't like it when you swap narrators on them mid saga. I get that.
Random House's decision to replace Roy Dotrice for John Lee in the middle of the George RR Martin stuff annoyed me and (according to reviews) everyone else. I was amused to note that once Martin's stuff became so popular that they completely re-recorded the John Lee books. And it was the right thing to do.
This is worse. Far worse.
Replacing the magnificent Ralph Lister with this Michael Page clown for the fourth Malazan book is a move of unrivaled stupidity. Lister was amazing. Page is dreadful enough to make a truly sublime saga unlistenable.
The narrator's take on a character's voice is how the listener identifies the cast. In a series with hundreds of characters, this is vital. Michael Page can't even be bothered to maintain internal consistency with his own voices.
I was delighted to have discovered Steven Erikson's works. I doubt I'll listen to another.
Page is that bad.
I'm sure some fool will post a "it was too confusing / I couldn't get into it / there were too many characters/ what does Moonspawn look like anyway?" reviews sooner or later. Which, of course, will beg the question: Why would you buy a 42 hour long book if you've the attention span of a gnat?
It's as good as all the positive reviews suggest.
And unlike another remarkably skilled fantasy author, Steven Erikson has completed his grand saga. You actually get to see how it ends... how the author penned the final page.. not how HBO finished it because the author got fat, rich, lazy, and had a heart attack.
Suzanne Collins has written several books that might appeal to the sensibilities of the negative reviewers... I'll bet they can even follow the plot on those.
For anyone who loves that rarest of science fiction treasures, a complex and fascinating tale couched in prose that shows genuine competence with the written language, stop here.
I think that the "only slightly psychotic" warship "Falling Outside The Normal Moral Constraints" may be one of my favorite characters in any tale, ever.
I'd love to see HBO try to edit this sprawling, inane mass of cheap cliche and adolescent sexuality into a compelling narrative.
Perhaps someone will start anew from scratch. It won't be worse.
On the strength of the reviews which claimed this was somehow different than the hundreds of mediocre swords-and-sorcery tales already written, I grabbed it.
Nothing unique. Nothing new.
Somebody's already done it, somewhere, better.
Pros- Outstanding narrator who carries the entire experience. Original, fascinating system of magic. Decent political machinations somewhat reminiscent of the great house struggles in Dune.
Cons- Sanderson can't actually write dialogue or develop characters in an convincing manner. It's not as bad as the Wheel of Time drivel, but not worth your time.
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