While the title of this review may be seen as heresy by the hardcore Sci-Fi fans out there, this is one instance where the drama of real events surpasses even the greatest drama fiction can muster. The English language lacks sufficient adjectives to properly extol the writing and events of Too Big Too Fail. In addition to the superb recounting of the events leading to the collapse, William Hughes does an excellent narration. I have already recommended Too Big Too Fail to my friends and family, and I would recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest in the economic events of 2008.
As the title of this review suggests I cannot recommend this book for anyone who does not like being kicked in the gut repeatedly. While the previous two books may have left you hoping that the First Law Trilogy would have a satisfactory conclusion, it not only fails to provide that, it fails to provide any form of resolution to the story as a whole. Moreover, unless you have a completely twisted sense of morality, only the most vile of the characters get anything remotely resembling a happy ending. Every character that can possible be construed as an upstanding individual is repeatedly abused by Abercrombie, and left either insane, suffering, dieing, or dead. There are very few books I wish I had never have read, this is one of them.
Though I personally find the philosophical discussions which this book is filled with less than well-conceived, I was willing to overlook that small flaw and enjoy the characters, plot and world that Sanderson developed. Unfortunately there is one gaping flaw with this novel that I cannot overlook: the pathetic melodramatic way in which Elend and Vin behave with regards to their relationship. If you like shoujo manga or anime you probably will not object to the overdone tropes that pervade their relationship. However, I for one cannot stand the idea that two people would be so foolish as to wander around wallowing in self-pity and self-doubt rather than talk about their concerns with the person they love. If you can ignore their romantic bumbling, and Sanderson's woefully unbelievable attempt to make their relationship into a love triangle, this is a quality novel which I probably would have given a 4.5, but as it is written I can give it no higher than a 3.
Regarding the complaints other listeners have brought up about the narration, it is my viewpoint that Martin Freeman's narration, while different than that of Stephen Fry's, is not particularly worse. I much preferred Fry's voice for Zaphod, but within a couple of hours I was past this minor impediment to my listening enjoyment.
To me, the book lacked much of the humor it's predecessor possessed in abundance, instead it places much more focus upon advancing the plot. That is to say it has less humorous moments, as opposed to the quality of the humor having diminished. Having said that, the conclusion of the book definitely makes "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" a worthwhile read for all those who enjoyed it's predecessor.
What can be said about this book that has not already been said. It easily belongs to the top tier of historical fiction novels ever written. The superb writing and character development will capture your imagination and get even the most hard-hearted to feel for the characters. As this novel is renowned for, it masterfully covers the deplorable nature of slavery, and the unfortunate situation the United States (and at various periods, much of the rest of the world) was in.
Matching this marvelous writing is an equally marvelous narrator who brings a unique personality to even the most minor of parts.
I highly recommend this book to anyone with even the slightest interest in history as you will not be disappointed.
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