I gave up on this book several times. OMG. I could not be less interested in the journal entries of a Special Forces Captain as he awaits a status report on what will be -- and this is hardly a spoiler -- the Zombocalpse. However, once Captain Harden leaves his bunker and starts carrying out his mission, we watch as if through a helmetcam the well-detailed journey.
Granted, a lot of details have to do with weapons and small-scale combat. This is not a psychological investigation of humanity's encounter with the undead or the various kinds of degradation into which some of our species fall after The End of Civilization As We Know It. There are simply the givens of the new normal in which an archetypal hero fights his way through setbacks, near-mortal wounds, treachery, and mischance to reach his grail.
The reward for listening to this book is that you will most likely be hooked and want more. Subsequent books are equally full of fast action, dangers, reversals and gritty hope. Expect the usual reductions of undesirables to laughable caricatures: the mealy-mouthed politician, the book-learned professor unsuited to survival outside his ivory tower, the incurious and easily misled dross of humanity, etc... Also expect typical female gender-roles, sadistic crooks, and the usual whiney sell-outs. Only the damaged-but-dogged military men and their gun-trained lieutenants are the natural leaders we can trust in an undead world.
Although Captain Harden and I would probably not exist in the same universe in real life, I find myself guiltily binge-listening to his progress. If I'm this susceptible to his blood-and-guts-soaked charms, I think anyone will be.
It takes a while to chew through through the rind of the author's set-up before savoring the tastier plot morsels later on. Once you've shucked the shell of introductory material, there is a fair amount of guesswork -- enough to keep you listening. Also, the narrator is good at distinguishing voices; I was never at a loss for who was speaking. All these positives outweigh the negatives of Norman Rockwell sentiment and corny repartee. Overall, soldiering through "Old Man's War" along with the characters is a worthwhile investment in time. The author succeeds in drawing us into his world and reflecting on his questions about humanity even if the answers are not surprising.
In far less space than the typical doorstop tome, Wood illuminates Franklin's long professional and intellectual trek to become the most "American" of the founders. Anyone who relies on their high school or college understanding of Franklin will profit from Wood's treatment of a man who was truly a lifelong learner, but one careful never to be too far out in front of what the traffic would bear. Insufficiently appreciated in his time, Franklin turns out to be every bit as much responsible for the success of American independence even if his vision of how to frame the Constitution of the new nation did not emerge as the orthodox view. A great listen.
Bart Ehrman once again applies an erudite scholarship to the early period of Christianity. This time, he traces the development of the belief that Jesus was not only a Messiah, but part of a Triune God. Ehrman uses comparisons to pagan and Jewish attitudes toward divinity and a meticulously researched unfolding of Christian views starting with Paul and ending with the Nicene and post-Nicene creeds. Ehrman's reading of his own text is great fun. Once he warms to his topic one can hear his training in fire-and-brimstone sermonizing that makes otherwise detailed historical analysis actually spellbinding.
No other sword of power fulfills its purpose better than the Sword of Luck. Conceived by the gods to make sport of humanity and forged by Vulcan for their divine entertainment, Coinspinner follows the fickle destiny for which it was created. Yet, with the old Olympians now passed from the scene, perhaps Coinspinner's object lessons are not always guided by the dictum, "Whom gods destroy they first raise up."
Coinspinner leaves many questions unanswered. I actually listened twice to the ending just to be sure I didn't miss anything. Nope. Regardless of scabbard, whether finely wrought or rough-clothed, Coinspinner's true casing is enigma.
In the narrative voice of fables we follow the ill-omened career of Farslayer in a remote part of the world. Mischance follows upon mideeds as forces and eminences vie to possess the Sword of Vengeance. Saberhagen keeps you guessing right up the end who will possess the weapon that does not rest easily in its hilt.
If you have already been enchanted by the magic of Saberhagen's world, this Fourth Book will place you under its spell in spite of the not always well-voiced characters. This is a recording that would come across better if there were one male and one female reader. But, in the end, an engaging tale that rewards the time spent.
On to Number Five.
Larry Correia simply can't resist using the word "gay" as a derogatory adjective meaning useless, weak, silly. Women in this book do little more than divine when men need their sexual favors and proffer said intimacacies without prompting. And it's hard to get your arms around the main the characters whose main delight in life is killing. I listened to the first third third of the book and walked out. Sorry, Correia really went off the rails on this one.
You don't really notice the fact that there are almost no women, and for anyone who cares, a few less-than-positive references to gays. The story-telling is so powerful and the wordimagery so accessible to the imagination that I wanted more immediately. The ending, which I won't spoil, does hint at a sequel. I hope there is one. This book is everything sci-fi can and should be: a speculation on the future of the human species that engages us and leaves us thinking rather than just entertained.
I've read all of the books in this series and enjoyed them. Both the writing and the performance make the series among the very best of the genre. This one had the ingredients. Fast pace, humorous banter, interesting magical twists (perhaps too many)... but somehow the parts didn't cohere. I think that Hearne has created a series that requires a good recollection of the previous books, which escaped me. I found myself wondering: what was the situation with Bacchus? Wasn't Odin angry because of previous shenanigans played out in the Norse pantheon? When was Lief seduced by the dark side?It was just quite a lot to wade through even before the English Channel. Perhaps a new story line free from previous associations would be a better bet for any novels in this series. And please, no spin-offs.
You won't mind that the characterizations are little more than sci-fi shadow puppets or that the sole female character "unexpectedly" can handle a reality TV obstacle course with the best of them. The star of the show is the fast-moving narrative. I was so intrigued with the science and weaponry that I stopped the recording several times to look up references to myrmecology, weaver ants, and the latest technology in weapons, body armor, and pilotless aircraft. I was never bored. In the more fast moving scenes, the narrator's different accents sluice over each into each other, but you'll forgive the untethered tongue for the speed and engagement of the tale. A great listen. Highly recommended.
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