I loved listening to this book. The story is gripping, with two flawed and complex protagonists whose lives intersect and then diverge again. The prose is simple, yet somehow reveals emotional depth and conveys both the joys and the horrors of life along the Oregon Trail. The narrator's understated performance matches the writing perfectly.
I don't have much to add to the chorus of accolades, except that I thought Allen Corduner's narration was absolutely perfect. This is a gem of a book that I will be recommending to everyone I know.
This story is told in two voices of one character: Jacob at 25 and Jacob at 90 (or 93). Though I thought the younger narrator's reading was overly melodramatic, I loved the older one, and the story was so great it deserved 5 stars anyway.
This is a fascinating look into the circus business circa 1930...gritty, violent and rambunctious...with a love story woven in and marvelous characters with real depth. It's also a realistic but loving look at life in a nursing home.
I'm looking forward to reading more by this author.
This story has definite echoes of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and to a lesser degree, Harry Potter, but it has its own unique aspects, too. I found the writing and narrator both to be MUCH better than "The Kingdoms and the Elves of the Reaches," which reviewers on this site were also raving about. No, Paolini hasn't yet achieved Tolkien's greatness (I'm fairly certain that Tolkien wouldn't have used the verb "morphed"), but he's come a lot closer than many! I'm looking forward to the continuation of the story.
I've just finished the first book, so my opinion may change as time goes on, but I think the comparisons to "Lord of the Rings" are as overblown as some of the prose passages in the book.
The story jumps around a lot, and I think the narrator could have done a much better job of changing tone and timbre to indicate jumps in time or between characters. It's not all his fault, though; there were some transitions that left me wondering if my iPod Shuffle had skipped a section (it has trouble with bookmarking), but no -- when I re-wound I hadn't really missed anything.
All that said, the story is sufficiently original and interesting that I do intend to at least get the second book to see if the disparate story lines ever come together!
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