A refreshing romp through a gritty yet colorful medieval fantasy setting that follows a mercenary company recruited by the arch villain. They'll stick it to the rebel "good guys" all the way, often with cheerful deviousness. The story follows the sole 1'st person perspective of the Black Company's annalist/historian/medic giving it a distinct grunt's eye view of a much bigger conflict. There's also no shortage of likeable characters to get attached to; it's neither too serious or too somber.
The narrator definitely takes some getting used to though. At first he sounded like he was channeling Captain Kirk or something and it was most distracting; you'll see some hate on that topic in the other reviews. However, I think he settles into the role eventually and about 1/3 in I didn't even notice anymore. He manages the few female voices there are well enough. Certainly not so cringe worthy as other male narrators I've heard trying the same.
Stays true to the title. Point A to point B with all the trouble in between following a nationwide EMP effect. Starts on relatively easy mode in day one or two as people expect things to return to normal then the inevitable backslide into desperation and banditry. Still pockets of civilization and nicely realistic. There is a strong whiff of "Thanks Obama" without naming any names but there's no denying that the "current administation" - as the book identifies them - inspires these sorts of stories.
I actually like the narrator but a jarring flaw is the complete absence of any distinction when the narrator has jumped to a completely different/distant scene, especially in the second half when it is pretty much 3 separate stories being told at once. This strikes me as more a production failure than an artistic one, easily fixed with a brief audio cue or a pause-Character Name Here-pause whenever they jump scenes.
Sins forgiven, was as a satisfying story. No regrets.
Beware of the all encompassing feminine social experiment the fairly interesting book description makes ZERO mention of. One would think a setting featuring a near total plague exterminated male population and hyper feminized spineless culture would merit mention to would be readers. Not so here apparently.
Look forward to details like "the fashionable hand shaped deep pink passion patch located at the crotch of his light grey body suit", jokes about invoking a-generation-ago-emancipated "Ladies Right" forcing men to perform obligatory reproductive sex and having every Sir/Ma'am, Ladies/Gentlemen replaced with "Gracious Lady" and "Gentle Sir". The latter enforced and repeated with the diligence of a commissar and each time making me want to throw up a little inside. Looking again to the book description, this is not what I signed up for.
However, the real salt in the wound here is the absolutely dreadful narrator. Think Captain Kirk on heavy sedatives. Why must. Each. And every. Sentence. Be spoken. As if. Cruelly impaled. By a hundred. Barbed. Commas. Wielded by. An angry God?
6 hours in, still no sign of the death world and I could endure no more. The list of books I have ever quit on is a very short one. This horrid narration of Koban makes that list.
Glorious low brow adventure. That might not be enough for some but Dina Pearlman isn't just narrating the story of a big, biker chick caught up in fantastical Flash Gordon sci fi adventures, she bloody well sounds like one. Her performance sounds so beautifully in character that the book could get by with just a so-so story rather than the very charming, trope nostalgic and clever one that it is.
The author does very well in writing a female adventure protagonist that doesn't just come off as just a guy with boobs. Not too feminine, not too manly, very... American Biker Amazon but not a butch one. All very down to earth and free of high minded idealism or grim/dark villainy, definitely a grinning popcorn flick.
Follows a single perspective throughout so if you need a break from constant character hopping ala Game of Thrones, bonus. Also taught me what the "phone book trick" means in police speak. Learn something new every day.
If any book in the Black Company series can drive a fan to quit, it is this one. The constant, disjointed, mind numbing jumps between perspective time periods turns this book into some bastardized choose-your-own-adventure story. Take a regular novel, chop it into a dozen or two pieces, then read those pieces in random order and you've got Bleak Seasons.
The narrator does such a fine job with the voices, I almost pity the man for having to read this assault on listeners minds.
The style of presentation in Bleak Seasons is so dreadful and of no narrative relation to its predecessors that one has to wonder if Glen Cook were in a particularly vile mood when he wrote it and was purposefully trying to kill the series.
Like a kid mismatching toys from a mass box, wonder no more what might happen when you match a regiment of Union troops against a vast horde of 10 foot man eating alien mongols.
Several genuinely likable characters, not-too-pretentious on the abolitionist/freedom side and certainly NOT the bald faced hubris you'd find in stuff like 300. Some peeps grumble about an excess of grimly this n sullenly that but listening through it I didn't even notice. If you came to Rally Cry for the battles (see the toy box above) you won't be dissappointed.
The narrator definitely took some getting used to. It wasn't till halfway in I finally decided I could live with him. Maybe a 3/5 narration. The other reviews are spot on that his 'standard' voice is lacking, but Lawlor does sound much better when he kicks in the accented characters.
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