Get this book, but only if you have listened to Earth Unaware. Earth Afire could stand on its own, but it is better when you already know some of the characters. There are several plot lines and many characters in this book. Some characters like Victor and Mazer were introduced in the previous book. A major new character is Bingwen, a 10-year old Chinese boy who is wise beyond his years. I don't know how precocious Orson Scott Card was as a child, but it is clear he likes to write about extraordinary children. One plot line involving Rena and the other survivors of the El Cavador has no intersection with the other elements in this book. I prefer books where the story is resolved at the end, but this is the second part of a trilogy so the cliffhanger end is not a surprise.
This is a simple story of a troubled youth who is different and considering drastic measures. The plot has some parallels with "Ordinary People", but is far more riveting. All of the characters are extreme, yet they all remind us of people we know. The narration is among the best I've heard. If you are not moved by this story, you have no heart.
It is a tall order to weave the lost treasures of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan, the approach of Comet Icon (ISON?), dark energy, a wrinkle in the space-time continuum, and the end of the world into one coherent story. Rollins almost manages this feat. My biggest problem was that while the characters were engaged in mortal combat, I didn't care about them. Maybe this is because I'm new to the series. Rollins seemed to assume that I knew and loved them already. Would a bit more character development be too much for the veterans of the series?
As other reviews have noted, the narration was not good. Not only did all of the Asian voices sounded the same, they all sounded like a bad kung fu movie.
The book also suffers by trying to be both a suspense novel and a science fiction novel. It falls a little short on both counts. Good science fiction (IMHO) only breaks one law of physics. This story invents quite a bit of "physics" surrounding dark energy.
I did finish the book. I wasn't wild about the magic in the last chapter either.
If you are looking for one breathless chase after another, this is not your book. Brown spends more time describing renaissance works of art than action sequences. There was still intrigue and mystery enough to hold my interest. As with all books by Dan Brown, one has to wonder which characters are not what they seem. The art descriptions were also interesting. Florence, Venice, and Istanbul will probably have "Inferno" tours. I might be tempted to join them if I were in one of these cities. A slightly annoying habit continued from other books--Brown attempts to create suspense by telling you that something happend and then waiting a chapter or more to tell you what happened. Overall I found the book enjoyable and looked for opportunities to continue listening.
I enjoyed this book, but I'm a bit of a numbers junkie myself. Silver does a great job of explaining complicated subjects in plain English--good enough to make best-seller lists. He explains predictions for politics, weather, baseball, poker, economics including the stock market, earthquakes, global climate change, and terrorism. He ties this together with Bayesian statistics. He describes this in terms that anyone can apply. Along the way he explains over fitting and under fitting of models. He describes the advantages of models based on physical principles. I enjoyed the way he used betting terms (hedgehog and fox) to describe political pundits. I would make this book required reading for a statistics class. It won't thrill everyone, but anyone who is curious about predictions will enjoy it.
This is another excellent story form Bryce Courtenay. Fans of his books will recognize familiar themes from previous books. The characters are engaging and the narration by Humphrey Bower is excellent (although many of the female voice characterizations sound similar). The real impact comes in the epilog where the author, "facing his own use-by date", outlines the plot for the remainder of the never-to-be-completed trilogy. Few people leave this earth with as much grace and completeness as Bryce Courtenay.
I was ready for a classic finale including the ultimate confrontation between Katniss and President Snow. What I got was more teenage angst and "who do I like" questions. The end leaves enough threads hanging to allow for a 4th installment, but Suzanne Collins has lost me with this mediocre effort.
As I started listening it felt like a homecoming with familiar characters and familiar narrators continuing a story I had listened too years ago. When I finished, I wasn't fully satisfied--I wanted to spend more time with this book.
All of the characters seem to be descendants of either the tin woodsman, the scarecrow, or the cowardly lion. In this world where everyone suffers from a major personality flaw, it is no wonder that the heroes are those with brains and courage, and no heart. All of the characters suffer from verbal diarrhea. A homeless stowaway on board a train talks for an hour about the takeover of a motor plant by brain-dead descendants of the founder. He has them quoting Karl Marx (without attribution): "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." One of the main characters delivers a national radio address that would make Bill Clinton or Fidel Castro seem like models of brevity. I've enjoyed Scott Brick in many other books. In this case his characters either speak in a monotone or are constantly whining. Maybe this was just a faithful representation of Rand's characters. Before you buy this book, you should look up Ayn Rand's views on objectivism. If you have serious problems with this philosophy, you will have serious problems with this book. Personally, I find some elements of objectivism useful, but taken as a whole, the philosophy is woefully inadequate. One of the protagonists directly attacks St. Paul's treatise on love: ("The kind who never asked you for faith, hope, and charity, but offered you facts, proof, and profit."). I don't believe that my highest calling is personal pleasure. I also found Rand's foray into science fiction wanting (a motor that gets its energy from static electricity in the air?) I rated this book a 2 rather than 1 because I managed to finish all 63 hours of it. There is a narrative that has a reasonable conclusion.
An excellent story well told. Only the recent demise of Osama bin Laden kept this from being a heart pounder. The characters are engaging. This book featured some of the best villain character development I've encountered. With "Exile" as a 5, this story rates a 4.3.
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