This is one of my all time favorite audio books. There are memorable characters. There is a crime boss who delves deep into philosophy. There are silly but delightful moments with a dancing bear. The main character impresses the locals in Mumbai with his knowledge of their languages and culture. After listening to Shantaram, I surprised a colleague from Mumbai with my bits of knowledge about his home city. The voice characterizations by Humphrey Bower are the best I've ever heard.
If you've listened to the first two books in this trilogy, you will want to listen to this one to find out what happens to the Peshkovs, Dewars, Williams, and other families. If not, then skip this book. The cast of characters has grown so much that some of the character development depends on the first two books. Parts of this book were very powerful. As one who is old enough to remember the Cuban Missile crisis, the assassination of Kennedy, King, and Kennedy, and the fall of the Berlin wall, I found reliving these events in this book to be very poignant. In between these world events, there was a lot of living, loving, and dying. Some of the stories are touching, but some of the love affairs seemed perfunctory. I was disappointed by the lack of any mention of the space program. For an historical novel that covers the 60s, 70s, and 80s, I would have expected the moon landings would be worth mentioning. If Pillars of the Earth rates a 5.0, this book gets a 3.6.
I don't mean to suggest the book is without merit. Like Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood", this story is well crafted. While "In Cold Blood" leaves one chilled, Stoner left me lukewarm.
With Patterson you know you will get some legal issues and a love interest. The legal drama is mostly outside the courtroom this time. With this book you also get a tabloid reporter stirred into the mix. Adam Blaine comes back from Afghanistan twice to save his dysfunctional family from complete disintegration. Adam is a modern hero who, when he is not rescuing his family, needs to be rescued by them. We get to know Carla the "home wrecker" who, like Adam, is a determined character with a troubled past. I know this is book three of a trilogy, but I won't be surprised if the Blain family appears in another book.
I'm disappointed in Audible listeners. This is the first time I've listened to a book with an average rating above 4.0 that I didn't like. One of the main characters is pathetic. The other is diabolical. The lesser characters are one dimensional. The ending was unsatisfying. I finished the book, but wish I hadn't wasted the time.
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.
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.
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.
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