Knife of Dreams has the distinct feel of an attempt to answer fan complaints. The preceding novel, Crossroads of Twilight, was easily the low point of the series – full of filler and nonsense and quite obviously intended to stretch out a tale that should have ended 50,000 pages earlier. Jordan picks up the pace, tightens the narrative, and finally starts to slowly move the entire story forward again, which is no easy task considering the fact that the entire plot has been mired in a quicksand of subplots and character exposition since the epic conclusion of Lord of Chaos. The book spends so much time tying up loose and meaningless plot threads that, although you appreciate what Jordan is attempting, it in and of itself becomes tedious. Before Jordan’s death he claimed that this would be the second to last novel – that he would end the series in one more book – A Memory of Light. It’s hard to imagine that he could have done so without producing a 3000 page book. Although the novel does being slowly inch toward the final battle it in no way gets close. It was no surprise when Brandon Sanderson, who took over the series, had to resort to three more books. The good news is, the series is moving again and the books that follow are infinitely better.
If I have time, certainly. It's very much like one of the better series on TV, one of those things I might enjoy every now and again.
The characterizations were spot on and in perfect synch with the Third Doctor eps.
Tons of nostalgia, remembering my days as a kid, watching Doctor Who on my local PBS station on Saturday nights.
Here is a book that is not only a stellar Doctor Who novel in its own right, but does a superb job of capturing the atmosphere of the classic BBC series, from the cheesy cheeky characters to the weird alien stuff (like alien possessed attack cows!) to even the bad special effects. I’ve read several Who novels and this is the only one that I feel truly captures the essence of what makes the old series so unique and special, stories that weren’t built on special effects but used stellar writing and a talented cast to rise above the cheap sets, the goofy costumes, and sometime silly “Britishness” of the series (and I mean that in the fondest possible context, I truly do). You can literally picture the knock-off effects and bad costumes in the writing. This is every bit a Third Doctor story, from the Doctor’s exile on earth and his time with UNIT. There are several Third Doctor series on Netflix, I strongly encourage any reader who hasn’t seen the Third Doctor in action to watch a Third Doctor series or two before reading this book. Being able to put faces and personalities with the characters really brings this story to life.
All of Terry Brook’s novels, at least the Shannara novels, follow the same basic template. You have a character who finds himself (or herself), typically through circumstances beyond his control, suddenly thrust into a quest with an assortment of companions of varying races to travel to ____ in order to find the mythical _____ so that he or she can usually do something to save the world. As a result, most of Brook’s novels tend to feel similar and are of a similar tone with characters that stray very little from the norm. That said, once you lower your expectations and accept the fact that these stories aren’t likely to stray very far from the template, this extended series can be quite enjoyable, particularly if you enjoy good, escapist, low risk fantasy (the diametric opposite of George RR Martin). As a prequel to Terry Brook’s original Shannara series, this book feels quite at home and does round out the story, the world, and the events of those first three novels. There’s some novelty here, revisiting familiar territory and a few familiar characters, and a decent adventure. As an audiobook, expertly narrated, this presentation is great, escapist fun, well worth a month's credit.
The Blade Itself is dark, melodramatic, and a great deal of fun. This is not your typical epic, go on a quest and save the world kind of fantasy. Instead we are thrust into a world of morally ambiguous anti-heroes – a disfigured torturer, an arrogant nobleman, and an infamous warrior with a checkered past who all cross paths and eventually find their fates align in the shadow of an impending war. There is intrigue, drama, a great deal of action, lots of twisted humor, and plenty to enjoy in this first entry of Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy. Steven Pacey is one of the top two or three fantasy narrators working today. This is an audiobook series that no true fantasy fan should be without. Even if you've read the series (as I have), get the audiobook and read it again.
Hyperion stands as one of the greatest SF novels of the second half of the 20th century. Part allegory, part mystery, drawing inspiration from every spectrum of fiction from The Canterbury Tales to the poetry of John Keats, this novel elevates Science Fiction to a literary form. Like the aforementioned Canterbury Tales the novel follows a quasi-religious quest to the fabled and mysterious planet of Hyperion where mankind’s first true encounter with an alien race takes place. Each member of the pilgrimage has a story to tell, each a piece to a larger, far more intricate puzzle whose final solution may hold the key to the survival of mankind. Simmon’s future is wholly familiar yet startlingly alien in many ways. His characters are developed through their tales and the mysteries they unfold make this an undeniable page turner. If you enjoy Science Fiction that goes beyond robots and ray guns and endeavors to explore the big and essential questions of life and death and what it means to be human this novel is not be missed. The various narrators really bring this story to live in audio form.
The narrative follows two slowly developing events – a chase to recover the kidnapped child of a Belter botanist and the political posturing of a potty mouthed, grandmotherly UN ambassador who feels her own brand of old-lady wisdom is the only thing holding civilization together. She joins with revenge-seeking marine and eventually finds her way to Holden and his crew, who have teamed up with the botanist on a mission of mercy, where all discover they have a common enemy and a common purpose. Great action sequences follow with happy endings all around. Unlike Leviathan Wakes, which followed similar narratives but felt at every moment of the story, like those narratives paled against larger and far more significant (and alien) problems in the universe, Abaddon’s Gate seems to put those larger, more significant problems in a holding pattern while mankind embarks upon a series of illogical and nonsensical actions that tosses all three factions: Earthers, Martians, and Belters into a pointless war that none can truly win and in the grand scheme of things doesn’t matter anyway. As a result, the novel felt a lot like filler, where nothing of any real importance in the context of the larger story seemed to happen. Despite my problems with the overall story, Abaddon’s Gate is superbly executed with tight, well written action sequences, a level of characterization you don’t often see in space opera, and enough action to move the novel along at a brisk pace. As a stand-alone volume this novel is rather good and certainly enjoyable. In the context of the larger series, this feels like it will be one of the weaker entries.
Watership Down is a monumental piece of young adult fiction and one of those books you can enjoy again and again. Written for children but never condescending or silly, this novel follows the adventures of a group of rabbits as they struggle to overcome catastrophe. The novel begins with a group of male (buck) rabbits escaping their home and venturing into the wild with hopes of finding a new home in a place far from the natural enemies of rabbits (mainly men). Along the way they overcome numerous obstacles and trials and each of them grow and develop through these various trials. At times allegorical and at other times a high adventure story, there are deep themes at play all through this novel from the dangers of communism to the role of religion and myth. Taking his cues from the ancient beast fable, Richard Adams creates a rich and vibrant world for his characters complete with history and language and occupied by characters so well developed you’ll feel a personal connection to each one of them by the novels conclusion. Highly recommended and an excellent audiobook.
Although Brandon Sanderson’s popularity has skyrocketed since being chosen to complete Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, buzz for what I consider one of modern fantasies best series’ continues to be on the lighter side. Mistborn is both epic and personal and oftentimes quite funny and endearing and should be as popular as Wheel of Time or Game of Thrones. This first novel follows a young street urchin with strange powers in a world ruled by evil (imagine a world where Sauron won and the Hobbits lost). As Vin begins her heroes journey from slavery she is mentored by Kelsier, the charismatic leader of a band of outlaws each yielding his own magical powers. Their task – to restore a world mired in evil and destroy the Lord Ruler. Here is a book with a solid, uncompromising system of magic that makes sense and is used in ways that make sense. Sanderson is second to none when it comes to world and character building and his story, while it strays very little from the common hero quest form, does not disappoint. This is a series that no fantasy fan should be without. Excellent narration by Michael Kramer just adds to the richness of this quality, fantasy epic.
If you want to save a credit you can download every single sermon in this series from Dr. Piper's website. However, it was well worth a credit to be able to download all 8 years worth of sermons at one time and have them consolidated and sorted in Audible. For a christian, these sermons are game changers, truly eye opening and life changing. Rarely has any pastor or theologian presented the greatest of all the epistles in such a clear and profound manner - dutifully explaining the sophisticated theology in a way that any layman can understand while at the same time revealing the every day life application of this book. If you've put your faith in the Gospel, this is a book you need to know and there's no better expositor then John Piper.
Leviathan Wakes is as technically solid a space opera book as you’re going to find. James S.A. Corey (actually a pseudonym for two authors) weaves a story that, while not all that original, is enjoyable, fast paced, and compelling enough to hold your attention well past bed time. The novel, set in a distant future where mankind has conquered in the inner solar system, involves corporate intrigue on a massive scale, an alien encounter, political drama, and even zombies. The story is told through the eyes of two main characters, a naïve but well intentioned executive officer determined to protect his crew and make sure the truth is out there, and a hardened, fallen cop obsessed with case and wrought with a plethora of inner demons. As the civilization around them erupts into all-out war they slowly begin to piece things together and could hold the key to saving all of mankind. The characters are well written and the action is stellar with just enough techno-babble to keep even the most discerning reader content. If you’re any kind of fan of space opera (Alastair Reynolds, Peter F. Hamilton) then I highly recommend this excellent book.
Michael Kramer and Kate Reading are the best in the business. They bring this series to life.
Matt Cauthon of course - the gambler.
They enhance the characters, bring the drama to life, and can communicate so much non verbally that you just don't get reading the book alone.
Unless you've watched the 13 previous films don't waste your money!
A Memory of Light, the 14th and final book of Robert Jordan’s massive epic, is an exhausting, tedious affair that trudges along at too a slow of a pace only to wrap up at breakneck speed, tying plot threads, loose ends, and storylines up so quickly it will make your head spin. Encompassing the “Last Battle” in tedious detail, the book concludes the journeys of all the main, supporting, and minor characters (and there are many!) in epic fashion. Every character is given his or her moment to shine, every bad guy from the black aja to the forsaken, to the dark lord himself are given their just desserts and a few tragic endings aside, most of your favorite characters will make out just fine by novel’s end. If you’re looking for plot twists or unexpected deaths you’ve come to the wrong series. In the end, there is very little that I wasn’t already expecting to happen. All in all it was an adequate, fitting conclusion to one of fantasies’ best and most prolific series’. Brandon Sanderson was the perfect choice to finish Jordan’s epic.
As a whole, the series starts out with great promise, drags horribly through most of the second half, then picks up for a decent and somewhat thrilling finish. I would never recommend this series without strongly urging any reader to consider the audiobooks as a companion to the printed text. Michael Kramer and Kate Reading bring so much vibrancy and richness to this story it’s hard to imagine anyone truly appreciating the series without their narration.
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