For my money, it doesn't get any better than Alastair Reynolds. He has become the master of hard Science Fiction, particularly his Revelation Space series. This book serves as a prequel to the events of both Chasm City and The Revelation Space Trilogy. The Prefect is, at its heart, a police procedural yet it functions as a vital piece of the overall story that plays out through the four other Revelation Space novels. The book is written as well as any mystery out there and it's easily one of the best Science Fiction novels of 2007. As for the narration - I admit that I strongly disliked John Noble as the narrator at first, particularly his plethora of regional English, Welsh, and Scottish accents but having now listened to a half dozen of his narrations of Reynold's works he's grown on me and I've come to enjoy his narration.
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.
Alastair Reynolds is easily one of the three or four best science fiction writers working today and when it comes to hard SF, there’s really no one better. I’m convinced that Reynold’s body of work will be the standard by which both space opera and hard SF are judged for years to come. Chasm City is his best stand-alone novel (just barely nudged from the top spot imo by Redemption Ark). The novel is set within the Revelation Space universe, delving deep into the future culture in which the events of Revelation Space take place. A truly original and groundbreaking novel, Chasm City truly does redefine the space opera genre. While most space operas find convenient ways around Einstein and physics, Reynolds actually uses the physical restrictions of the real world to tell his story. The characters are relatable but just weird enough to work in the context of his universe. I highly recommend this novel for any SF fan and it works as a great introduction to Reynold’s body of work. The narration of John Lee seems, at times, a little colloquial but is otherwise fine.
Never straying too far from the standard fantasy elements that Brooks’ helped define, The Wishsong of Shannara is at best a moderately satisfying conclusion to the original Shannara series. The story follows the adventures of the third generation of Ohmsford’s as they follow Allanon on a quest to save the world again from another evil force that threatens all life. The plot is nearly identical to both The Sword of Shannara and the Elfstones of Shannara and for that this particular novel doesn’t stand out or earn high praise from prolific fantasy fans. Although there are a few tragedies tossed in and some babbling about the “end of an age” this novel in no way feels like the end of anything. Filled with a colorful assortment of predictable, paint-by-number fantasy characters and your standard assortment of travel-fight interesting monster-travel-fight interesting monster passages I found this book to be only moderately enjoyable. If you’re a fan of standard, predictable fantasy you might enjoy this book as a stand-alone read (having read the previous novels in the series is not at all necessary) but there are definitely better books out there. The audiobook narration is adequate.
The Way Of Kings promises to be one of the great long-form Fantasy series’. Taking his queues from Robert Jordan (whose epic series Sanderson took over after Jordan’s death), Sanderson lays the framework for what promises to be an exciting and intriguing ten novel series. Set in a world that is quite alien and unique but familiar enough for the reader to feel comfortable, the story follows three primary characters, a slave, a Lord, and a student, each with his or her own agenda set against a backdrop of endless war and intense political intrigue. The plot lines are loosely connected and each build toward a satisfying conclusion that works as both an ending to The Way of Kings but also sets up the next novel in the series. While the exposition may seem long and intentionally drawn out at times the novel is actually very fast paced and rarely drags, especially the audiobook. Sanderson has moved to the top of the genre and is the spiritual heir of Tolkien and Brooks and Jordan. His characters are rich and developed, his writing style is as good as any fantasy writer working today, and the worlds he creates are truly unique and a hallmark of his work. I can’t recommend this series enough. And with Michael Kramer and Kate Reading presenting the audiobook there’s really no reason for any fan of high fantasy not to own this audiobook.
I picked up this audiobook on a whim and was totally engrossed from the first five minutes of narration. It felt as if I were listening to a novel by Charles Dickens or Emily Bronte, full of that sort of whimsical, lyrical verse that only English writers seem to fully master. I purchased the e-book on my Kindle to follow along with the narration (which I strongly suggest) and enjoyed every minute of it. The story of competing magicians in a wonderfully imagined alternate Victorian England was both thoroughly engrossing and cleverly executed. The narration seemed to flow effortlessly and the exposition never bogged down by the need to over explain the universe in which it took place. After merely a few pages I was perfectly willing to accept Suzanna Clarke's vision of an England rediscovering its magic without any further need of explanation or excuse. The magic and mysticism inherent in the story itself seemed perfectly natural within the context of its characters. Although I found the footnotes distracting (the narrator halts the story, sometimes in mid-sentence, to read every one of them) at first, after a few pages I found that it worked quite well and allowed me to enjoy the story even more. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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.
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