Hard to believe I have been reading this series for 20 years. The first five books or so were stellar, then it started to drag on as Jordan brought in more and more characters and storylines. People began to question if he had lost control of the story. I was one of them. Sure enough, some of those plotlines were forgotten, by me anyway. However, it started to pick up again around book ten (IIRC) and the last three books by Sanderson have been outstanding. This last book is the best I've read in a long time. Kudos to Jordan and Sanderson for a thundering epic fantasy series, and the narrators for bringing it to life.
I ended up buying all three books, and I enjoyed them, but it was really hard to like this hero. He is not much of an assassin. The only assassinations he does are by poisoning and those are mostly zombies, and he feels guilty about it. He kills in self defense and feels guilty about it. He doesn't take out the really bad people, even though everyone knows they are the really bad people and he would have saved thousands of lives and endless suffering if he had poisoned them too, because of some promise he made... but mostly because it would end the story too soon.
He has magic ability he doesn't want to use and doubts himself constantly and really hates himself... but ends up saving the kingdom anyway... and gets little credit for it. He spends a large chunk of the third book on a useless quest, and all the while he is thinking (and I was thinking) this is a bad idea. And it was.
Conan he is not. He is more like Conan's half-witted baby sister.
Despite all that, the plot was good, the world was rich, and the narration was very good. There is magic and herbology and animal kinship woven in here. I enjoyed it overall. I just wish the main character had more backbone.
This book is about walking along old paths, and not much more than that, however Macfarlane's prose is flawless and beautifully descriptive; it immediately drew me in. The narrator's voice is soft and hypnotic with a slight English lilt. I have never heard a better pairing of book and narrator. They weave in a considerable amount of history about these paths along the way, from Britain to Israel to Spain to Tibet. I enjoyed it enough to read it again.
The book starts slowly but depicts the utopian society well. The writing and descriptions are strong. I give the book three stars for that. But I found most of what was shocking to be predictable, and the ending was a letdown. The author didn't know how to end it, so he left it vague for the reader to figure out. Was it a dream? Was it real? Was it magic? Was it some benevolent deity? You decide. No, Mr. Author, you decide -- that's your job, not mine.
The setting is a spin on some old ideas. An Orwellian society was done in, well, 1984. The idea of society's sacrificial lamb has been explored before, such as Jackson's short story "The Lottery" which came out in 1948.
And there were huge plot holes. The author had a strong theme and point to make, which I applaud, but didn't plug the holes. I would have enjoyed this more if I wasn't constantly bothered by pesky questions.
Warning: slight spoilers...
If you buy the vague existentialism of everyone's feelings and memories being contained in one person and released violently if he/she dies, fine, but if they are so dangerous why do they leave it all up to one person? They think of everything else, so what about a backup Giver in case the one and only Giver decides to, I don't know, off himself because he can't take the suffering and isolation anymore? And seeing color is due to physical hard wiring, every mammal has it to a certain extent. You can't lose it because you can't remember what war or snow is like.
And the big one: you take a 12 year old who has not experienced suffering of any kind, then torture him every day for a year, tell him he is going to be an outcast for the rest of his life, tell him he has nothing to look forward to but a life of pain and isolation, tell him there will be no one he can talk to about it until some decades later when he is going to inflict all this on some other poor kid that he has to select himself... why are you surprised when the kid tries to escape? And I can't believe the last Receiver selected was the first since "back and back" who killed herself. This would happen every time.
And finally, where does the kid pedal his bike, for hours and weeks on end? If he was going through forest thick enough to hide from airplanes, where did he find roads to ride on?
I picked up this book because hers was my favorite minor character on 2 1/2 Men. I liked her in 40 Year Old Virgin too. I've never watched Glee so I only know her in bit parts, and I had no idea she had so many. I Youtubed and found her appearances in movies, TV shows, and commercials I had seen over the years and sure enough, she has been everywhere. It's great to see a hard working and abundantly talented actor finally hit big. The title is misleading -- she had Happy Accidents, it's true, but also decades of persistence, hard work, and lifetime connections that paid off.
However I couldn't relate to her life story, and while interesting it didn't grab me. I enjoyed the book though, and it was narrated by a pro -- herself.
Immediately after reading this book I got the other two, so I'm reviewing all together: the characters and the stories were original and startlingly great. The series is as good as The Wheel of Time before Jordan lost his way at around, oh, book six or so. Never a dull or predictable moment. I enjoyed every minute of this series.
This is the story of how a dreamer can become a charismatic con man and then a religious leader with thousands of fanatic followers, and his very own pretend navy. It's a story of how those fanatics will swallow anything and will bully and harass anyone who opposes them, until even the mighty IRS is afraid to stand up to them. It shows that no matter how ridiculous the story, if you call it a religion and really sell it, someone will buy it. If anyone can read this book and not be inspired to go out and find their own army of fools, I will be not surprised. Because there are so many idiots in this world, and Hubbard has surely sucked them all in already.
It's a good story, but short, with great, but few, characters. It's more of a novella than a novel. I enjoyed it but I wouldn't consider it a classic. The ending was a bit predictable, and the denouement whipped through several decades and left a lot of questions.
I docked a star for the poor narration. The narrator's voice was perfect, but her lip smacking, breath noises, and pregnant pauses ruined it for me. I have never heard such a clunky sound track. I don't understand why they didn't simply edit them out -- just a few hours' work in Audacity and the narration would have been smooth and professional.
It's nice to see the master back in full form. This collection of novellas doesn't have a dud in the bunch. I found myself eagerly awaiting to see what happened next, which is odd considering they were short and simple stories. The characters are incredibly strong and placed in real situations so vivid that I found myself caring about them. The narration is excellent.
I always enjoy Wilmore's spots on The Daily Show. His mild take on racism has some unexpected reversals -- like the title, "I'd rather we got casinos". The bits in this book are in the same vein but most go on too long and lack punch. I would say it's amusing most of the time and funny only some of the time. His delivery is perfect though. He is an excellent narrator.
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