There are two main differences between this book and the previous two books in the series - the first is that it's about half the size. The second is that the camera is panned around a bit - instead of the tight focus on Alys, Cedric, the Tarmon, the Dragons and their Keepers, we get a peek at what is happening in the wider world - Selden the Elderling, Tintaglia and her mate Icefire (who fits the expression "not unless he was the last man on Earth" nicely), Martya and Rayne, the situation in Chalced and what's happening with Alys' happily erstwhile husband in Bingtown.
The book also provided some interesting pieces of information about the world as it stands as well as its past
I will spare you the disappointment and tell you straight up that neither Fitz nor the Fool make any physical appearance in this story. However there are some signs of them - at times it's like they have passed by so recently you can still feel the stir of them in the air.
This book seems to me more of a set up for the finale than a story in itself. It was a bit of a disappointment, but it has definitely left me twitching with anticipation for the next book in the series, which is rumoured to be the final book of the Rainwild Chronicles.
The story is exactly what you would expect - Jane Austen with zombies in. It's definitely fun, and Seth has done a good job of fitting the unmentionable plague into the original without changing too much.
The narrator is what really makes the story. Her enthusiastic, gleeful and bloodthirsty way of reading the fight scenes and gross zombie descriptions is absolutely hilarious in her upperclass accent
I found John Glover's narration of Harry Dresden to be very out of character. His voice was not suitable for Harry at all. He did far better on the bit players like Morty and Sir Stuart.I really hope that this story gets reread by James Marsters at some point.
As for the story, it's not Jim's best but it's still a good story. I liked the mechanics of the ghost world, there were some great action scenes, some really funny moments (I loved, loved, loved the Star Trek scene) and poor Harry was tortured a bit with his inability to act, but he pulls through in the end :)
Overall I recommend getting the written version - I have the kindle and audiobook, and I feel the narrator detracts from the story.
This is my hands-down favourite book in the Vorkosiverse so far.
Miles continues the head first fall into adorable, militarised, obsessive love after tripping over Madame Ekaterin Vorsoisson in the novel Komarr. The Vorcrusty set are affronted by the attempts by one of Lord Ivan's ex-lady loves to claim a countship and some rather dirty and intriguing governmental and gender politics ensue. The delightful all-girl Team Koudelka is getting into everything, much to the dismay and bemusement of their parents, Lord Mark's balancing act on top of the pyramid that is the Black Gang teeters and Killer threatens to be loosed. The dinner party to shame all dinner parties erupts at Vorkosigan House and for once Miles does not delight in the melodrama. As Emperor Gregor sits back and watches what happens, the sparks struck at the dinner party hit the tinder that is the disgruntled Vorcrusty and the threat of potential civil war looms over two of the most important decisions the Council of Counts has faced since before the the Butcher of Komarr became Regent, and it may actually fall to That Idiot Ivan to save the day. (Yes, Ivan is forced to stop hiding his light, and it glows like Vorkosigan Vashnoi at night. It's fantastic.)
This book is hysterically funny, melodramatic and heartwarming, as always LMB's characters are fully fleshed and incredibly lovable despite their foibles and flaws, and the different story lines twine together like the cords of a fuse, encountering ordinance simultaneously for exponential explosions of riotous action, cringeworthy humiliation and hilarity.
I have listened to this book about five times over the past year, it is my go when I need a laugh or want to feel some lovely warm, fuzzy feelings. If this is not enough to adequately express my love and adoration for this story, let me say this: the love I feel for this story is equal to or greater than the love I would feel for a fuzzy grey puppy with big floppy ears, an unusual attachment to polka-dots, a tendency to lick your toes if you sit still and happen to leave your feet within 8 centimetres of the ground, the name of Ivan, and a habit of greeting you with ecstatically squirming enthusiasm if you are ever out of sight for more than five minutes.
I read this series when I was in my early 20s, and I absolutely adored it. It's quite funny and the characters are distinct, memorable and lovable. Even the criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl at this half way point in his character development is very likeable. Watching Artemis grow up and expand his horizons throughout this series has been a very fun ride.
The narrator was a delight, but the story suffers very much from the abridgement. It was choppy and didn't quite scan. If you can get the full unabridged audio I recommend strongly that you do so. At the time of writing this review however it seems the full audio version isn't available.
I think it's work buying a hard copy if necessary to get the full story. It's a comfortable size to tuck away in your backpack or mum's handbag (or your handbag XD) and it's available pretty cheaply from KMart and other department stores.
Miles Vorkosigan casts a very long shadow. I've always liked Ivan, but in previous novels he has never really been given a chance to shine (except for A Civil Campaign, he was brilliant in that). Usually he is just chugging along, doing his 9-5 job (exceptionally well) and flirting with women, until Miles comes barging into his life and drags Ivan along in the wake of his craziness.
This time, Ivan gets dragged from his day-to-day existence and into the crazy again, but instead of Miles it's Byerly Vorrutyer doing the dragging. As poor By is in over his head, however, Ivan is forced to be proactive instead of cruising along in another's wake.
Taj is a bit of a kindred spirit. She was literally the normal, genetically speaking, among her numerous gene-enhanced and talented siblings. She like Ivan was overshadowed by the rest of her family, even though she is quite clever and talented in her own right. Her entire family is rumored to have been killed by a rival Jacksonian house and she and her odd-sister Rish are on the run from bounty hunters.
Ivan rather gallantly marries Taj to save her from deportation, suicide and or bounty hunters (which may sound overly dramatic, but the author had to get Ivan to marry somehow!), which sets off a chain reaction involving Jacksonian contracts, snake wrangling, family politics, Alys being her subtly manipulative self, an ill-advised bet, people smugglers, rumoured Cetagandan treasure, and a gradual sweet romance between Ivan and Taj.
Some of my other favourite bit-players get a chance to shine as well - the back and forth between Ivan and By was fantastic, and Simon Ilyan has a substantial role in his quiet way. Ivan and Taj had some interesting perspectives on some of my other favourites like Simon Ilyan, Alys Vorpatril, Emperor Gregor and of course Miles, which I really enjoyed as it let me see them from another point of view. Cordelia and Aral unfortunately didn't get any screen time, though Ivan does spend some time musing on them (as he does with everyone else) - if you've read Cryoburn you'll know why I'm disappointed.
About the performance, I am not a fan of Grover Gardner's voice. There were places where his acting was a bit off, I don't think his voice suited Ivan's at all and there was very little distinction between some characters. I've given him a 3 because he did a decent job and I still managed to enjoy the book.
I suggest that you read A Civil Campaign before reading Captain Vorpatril's Alliance - not only is A Civil Campaign awesome, but it sets up Alliance very well, and there are events in A Civil Campaign (concerning Byerly and Donno Vorrutyer, hint hint) that will be spoiled if you don't read it first
I have no background in psychology. The highest level of scientific study I've done was Grade 12 Chemistry, Biology and Maths B, and that was almost ten years ago.
Nevertheless I found this incredibly easy to understand. It was extremely interesting, and the narrator was very engaging.
I have some issues with production, often they would repeat 30 seconds or a minute of narration.
I understand the complaint someone made about this being superficial, but is only meant to be an introductory guide, and I think it sets out to do that very well. It has in fact whet my appetite for more, and I intend to do some more detailed study into some areas raised by the book.
The book was quite funny and interesting to begin with - I kept picturing certain other sci-fi characters in the places of the command team ;) - but it got weirdly serious about half way through and there were about two hours in which I lost interest almost completely. Considering it's only 7.5 hours long (6 discounting the codas) this is a serious flaw. It does pick up again towards the end of the main story though.
The characters are a bit one-dimensional. I know they're supposed to be Redshirts, and one of the main characteristics of Redshirts is their lack of character, but it makes it difficult to care too much about any of them.
Wil Wheaton is an interesting person and I understand why he was used for this book given his history, but he is only an average narrator.
X said, Y said, X asked, Y said, Z said, it said. God, I don't know if it's the way Wheaton said "said" in exactly the same tone every single time, or if Mr Scalzi just really overused the word, but I found it to be very invasive.
Don't give up on the third coda, if you make it that far. It's overly dramatic and soppy, but there's a payoff at the end.
and the waiting is killing me :(
Brandon Sanderson is doing an incredible job. There is a notable difference between his style and that of Robert Jordan, but it can't be helped and at times it's actually a strength. He puts in plenty of reminders to jog our memories of past important events that may have become a bit lost in the sheer volume of words. He takes us back to the character's roots and reminds us of how far they've come. He is somewhat prone to writing heroic and over-emotive speeches, though, and Michael Kramer proclaims them with great conviction.
I adore how he writes Nynaeve. She is clearly one of his favourites.
The prophecy at the end sent shivers down my spine. I am so very worried about Perrin right now. It's insane how invested I've become in these characters.
I imagine those gathered for the Final Battle feel a bit like I do just now. The end is so near, but time seems to be standing still.
This book was quite good in and of itself, but what I liked most about it was the different perspective it gave me on the main series.
I listened to this just after finishing Towers of Midnight & wanting to fill the void while awaiting A Memory of Light.
I loved seeing Moiraine and Siuan as Accepted and very young Sisters. It hurt to see Lan so lost even though I knew things would work out for him (well, they have so far. Time and AMOL will tell). The betrayals of the Black Ajah in the main series cut even deeper after seeing how close the Novices and Accepted usually are (as Elayne, Nynaeve and Egwene have always stood apart from the others in the Tower the betrayal doesn't cut them anywhere near as deep). Also seeing how the "normal" Aes Sedai had their beginnings emphasised just how remarkable N, E & E really are.
Hint - if you haven't quite finished the existing books yet, read this before Towers of Midnight. It will really whet your appetite for the Towers of Ghenjei shenanigans (if you know what that means, you know enough not to be spoilered by the reference).
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