I am thoroughly impressed with these works. I am generally hard to please, as a reader, as there are far too many wannabe authors in the world who think they are good writers. Jim Butcher is an excellent writer and a brilliant story teller. These books get better and better which each in the series. I literally could not put them down and listened to all of them back to back, every chance I had - and the finale is due out November of 2009.
Tavi, the protagonist, is a great "fool" who stumbles his way into a very archetypal hero's journey, and manages to arise victorious through cunning, wisdom and intelligence, not magical powers.
Is this a children's book/series? No way. Very graphic violence, and adult situations (not pornographic though).
If you want the true experience of Tolkein's genius, you need to read the Silmarillion, not the Lord of the Rings. This is an expansion of one of the tales from the Silmarillion, which deals with the great tragedies of Middle Earth eons before LOTR, and the epic battles between the stranded races of Humans, Elves and Dwarves with Morgoth/Lucifer. If you love true literature, not just modern trash, then this will bring great joy. Those who found this book difficult, need to read the Silmarillion, as you cannot possibly understand what is happening in the "Children of Hurin" without it. Highly Recommended.
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