I'm going to review the entire Austrailian Trilogy here because the storyline continues throughout the three books, and the first two end in cliff hangers, making it impossible to stop after either of them. Nevertheless, the writing style and tone changes quite a bit from the first to the third and, unfortunately, goes downhill.
The Potato Factory is wonderful. It is very Dickensian, and although I don't really like the grittiness of Dickens, I loved the story and characters Courtenay creates. Tommo and Hawk starts out very character driven as well, but gets bogged down in endless descriptions of the Maori struggles. It also contains several cringe-inducing sex scenes, which are made all the more embarrassing by Humphrey Bower's explicit narration (leaving no moan or groan to the imagination). I was mortified when my son walked into the room to see what was going on. And, then comes Solomon's Song, which can only be explained by an assumption that Courtenay was worn out. I know it wore me out. Hours were devoted to details of battle tactics at Gallipoli and later France, including readings of very long letters to and from the front. Although dozens of new characters were introduced, for the most part they were merely vehicles to get across the author's views on the horrors of war. I was eager for the book to end, but then the conclsion was so abrubt and unsatisfying, I spent the rest of the evening annoyed.
I'm giving the trilogy a 4 because the Potato Factory was so excellent and Tommo and Hawk quite good. Also, notwithstanding Bower's sex-scene renderings, his narration was great.
I agree with other reviewers that the story started out strong and then went downhill, but it still kept me engaged. I expect the series will get stronger as it goes along. I did not like Suzanne Toren as the narrator - her voice for Troy was tolerable, but for the other female characters is was downright jarring. I'm glad she's not reading the next one.
I've never read any Goddard books before, but I will definitely put them on my wish list. This is a fun, well-written, historical thriller. Sort of Dickens, Bronte, and du Maurier combined. Michael Kitchen's narration was fantastic.
The one thing I hate most in books and movies is gratuitous torture. I'm OK with run of the mill violence, but long descriptions of pulling out teeth, smashing hands on anvils, burning, and castration - just not for me. Given that, I'm not sure why I chose to listen to a series in which one of the main characters is a torturer, and from the very beginning, I knew that Abercrombie was not going to hold back anything. But, listen I did, and I got hooked on the characters, including the torturer. They are complex and funny and sad and it's hard not to get attached to even the worst of them.
Like some of the other reviewers, I think the ending was disappointing. I was ready for things to be left unresolved, but I don't think it was necessary to leave us in such a dark place.
I'm done with Abercrombie for now. While he's arguably the best fantasy writer out there, I can't get myself psyched for more gore and torture.
I have not listened to other Pacey books, but I will definitely look for him now. He's great.
No, I can only take so much gore in one sitting.
Ken Follett knows how to tell a good story, but the characters are stock and there's nothing really surprising about what happens. While his books are a good way to learn history, Follett spends way too much time explaining things that are obvious to anyone above 3rd grade. And, his sex scenes are adolescent and cringe-inducing (come on Ken, the word "ejaculation" should never be used except in a sex-ed textbook). But, I managed to get through this book and the one before it, and I might even listen to the third when it comes out. They are embarrassingly addictive.
Almost anyone. Surprisingly, her female voices were much worse than the male ones. I turned it off about a quarter way through and bought the Kindle version. It's a very good book.
Read the book yourself unless Audible decides to re-record this one with a different narrator based on the reviews.
Although this novel provides fascinating background on the beginning of official apartheid in South Africa, it is first and foremost a murder mystery with great character development and storytelling. I was worried it would be preachy or depressing, but it's not. Definitely worth a listen.
I'm generally a patient reader (or listener) but I've stopped and restarted this book three times and still have only made it half way. It's more of an allegory than a novel, and forgoes real character development in favor of stock characters (the unloving father, the beautiful maiden, the tavern wench, the ink-stained student, the brash city guards) who fit into the author's morality tale. There's nothing subtle about the story and I just don't care anymore about the protagonist's lapse into cowardice and his (I assume) eventual redemption. Boring, boring, boring.
Lovely writing and an interesting premise are eclipsed by hours of tedium. The romance is so overwrought and immature -- in a Twilight-y, not Harry Potter-y, way -- that I barely made it to the end. I mean hours upon hours of aching and yearning and descriptions of beauty so pure it burns your soul. The only reason I stuck with it was to learn what happens to the few interesting characters introduced near the beginning of the book. And, even though I didn't get my answers, nothing will make me listen to the second book in the series. NOTHING! Hvam's narration fits perfectly with the strained prose.
This could have been a decent story, but ended up being a teen romance with fairies instead of vampires. Lots of angst about fitting in interspersed with stupid dialog and stupider quips. The silly protaganist gets herself in all sorts of scrapes, getting shot, knifed, almost drowned, etc., but you know she'll emerge stronger than ever. The worst part, however, is the narration. It is just so wrong.
The story was funny without being flip, and the writing excellent. But, best of all was Harris' narration. Sometimes when I'm listening to a book I wonder whether the author intended a particular pronunciation or emphasis. Here, we don't have to guess. I wish there were more Harris books to listen to.
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