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.
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.
Martin's first 3 books in this series were crisply written and well edited and I loved them. But something bad happened with IV and V. Unlike other reviewers, I didn't mind the change in narrators for book IV, but the story was disappointing because it focused on minor characters. Therefore, I was really looking forward to getting back to the main characters in this book. The editors seem to have thrown in the towel, however, and the writing is repetitive and bloated. Some scenes from book IV appear almost verbatim here and the same turns of phrase are used over and over, from laziness as opposed to literary device I think. And, although I'm not generally squeamish about language, the excessive use of the two "c" words became laughable by the end. Someone was constantly threatening to cut off one "c" and do equally guesome things to the other. Ew. Finally, I'm not sure why Roy Dotrice changed the voices of some of the characters but it wasn't for the better. Even little Aria sounds like an old lady.
I liked the first book in the series, but found the protaganist to be annoying in a Nancy Drew kind of way. Her connection to the crime and people she was "investigating" was so tenuous that everything she did could only constitute meddling. This second book uses exactly the same formula, but the connection between the investigator and crime is even more far fetched. Indeed, she jets (alright -- motorcars or trains) all over England and France to meddle in strangers' affairs based on a chance glimpse of a distraught woman on train platform. I will not bother with another Bess Crawford book unless the author gives her a real reason to be involved in solving the mystery.
Great combination of manners and murder. I can't wait for the next in the series. Wanda McCaddon is a very good narrator, though her children's voices are irritating. If there were more kids in the book, I don't think I'd be able to listen.
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