Don't want to get spoilery so I'll just say that I loved the narrator and thought the coming of age story was interesting, but the plot was not very satisfying. I guess I was hoping there was something more interesting going on than the actual story. The reader is amazingly good, I'm not a native but the accents seemed spot on and shifted over time as the characters changed. Still recommend it as a listen.
I liked Joes First Law books and this one was decent but once I was firmly into the story I lost interest. It became apparent that this was a try to stretch the low fantasy genera towards a western theme, with a new frontier, restless natives, caravans of settlers, wide open spaces and various dastardly villains and somewhat dastardly heroes.
But there was still something kind of British about the approach to this very traditionally American genera that I suppose was origonal but made it seem like it was written by someone who had read about or heard second hand about the American west but not been there.
Maybe I am just not interested in westerns but this did not hold my attention though it was somewhat memorable.
I listened to this because it was included on several lists of the best sci-fi of all time. The world building was amazing, consistent and interesting space-opera setup.
The main character was pretty interesting too, at least at the start getting into all sorts of scrapes and meeting interesting people (and killing them).
The problems kicked in about half way through. The super-proficient cyborg mutant killer suddenly becomes plot-blind to EVERYTHING. I was thinking he might die by peeing in the fusion drive because his brain fell out. And then a suuuuuper forced plot point involving a pregnancy that I think was supposed to make the characters seem more likeable but just made them seem like simpering idiots all of a sudden. Every chance to let the antagonists continue to be antagonists it taken gleefully. Every chance for the antihero to make terrible choices is also taken. Oh, and the primary driving question for our antihero (why does he work for who he does, and is he right to do so) is dealt with vaguely and unrealistically until a postscript that basically says "Oh yeah, the right answer to that complex moral question was X because it was not actually complex I was just wasting your time".
I don't know the rest of the authors work but based on this book I would say he can make a kick-ass worlds but can't plot/character his way out of a wet sack.
I liked this but it has the positives and negatives of most of Gaimans work. The mythology is interesting and the childs point of view effective but the characters have a strange sort of autistic feel similar to his other books. It's not that they don't have feelings, it's just that they feel more like animatroinc puppets than people.
But that should not dissuade you unless you are new to Gaiman, if you are then you should read American Gods (the full cast recording) first as that is stronger and more fresh than this book.
This book made me feel funny. Like I was being pandered to as a demographic but enjoying the pandering none the less. I guess it is possible it was a study in niche marketing wherein a lot of my youthful nostalgia as a Commodore 64 owning, D&D playing, Rush listening atheist was precisely targeted like one of those magazines that your grandma got that just talked about how things were back in the good ol' days. I'm going to assume that is not the case and the author just REALLY loves old nerdy stuff.
And this book has it. If you are old enough to start going bald but young enough to wear cargo shorts there is probably something in here to be nostalgic about. A younger person might just be bored/confused though.
The story is decent, post apocalyptic virtual mcguffin hunt vs. evil slave-owning megacorp. Characters are varied despite all having a baffling obsession with the 80s as the peak of human experience. A few are pretty flat, the Gandalf stand in notably though weather that is a matter of narration, characterization or lack of screen time I dunno.
Some of the negative happenings that establish the bad guys badness lead the protagonist and others to have an almost ausbergian lack of emotional response but I think that may be a choice of tone and trying to keep things moving forward. In general the protagonists geek guy exemplar is quite believable although frustratingly shallow at points.
Narration was pretty good. Wills range is not up to some of the real heavy hitter readers but he obviously fit the subject matter perfectly and at least for the younger characters got the nuance right.
Still not sure how I feel about it. Guess I shouldn't worry.
This book was not terrible but it seemed like it was written by/for IT professionals (and I am one). The tech is deeply fetishised, sometimes this is interesting like when discussing hacking etc in a semi-realistic way but other times it is just name-dropping brand names of watches and cars. I think I learned more about the characters accessories than their feelings. It holds together mostly on a smaller scale but as the plot widens it goes off the rails a bit in believability and in the characters ability to carry it.
Oh, and there are two girls in it that I can recall, one is a bitch and the other is a two dimensional love interest who gets rescued despite at least giving her an interesting job.
I dunno, maybe I expected a good sci-fi novel and got a 'techo-thriller' instead.
Both of Pats books are amazing, transcending the genera to create something that has more than earned much praise. But if you are thinking about listening to this then you have already read Name of the Wind and know that.
It's not perfect, main issue is pacing. If it was a graph there would be big spikes of action with long troughs of slow meandering inbetween. Sometimes we get minute detail about long stretches of backstory, world building and training montage, other times huge events go by in a few pages or even happen off-screen. The good bits though, they are very very good.
I read the first book on paper and listened to the audiobook as well and found that the audiobook glossed over some of the the most choice turns of phrase. The speaker seems young, and so is Kvothe of course but this lends an unfortunate modern cadence to the speech. Someone old and gravely would lend it a more touching, heartfelt gravitas in keeping with the writing I think.
I picked up this audiobook to re-read the tNotW in prep for the new book coming out and was somewhat disappointed in the narration, not in terms of quality but in that I felt the style was younger and more modern than the voice in my head. But the book is so good, I still listened to the whole thing and would not hesitate to suggest the book in any format, even to people (like my wife) who are not fantasy fans otherwise. She loved it btw and all her friends are now fans as well.
This is a long, convoluted story spanning a large cast of characters and many worlds but it still manages to keep me sitting in my car after my commute completely enthralled. The Sci-Fi feels very plausible and the author seems to really understand how technology changes society. The reader does a great job, occasionally slipping up on an accent or doubling up several characters with the same voice but given the huge cast and great length that's not surprising.
I never take the time to review the books I listen to off audible unless they are terrible or amazing, this one is amazing. There are other decent reviews of the plot, similar authors etc. so I will just hit two points:
1. The narration is excellent, it is saying something when a deep voiced man can accurately portray a female character with nuance and feeling and bring tears to my hard heart.
2. The massive detail and interesting footnotes make for a long book and for 80% of it's progress one is left interested but not knowing what it is all about. I consider this more of an asset than a defect but if you need everything spelled out for you and good and bad guys assigned clearly it may be frustraiting. It is not ADD friendly, it reads like it was written by someone who loves to read intricate books not someone who wanted a simple plot so it would make a easy screenplay (tho it is being made into a film anyway). As a result if you do not get past that 80% mark you are missing out on a real gem.
In closing this was an excellent listen, if you like the fantasy work of Ursula K. LeGuin (the books, not the worthless tv show) chances are you will love it.
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