I've been a fan of the Thomas Covenant series since the books first emerged some thirty years ago, so I'm sure anyone kind enough to actually care what I have to say here would need to take that into account as they read this.
My personal view is that anyone contemplating reading (or listening) to this book/audiobook should read the first two trilogies before embarking on this series. I say that even though Donaldson provides an outstanding summary of the first two trilogies at the beginning of "Runes," probably sufficient to get a new reader/listener up to speed. Still - you will miss a lot if you take that approach, even though Donaldson continues to provide background information as "Runes" unfolds.
I read "Runes" when it first came out a couple of years ago. Like most Donaldson books, I found myself rushing through the read to "see what happens next." I decided, before reading the second book in this series, "Fatal Revenant," which has just been published, to listen to (instead of re-reading) "Runes" because I was afraid I had missed a lot during that first, rushed reading. I definitely found that I absorbed more detail and therefore enjoyed the story much more than the first go round, and I'd therefore highly recommend the book-on-tape approach to anyone.
I'm not sure my comments will be helpful to a new reader of Donaldson's writing, but that being said, "Runes" is as good as anything from the second Covenant trilogy (which I personally consider a quantum improvement over the flawed but still entertaining first trilogy), and equal to the "Gap" series in terms of action and intrigue.
Definitely worthwhile for a long-time fan - probably worth a shot for a new and curious reader as well
Because I failed to copy and paste the review I just wrote for Part II of this book, I am now in the amusing situation of trying to recreate what I just wrote there. I suppose the fact that I went on to purchase and listen to Part II is a hearty endorsement of Part I - if you like Part I you certainly will be pleased with Part II.
In any case - I read Will Durant's "Story of Civilization" series years ago and enjoyed it because his dry wit and obvious intelligence made the material a pleasure to read. He also did a great job of providing context to events by discussing the art, culture, religion, and mores of the times, resulting in a deeper understanding of why some things happened the way that they did.
Durant used a similar approach to "The Story of Philosophy." You get the history of the times that each philosopher lived in, as well as some background biographical information, and thus you get a better understanding of why these people came up with some of the ideas that they did.
The reader does a fine job and the sound quality is excellent. Very worthwhile.
I read Durant's "Story of Civilization" series years ago and enjoyed his dry wit and intelligence, which permeated the entire set of books.
I found the same style at work in "The Story Of Philosophy." Also - Durant puts the musings of the philosophers' into historical context - providing the background information regarding the countries and times they lived in so that you get a better understanding of the events in progress that were precipitating the ideas in these people's minds.
The reader does a fine job and the sound quality is very good
Keep a good history book handy for reference (maybe the first two volumes of Will Durant's Story of Civilization), don't be concerned during the first few hours when Herodotus seems to go off on tangents, and trust that all of this ultimately comes together in entertaining and informative fashion. Also keep in mind that new research is beginning to show that the information Herodotus relates, though often fantastic, generally had kernels of truth. He clearly made a good faith effort to collect and relay what he considered honest and correct information.
Also be prepared for some pretty graphic material as the grandfatherly narrator with his professorial voice suddenly and matter-of-factly begins relating stories that sound more like something out of the Silence of the Lambs than a history book. Quite incongruous, but interesting.
I enjoyed this throughout, and my 16 year old son, who thought I was quite daft when he initially encountered me listening to this in the car, began to get intrigued himself as we got close to the events conveyed (somewhat incorrectly) in the movie "300."
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