Gretna, LA, USA | Member Since 2006
Terry Brooks is one of those writers that's strongly influenced fantasy writing, and also our expectations for what such writing should bring to its readers and listeners.
Granted. We all can agree on that. We can all also agree that on occasion, certain of his works stand out from the others, while some step back into the shadows of his better works. Granted again. All in all, though, each one of the Shannara novels is a VERY enjoyable and rewarding read.
Now, here's where I rant, but not in a bad way. You see, believe it or not, the ENTIRE series, as a whole, could be considered complete. Oh, but no. Not according to Brooks, who has, over the past few years, written a whole series of prequels, then a series of PRE-prequels, as well as other lines of books that start along the Shannara timeline, and then branch out, combining both new and old characters, blending new and old magics, and both twisting and strengthening the story lines.
Now, this isn't a bad thing. Just don't get settled. Don't think it's over, because obviously, in Brooks' Shannara universe, you never really know. And guess what?
He's done it again.
In this first book in the Dark Legacy Series, his latest efforts in the highly popular Shannara realm, New York Times bestselling author Terry Brooks has decided return to one of the most exciting eras in that series, and in doing so, presents two of his very obvious traits, starting with page one.
First, this novel shows Brooks' well-known bent for setting up a glorious quest, which may seem a bit formulaic to many of his fans. Let's understand that Brooks tends to paint on a large canvas, one that requires much room to live up to the author's, and your, expectations. He does this in Wards Of Faerie with initially modest, then broad literary strokes. Now, when Brooks does this, you can count on the second obvious trait.
It's going to get good. Really, really, really really good. And it DOES.
One hundred years after Brooks' High Druid novel, Straken, which ended with a discovered diary possibly pointing the way to the lost elfstones, we are introduced to new generations of the major players in the Shannara series. We're also treated with the twisted plans and plots that are rife in both the elven kingdom, where magic is fading, and the human-led federation, where technology and science seem to be gaining a questionable foothold.
So, the obvious question: Is this one of Brooks' Shannara novels that stands apart, or hides a bit in the shadows?
This one definitely stands apart, and then some. Brooks' writing style is on the mark, and pulls us in immediately with engaging, descriptive emotional writing that is, at the same time, not too heavy-handed. It was a pleasure to both read, and then listen to this work, and as usual, Brooks surprised me along the way with shifting plots and surprising directions. I just used an Audible credit to get the second novel in the series. And loved it. Read my review for more details on that worthy second tome in the series.
As usual, I will NOT give hints, spoilers, plots, or anything else to take away from the wondrous literary ride this new series offers to you, Audible listener. No whining.
If you want some of Brooks' best writing in the Shannara series, look no further.
This is, simply put, a triumph.
Once again, I take a shot in the dark, and this time, it's a win.
And for a fact, it's NOT because of Audible's description of the work. That description covers the first five minutes of the audiobook.
Think other dimensions, time dilation, neural AI mind entropy, rogue robots, nuclear fallout, new world order, suspended animation, and MUCH more.
Simpson delivers a well-written, smartly-paced and rich story, replete with rich character development, excitement, and tech-savvy future-tense believability. It beautifully sets the pace for the other novels in the series.
And, by the way, it just happens to be a great listen.
Lately, there's been a definite lack of truly noteworthy scifi/fantasy audiobooks offered here at Audible. I don't blame Audible for the lack of excellent work. There are great novels out there that are just beginning to be recorded to audiobook format, and it takes time.
So, this was a pleasant surprise, and I'm extremely glad I stumbled into it - So much so, that I'm securing the remaining novels in the series.
So, crack open that wallet, pull out that dusty credit, dear Audible listener, and put this enjoyable listen in your library.
If you follow my reviews, especially for Salvatore’s Drizzt novels, you know that I rarely, if ever, provide plot points or spoilers, as I feel they take away from the listening experience. In this case, however, it’s important to place this audiobook in respect to Salvatore’s previous rich and noteworthy Drizzt novels.
This first of four novels in this series occurs after Drizzt’s exploits in the Icewind Dale trilogy. This solidly-written Turtledove novel confronts the consequences stemming from Drizzt’s sister and her dark elven disciples that ascend from the Underdark. Their plot to seize him, and then sacrifice him to Lolth, the Spider Queen Goddess, is only the very beginning of where these four novels will take you, dear Audible listener.
MAJOR events occur in this first of the four Legacy novels. Surprising ones, at that. VERY unexpected turns of events. What you THOUGHT you knew from the previous novels isn’t necessarily the case. Strap in, and get ready for a great ride.
As to Salvatore’s writing style, this work is a less “by the numbers” storyline than his previous Drizzt novels. That by no means takes anything away from those earlier strong efforts – They were groundbreaking works in fantasy that further defined the genre. This work, however, truly stands apart, and it makes for a great listen. It’s a cut above, and it shows.
Rivalries escalate. Characters take an growing prominence, and hint at further storylines in subsequent novels. Strong plots lines and events launch herein, so I have to stop here.
A final note: Victor Bevine does a solid job of narration, and definitely adds to the work.
If you’re a fan of the Drizzt series, this first of the Legacy of the Drow is simply put, a “must read.”
At last, Audible has published the third audiobook in the Gentlemen Bastard series, "The Republic of Thieves." It was with keen anticipation that I acquired this audiobook, because unlike many other audiobooks I've listened to, I did NOT read the novel in advance. I was determined to make this a "fresh listen," with no prior experience of the work whatsoever.
Why did I do this? Think Christmas.
Listening to each of Lynch's prior works in the series has been astounding. Each unique. Each a must read, or in this case, a must listen. Read my previous reviews on those audiobooks. You'll get the idea.
Okay, so on to Christmas.
Each of tLynch's works in this series were like a Christmas gift. An unexpected, beautifully-wrapped, rich, textured treat I devoured, and frankly couldn't put down until I finished. Fantastic writing? TONS. Wonderfully-written characters and dialogue that actually make sense? Even MORE. Wait! What's this? Well-thought plots and story lines in abundance, for God's sake! Both were grand listens of fantasy, intrigue, plots within plots, action, twists and turns, and much more.
Christmas. Each audiobook was as if it was a gift straight from Lynch to me.
So, I made sure to steer clear of any advance hardback book of this work, or any online advance reading. I really wanted to enjoy this new gift when I opened it.
Was it worth the wait to open this gift?
Yet again, Lynch gives me an early Christmas present! It was definitely worth the wait. This third in the series carries on grandly, tying in the past two works with this, and it did not disappoint. You already know that I don't give spoilers, nor do I sneak in plot lines. Audiobook reviews can be a veritable minefield, ruining the author's hard work and your initial listening experience by becoming a reader's digest version of the listen instead of a review. A review should only tell you the writer's OPINION of the work. Having said this, please take note of my rating for this audiobook. As I've said before, excellent audiobooks earn good ratings, and this is no exception. I am brutal on lesser works, and if you seen my previous reviews, know this.
So, this is one gift that should stay wrapped until YOU unwrap it. No hints. No peeks. No shaking of the box.
With that in mind, will you put a little trust in me when I say that this is one fantastic listen, without giving away anything? I hope so, because both the author and narrator have done their very best in this third of the series, and I do NOT say this lightly. This will no doubt infuriate some readers of this review. To those wonderful people, I say that there are countless reviewers who will give you everything you want, and ruin the audiobook for you. Again, I simply ask for a small amount of trust.
If you do, you'll be glad you opened this gift yourself.
We're almost done here... A final word, if I may...If you've not read the first two books in the series, read my reviews on them, and start with those two audiobooks prior to acquiring this one. I consider them required reading for any fantasy fan.
I'll keep this short and to the point.
This new dramatic audio rendition of Ender's Game is one of many audio versions of this classic scifi novel. In fact, there's already a another dramatic rendition. Multiple voices. A bit of music.
So, is this a good audio buy?
It depends on if you plan to see the movie.
If you plan to go see the movie, and haven't read the series? NO. Listen to the FULL NON-DRAMATIC version first, as this is somewhat abbreviated, misses the nuances of the author's writing, which add SO MUCH to the experience. THEN go see the movie, Very few movies can do full justice to a great novel. And Ender's Game is fantastic. However good the movie is, the dry version will be a better listening experience.
So, full dry audiobook, then the movie.
If you don't plan to listen to the full dry audiobook version, and want to go see the movie, then I recommend the movie first, and THEN you can decide which flavor you want. Dry versus dramatic with multiple voice actors.
This is very good, but at the end of the day, it's Ender's Game on training wheels.
The choice is yours.
Of all the scifi/fantasy audiobook genre to be found, one of my favorites is the superhero genre. Of course, it's nothing new - The greeks were all over this eons ago, and the story of Hercules is the penultimate hero, perhaps the culmination, of the genre' in its earliest era.
In this first of his "Reckoners" series, Brandon Sanderson has, as usual, moved into a fantastic departure from the typical. In this universe he's penned, the villains reign supreme, and the old adage "Ultimate power corrupts ultimately" is the norm. There are no superheroes, per se, as the various powers these unique individuals, or "epics," have acquired acquired so suddenly and completely have removed all moral boundaries and ethical limitations. The moral compass has been totally removed from the equation, and brutality rules supreme.
The epic in question, Steelheart, is a juggernaut that has little or no limits to his reign of terror. To him, the futile attempts of the government, rebels and even other epics to destroy him are not even a consideration. He is Hercules without conscience, and to him, we are afterthoughts, mere distractions compared his all-encompasing power and plans.
So, then, you ask, where is the story in all this?
This is a story of revenge, of desperation, of anger. It seems that this Hercules has an Achille's heel, a weakness that one ordinary man has quietly discovered, and is driven to both expose and deliver an end to this epic's reign of terror. This audiobook delivers plans within plans, a rich world with characters with varying motivations, and all at a strong pace, told by Sanderson in his always engaging and very entertaining writing. It's action from the very prologue through the ending of this first Reckoners novel. The narrator, Mr. Andrews, is strong, and worthy of the work.
Single words to describe this audiobook? How about: Engaging, Powerful, Entertaining to name a few?
For those of you who follow my reviews, look at my rating for this audiobook. It's HIGH, and it's EARNED it. It's quite rare for a novel to get this high of a rating from me - I'm BRUTAL in this regard, so when it DOES happen, you can be sure the work is well worth the listen.
And this audiobook is EXACTLY that.
If you enjoy Sanderson's body of writing, you're as excited as I am to see him dive head-first into this genre, and look forward with keen anticipation to the very next novel in the series.
Don't hesitate on this one - This is a "must buy" recommendation for your hard-earned Audible credit.
This will be quick and to the point.
If you like rich fantasy, as I do, you'll want to listen to the "Riyria Revelations" trilogy by Michael J. Sullivan. When you do, you're in for hours of incredibly rich and rewarding listening that you'll re-visit long after the first listen. But, not just yet.
This isn't about THAT series...Well, in a way, it is.
Before you move to that fantastic trilogy, start HERE, with this prequel to the series. If you don't, you're truly missing out on an incredible listening ride worth your hard-earned Audible credit.
Why start here? Easy.
Conceived and written after the trilogy was published, the author was urged by his wife to do a series of short stories that further establish and solidify what you'll read in the awesome "Revelations" trilogy. Sullivan takes an already well-written series, and uses the opportunity to set multiple stages for what's ahead. And THAT makes the trilogy an even more enjoyable listen, once you get there.
Herein you'll find a EXTENSIVE world created and enriched to satisfy any listening appetite ready for adventure, depth, storyline, mystery, intrigue, shadowy secrets, plans within plans, detailed characters and VERY good dialogue...and here's the best part: All of it is well written, and a pleasure to experience. And the narrator, Tim Reynolds, does a respectable job to bring the characters to life!
Again, as usual, ZERO plot secrets, spoilers or giveaways - That's cheating YOU, dear Audible listener, out of the fun of enjoying Sullivan's journey for the first time, with all of the surprises, captivation and enjoyment he originally intended for you to experience.
You want shallow, boring writing, steer clear. Otherwise, you should dip your toe into Sullivan's waters with this awesome prequel, and if you do, I'm betting that you'll dive headfirst the Revelations trilogy.
Just like I did. And by the way, the water's fine!
Lately there have been a menage of literary genre crossovers, such as vampire-heroes, steampunk-aliens, and fantasy detectives. Tragically, many of them are shallow, at best, and frankly are Audible credit wasters. The initial concept may have validation, but either the overall delivery is tepid, or the author gets lost in the created genre, and writes a confusing, three hundred page diatribe explaining the new genre, and the work loses its audience. Hence, many are epic failures.
Not so in "The Bone Season," I'm glad to write.
Here you have a future, fantasy and dystopian mix that never falls short, that sweeps you along, and one audio listen that I heartily recommend.
Okay, I'll quote Audible's description, because if I DON'T, I'm definitely going to give away some very important plot lines that you deserve to discover in the listening of this fantastic audiobook. Here goes, and I quote:
"The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people's minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant, and in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing."
"It is raining the day her life changes forever."
I don't dare add to this - It's that good. This is one time when I WANT to do so. It's a delicious, juicy dystopian rush and romp you won't soon forget, and not want to put down. The heroine is complex and a joy to experience, the characters add wonderfully to the storylines' dynamic, the world created is rich and textured, and the storyline is both unusual and engaging. Overall, a wonderful listen.
This is a rare Audible listener's treat - It's Shannon's first work, and you can say you were there when it happened. In fact, I highly recommend that you listen to this wonderful first book in the series twice.
That's right. TWICE.
You'll better appreciate the author's rich world-building future-fantasy, and love it even more.
It's almost inconceivable that the 21-year-old Shannon wrote "The Bone Season" between classes at Oxford while an undergraduate at the respected university. But, remember, a number of authors have received inspiration from its hallowed halls and quasi-fantasy architecture. Authors such as Ballard, Pullman, and other well known authors have hailed from there, as well. C.S. Lewis and other famed authors have taught there. And that's just touching on the "fantasy" authors. So, she was educated in a hotbed of writing potential, and it obviously rubbed off quite well.
So well that she has a contract for seven books in the Bone series. Well done.
The one drawback to this triumph of a first novel is the narrator. Kerr's good at times, but a bit too lilting occasionally, and the accents tend to mix a bit. However, she doesn't cause a major distraction. Let's hope she improves over time.
This first effort by Shannon has "best-seller" written all over it. My sincere hope is that the seven books in the series fare as well.
I KNOW I'm going to take heat for this one. So, like a flu shot, let's get the darn thing over with, for God's sake.
Let's review, shall we? A writer with skills? Seems so. His storyline? The same. Just go read the Audible short on the work. Yet, there's an issue here. If you read or, in this case, listen, to a good number of books, you'll understand where I'm headed.
If you're a great writer, or even a GOOD one, you constantly strive for a few things in your writing. Suspension of disbelief is one. A moving and deep storyline is another. Rich characterization is important, as well.
Without REALISTIC, ENGAGING DIALOGUE between the characters, all of the potential of the work will fall short. We've all started to read or listen to such novels, and as soon as the characters open their mouths, it's over. The message suffers. The momentum is lost.
The book is closed, the audiobook returned.
And in this case, it's a shame. The problem happens here - In droves. I thought of including specific text, but it's not necessary. Is the audiobook bad? No. But the work suffers, due to the dialogue. It's a soap-operatic. Over the top. in some cases, WAY over the top.
A word to Mr. Barnes: "Do NOT get rushed by your editor to put your next effort out so quickly, that the character's dialogue suffers, as in this work. Take your time, and write great dialogue. I look forward to your next work with keen anticipation."
Audible listeners, I don't write these reviews to cater to anyone, especially myself. I have to be true to the job at hand, to let the audiobook stand on its own merits. Or fall.
Sorry, Mr. Barnes. Maybe next time.
Sometimes, no matter how you try, you can't get into an audiobook.
It can be the premise. In this case, I LOVE the premise.
Sometimes, it can be the delivery. In this case, Daniels is passable.
So, why did I have so much trouble with this audiobook, starting it over numerous times to make sure I was hearing it correctly, re-evaluating the plots and the "believability" of the work?
Let's figure this out by looking at what good writing does for the reader or listener.
Good writing takes us on a journey that must, by the very genre's nature, suspend disbelief. It's a requirement. This is done by more than interesting action sequences, which this work DOES have. It requires solid world-building combined with a believable lead character.
There are other important factors to successful writing, but on these two key factors, the work falls short. Romulus Buckle is too perfect, with no flaws that accompany a great story. As to the good sequences, they just don't come together as a WHOLE work of exceptional world-building. Tolerable, but not worthy of an Audible credit.
I keep these negative reviews short when I deliver them, because they should be short and to the point. It's my hope that Preston will step up his game in the future.
There are SO many other works that deserve your attention here at Audible, both fiction and non. Explore those instead.
If you're a fan of this series, you may already own this audiobook. If not, or if you're still deciding wether or not to slap those Audible credits on the counter, and get into this series, this third review is for you.
If you've read my previous reviews, you already KNOW my thoughts on this writer and his efforts. This review is going to basically say the same thing, with a few changes.
First, the characters, both existing and new have greater depth. The story now deals with faith and magic in a more intricate method, and are both stronger players in the tone and direction of the story. The storyline is richer, and takes even better advantage of the world Clines has already established. It's fantastic, and the author steps up his game in this third effort. The zombies are badder, the heroes are better, the villain steps up the game, and the conflicts make for great reads, or in this case, listens.
I'm not going to give away any plot points here, as you know. I HATE when a reviewer gives spoilers about the work they review. It's as if the reviewer dips into all that hard work, and steals a small (or sometimes large) part of the spotlight so richly deserved by the author. So, no spoilers.
But I WILL finish by telling you the following:
It's one thing for author to write one good work - It's an ENTIRELY different thing to write THREE subsequent works in a series surrounding a constant theme, and doing so beautifully time after time.
Clines has done this, over and over in this series. If you love the zombie, superhero or modern magic genres, you're going to be satisfied, from the first in the series, to this third in the series.
Personally, I'm thinking this is the best of the three. How often does THAT happen?
Go ahead. Say it. You know the answer. Not very often, if ever.
So, Clines topped the other two books by writing THIS book.
Thanks, Peter. I can't wait to see where you take the series from here.
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