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.
Star Wars... Starcraft... Halo... Mass Effect... Hitman... Resistance...
You know most of these franchises and their popularity. So, what do they have in common?
William C. Dietz.
Dietz is a "Go-To" writer for these franchises. The reason they flock to him is obvious, once you've read or heard his work. He creates worlds: Fantastic stories, characters with depth, descriptive page-turner writing, and good dialogue, all blended together to give you an enjoyable reading or listening experience. In effect, he can put franchises on the literary map.
So, do these accolades and high praises warrant your valuable Audible credit? Definitely.
In fact, regarding this audiobook, "Runner," Dietz does not disappoint - If anything, after reading this, you'll possibly want to go on a voyage of discovery regarding his other writing.
This story feels like a early classic Andre' Norton style novel, replete with failing technology spanning star systems, psychic sensitives, technobot zealots, waring religious factions, a failing fleet of sentient starships ferrying barbaric peoples back and forth across the galaxy, warring royal families, tek-tomb raiders uncovering lost star gate technology, chosen prophets, runners who brave passage on the failing starships for riches and power, and at the center of it all, a slumbering master computer arching across the starways, sought by all of the above.
Be warned - The plot will unfold a bit into the story, as Dietz sets the pace by providing richly defined characters, great back stories, and sub-plots leading to the master story line itself. The lead characters are so well defined, that you'll empathize with their successes and failures. Dietz's descriptive writing is dead-on, placing you right in the middle of a believable milieu, and at the end of the day, that's crucial in an exceptional audio work.
As to the narration, Runnette was a pleasure to listen to in this work, and brought it home.
I've enjoyed this audiobook, so much so, that I've gladly ponied up another cherished Audible credit for the second book in the the "Run" duology.
And frankly, I can't wait to start listening.
If you follow my reviews, and God knows why, you'll note that I love superhero audiobooks. This sterns from my love of comics as a young lad in uptown New Orleans. And I still enjoy them a bit - I even collected the four "Dark Knight Returns" graphic novels - First issues, too!
So, what's this rambling diatribe have to do with Sentinels?
I'm monologuing, thank you very much - A definite NO-NO for villains everywhere.
You see, this modest diamond in the rough audiobook has it all - Origin stories, great plot lines, dark mysteries, fantastic powers, epic edge-of-your-seat battles on earth and in space, secret bases, futuristic technology, strange alien agendas, nefarious backstabbers, heroes with weaknesses, and...
Villains that monologue. A LOT.
I so loved this listen, and everything jelled just right - Except for that, and the narrator. A bit campy on the villain's monologues, which did NOT help.
However, this is a great series that I will dive into. This is all about fun listening without a moral lesson or force-fed ethics. Just a great roller-coaster ride of an audiobook. So, I do recommend it for its very successful storytelling, despite these two flaws.
Now, if you're totally an Isaac Asimov or Greg Bear type of listener, who enjoys technical background descriptions and explanations, this may NOT be for you. But still, I DO recommend that you let your hair down and have a little bit of fun.
So, Mr. Plexico, I leave you with one important quote that will serve you well:
"He starts monologuing! He starts, like, this prepared speech about how feeble I am compared to him. How inevitable my defeat is, how the world will soon be his, yadda-yadda-yadda... Yammerin'! I mean, the guy has me on a platter, and he won't shut up!" - Frozone, The Incredibles Movie
Remember, less is more, Mr. Plexico. And have a talk with the narrator - Pull it back a notch. Or two.
And thanks for a great romp!
Most everyone's heard of the Dresden series...From books to the cable series, it's had a following for some time.
But wait, isn't this about the Alex Verus series? So what gives, here?
Well, I bring up the Dresden series, because if you like THAT series, I'm betting you'll like this one equally, as well. Maybe a bit more, as I do.
In a nutshell, both series are modern urban fantasies. Adventures/mysteries that throw in a taste of magic, good writing and maybe some humor to give the series wit and add to the work's momentum.
The Dresden series is good, mind you, but it never stuck completely with me. For whatever reason, I wasn't too excited about getting to the next audiobook in the series.
Benedict Jacka's Alex Verus series is somewhat similar, but is much more my style. Here's why I write this:
As much as I like Butcher and his work, this is simply better writing, with a stronger and superior magic system that's much more socially prevalent, if you will. It reads better. It's more of a "page turner" than Butcher's series, more detailed in certain aspects. Also, setting it in England seems to give the magic system more depth, perhaps more suspension of disbelief. The storyline is solid and makes sense, and the dialogue is spot on for what Jacka sets out to accomplish. Anyway, this definitely strikes a chord in me, and I liked this first in the series. MUCH more momentum, for me.
Now, let's remember, that at the end of the day, this isn't supposed to be socially relevant, nor is it a deep moral lesson. This is about enjoying a good story. The sheer fun.
And this was.
So, I recommend this work to those who seek the thrill, who want the fun, who want to enjoy the moment, for once. And maybe, if you like it as much as I do, twice, with the second book.
Enjoy the moment.
It's interesting how an author's work can strike a positive chord in some, and in others, a severe dissonance.
Think before you react on my statement. Consider a few of YOUR favorite authors - You love their work, while other people loathe them. Ultimately, it's about an author's words reaching out to YOU, where YOU live, and a literary connection is birthed, a relationship between inspired writing and your personal taste.
How does this diatribe regarding style and preference fit into this review?
In the case of this particular work of Ian Whates, this simple literary rule will predominate for both its listeners and readers, and here's why:
Descriptive expression is so important for successful fantasy or scifi writing, because you're asking the reader or listener to suspend disbelief, and journey into the author's work in good faith.
Mr.Whates excels in plot and character communication and interaction. However, while he has built a FASCINATING milieu, bursting with astounding potential, the descriptive necessities of the world he's created could be more detailed. Despite this weakness, this is out of the box creativity personified - The potential here for great storytelling is superb, to say the very least.
That being established, if you enjoy urban fantasy, with a mixture of originality, steampunk, magic, intrigue, and interesting dialogue, you'll enjoy this audiobook, as I did, and you'll forgive the less descriptive narration. However, if you like rich, deep, lengthy descriptions of the author's literary world he or she has created, a solid focus on setting the milieu, such as Jordan does in his "Wheel Of Time" series, you may NOT fully enjoy this author's first work in the series.
As to why I like this work, it's very original on a number of levels, and if followed through appropriately by Whates, it has the tremendous potential to become a fantastic launchpad for future works. All this being said, though, his lack of better description of even simple things pulled my ratings back on this work.
It's a good solid beginning, and while I enjoyed the ride a lot, the milieu descriptives, so important to suspend disbelief, were thin. Shallow at times. So, despite the lack of stronger descriptive writing, the other wonderful strengths in this work has made it enjoyable for me, thrusting wind into the author's literary sails of this work. I truly enjoyed it, I'll overlook this descriptive thinness, and I'll acquire the next in the series.
Will it do so for you? I have to say that it's going to be about individual preference on this one.
Here's hoping this audiobook fills YOUR sails ...
So, after nine books, what more can be said about Larson's ninth book in the Star Force series, The Dead Sun?
DEAD. SPOT. ON. That's what.
When a series gets this long in the tooth, the writer has earned his or her place, and the work is built upon the author's previous tomes in the series. IF the author is smart, they give their readers what they want. Larson does this in a major way in The Dead Sun.
But Larson has always done that in the Star Force series.
He drags me onto the battlefield, where blood and steel join in the exploding heat of combat. He slips me behind enemy lines into the heart of the enemy conflict, and shoves me into the shadows, watching as politicians and generals coldly set the fate of countless warriors ready to sacrifice their lives for sometimes blurred and shallow causes. Larson builds worlds, and sets the pace, tempo and rhythm of this stirring march into this incredible military scifi that is Star Force.
So, when I read or listen to Larson's work, I can't accept the tired rhetoric and hastily written pulp so many other authors think of as noteworthy military scifi. Larson rules this arena totally, and The Dead Sun reminds me why I started this series in the first place: Larson, as a writer, is, in a word, exceptional. His work lives beyond the written page, and above the audio data bytes. If you peruse the web, you'll find blogs, chat rooms and web pages praising, debating, arguing and exploring the entire series. Want to know when an audiobook series REALLY does its job well? When people argue over their favorite characters, declaring that their favorite should have their own books in the series, and even write fan fiction in the same milieu, giving the series life beyond the author's pen..
Larson's Star Force series has all of this, and in my opinion, leads the way in this genre.
But, what about The Dead Sun? I sense in this ninth book, that we may be seeing the end of this fantastic journey (I hope to God not!). If this IS the end, what an incredible journey!
However, this may only be the end of a CHAPTER - We'll just have to see where Larson takes us. But having said that, I don't give very many reveals or spoilers in my reviews. I try to give you very solid reasons to buy or not buy an audiobook, based on the merits of the author's style, talent, and passion. By now, you know my philosophy on this - I will not spoil the author's wonderful work by giving you sneak peeks into what happens - You have the brief overview provided by Audible, as well as many other reviewers that happily spill the beans about the audiobook. As usual, I'll get marks against me for not doing so. Still I must be true to my convictions.
However, I WILL give this one thing to you regarding The Dead Sun - A new generation may be on the horizon, a new ushering in, if you will, of a new chapter and direction in this fantastic series. In this ninth audiobook, surprises, revelations and changes await you.
And, of course, exceptional writing.
If you follow my recent reviews, I have been MERCILESS on a number of military Scifi writers - Want to know why? I listened to the previous audiobooks in THIS series.
And the listening has spoiled me completely.
Very well done, Mr. Larson.
Where blood and steel join, take me there again!
I fully expect to get mixed feelings on this review - It's more on a personal level of my preferences regarding good military scifi. And since it's my opinion, I'm okay with that. So, let's rev this up...
This is, if you will, a mixed bag of nuts. Various authors provide a scifi military short story to create an small omnibus, if you will.
I like these authors and their stories, but I'm not a fan of short stories. Yes, it's somewhat the rage in certain circles. It IS a bit trendy lately, with authors trying to write stories that comprise a page or two, or three or fifty, and say as much as they can in as little space as possible.
In my mind, that defeats the very idea of expression. You don't define a great work by it's page count - You define it by the richness, definition and completion of the effort.
Certain authors do this NATURALLY, because it's who they are and how they write. It's their very nature, and when it happens, it's a glorious thing.
Military science fiction, by its very nature, needs length to some degree, to ramp up the listener into the author's milieu and to suspend disbelief, which is always essential to good military scifi writing. If rushed via a short story, it will inevitably boil down to...
"X shoots lasers and missiles at Y, BANG!, Y shoots lasers and missiles back at X, POW!, a mysterious secret is revealed, a hero arises, and both allow either X or Y to win, or both to die."
You just can't pigeonhole quality military scifi into a short story without giving up something important.
I feel that the authors here all had good stories, but they should be presented as full stories, not short, whet your appetite novelettes. So many questions, so many holes. In fact, these stories are so short, that saying anything about them almost gives it story away in its entirety. I WILL say, hover, that Larson had, in my mind the better of their tiny stories, and that's not just because I like Larson - In this case, he did okay with the span in which he wrote.
Again, they're all interesting, but thin. And thin doesn't cut it for me.
So, while these are pigeonholed, they're good, but not great - They need larger real estate to thrive.
Let's keep this brief.
I like the work, as it's a military sci-fi effort, but in the long run, it's lacking. It doesn't have the powerful emotion and drama I expect in a military sci-fi novel. More than anything, I didn't connect with the author or the work. And THAT, dear Audible listener, is the crucible by which all good writing is tested, and either is found in abundance or lacking.
For instance, listen to "The Forever War" if you have it. This is extremely good military sci-fi action at its finest. It's gripping, decisive, disturbing, and engaging, something you can't easily put down - A roller coaster ride you never forget. You will sympathize, you will relate, you will suspend disbelief - In short, you will ENGAGE. When compared in the light of such a great work, this is lacking, and I couldn't connect. While it's good, I feel the author could have done better. The plot is a bit tired and very thin, and while I wanted to be more engaged, I wasn't.
Will I get dislikes for my opinion? You bet. Count on it. But that's why it's my opinion. It's mine, and mine alone. So if you don't agree, I understand completely. Still, I hope this helps you to get a better handle on whether you'll connect fully on this author's ride.
So, while I feel there is potential here, the engagement is off.
Okay, I admit it - This is going to be an extremely prejudiced review, and with good reason.
I first read this book in the 70's. Yeah, it dates me a bit. However...
Nowlan was SO far ahead of his time with this novel, and now, an audiobook. Written in 1928, it was extremely far ahead for its time, and very well written. Edgy, cool and well-thought out for it's time.
I'm sure you've read the synopsis, but that's only the beginning of the story. From small squad fighting in the mountains, to rebel bunker life and warfare, to massive rocket battles sweeping the landscape, to high subterfuge deep within the Han palace, which stands on the remains of a once proud America, you are in for a ride.
This was the standard by which Buck Rogers was birthed. It changed a movie-going nation, and stirred the hearts and imaginations of people across the country that watched those short serials. They waited for the next in the series - And the next.
However, the serials couldn't capture the scope and drama of the book. It's a page-turner, and in this case, a wonderful listen.
Now, keep in mind the following - First and foremost, the narrator isn't stellar - at all. Reeves wouldn't have been my first or even second choice. A solid Dotrice would be excellent for this, Nolan's literary genre-building mark on science fiction. And, second, it's not a long novel. Still, great things come in small packages.
However, to show you how much of an impact this novel had upon me, I still have the faded, page worn copy from the seventies. I've read it many times since then, and this audiobook was a must have. A must listen. And TOTALLY worth it.
If you doubt this, go look at all of the write-ups and wiki articles on the work. They still rave on Armageddon 2419 A.D.
Dated? A bit. Older tech? Yep, but in a grand apocalyptic way, it actually makes sense.
Quite simply, this is iconic. You owe to yourselves to hear this audiobook.
Thought I had Simpson figured out. You've been there, too.
You listen or read a series of novels, and you get a basic idea of an inevitable path, of sorts. You expect, you analyze, you feel that you're ahead a few key steps, and then you...
Get surprised, and in the case of Simpson's latest, Human Plus, I was surprised, and in a good way. A Matrix-ey sorta way.
Start with a happy modern world very much like out own, and put the chief architect of its technological future dead center of an astounding conspiracy. A world-wide conspiracy. A world that has very few, if any REAL citizens in it, despite the millions that walk its streets, ride its waves, or drive its highways. And this brilliant man discovers that this isn't the ultimate reveal, not at all. There's a story much darker and deeper, more hideous and surprising than he could ever imagine - A supreme architect, infinitely greater than himself, has crafted this modern paradise, and in doing so, targeted him for a nightmarish purpose far sinister than he can imagine. In this voyage of discovery, a group of rebel outsiders contact him, reveal the truth, and his true role in this larger story.
Sound a little bit familiar? Sure it does. Neo, you must chose the blue pill or the red pill. Which is it?
Neither - This ISN'T the Matrix. There are subtle and VERY glaring differences here, and if you make assumptions at this point, Simpson will surprise you, as he did me. The one real similarity is that there is a much larger world just beneath the rabbit hole, and it just gets better from this point on, and down a path much UNLIKE the Matrix.
If you've come along for the author's ride in his previous novels in this series, strap in. This is a very cool and unexpected departure, and one I enjoyed, as I hope you will.
Use your Audible credit, AKA the the red pill. Stay in wonderland. It's quite a ride.
This will be brief, as I'm under the gun to complete a project for work this weekend. Actually, there's one other Audible review I completed yesterday, for Erikson's latest, but Audible has yet to post it. Anyway, I digress. Here goes...
This third in the series continues forward, and if you thought the the stakes couldn't get higher, the foes nastier, the price to be paid far greater, think again. It opens with a brief moment or two of calm reflection, and then the listener off on adventure far greater than expected, and it's non-stop. I know I didn't expect the storyline that Simpson threw my way.
It's good. It's solid. I regret that my time here in this review is so short. It deserves much more, and you deserve better. Please see the other worthy reviewers of this enjoyable listen. As a whole, they seem to agree with me, and I with them.
It's a good listen.
If you're this far in the series, you won't be disappointed. If you're considering starting the series, this is a solid vote that you should begin NOW.
Never trust an Artificial Intelligence! NEVER!
With regrets for this written in such haste,
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