Gretna, LA, USA | Member Since 2006
At times, Philip K. Dick can write. No, I mean REALLY write. Every word useful. Descriptive. VERY old school writing. A bit stiff at times, but that's part of his charm.
I've always thought that his novel, "The Man In The High Castle" would make a great movie. Just the premise, not even the plot, almost demands it. Consider the following:
Imagine if you will, a VERY different outcome of World War Two, one in which the Nazis are utterly triumphant. America, and rest of the world are totally changed, both in purpose and significance. The Nazis reign supreme.
But, really, is this believable?
My studies at Loyola University included an extremely unappreciated and utterly fantastic course on the Third Reich and its historical significance. Trust me, or look it up yourself. There are many key junctures in World War Two that could have easily gone a different direction, one in which Nazi Germany would have won the war. Want to know more? Read up on Hitler's Chief Architech and eventual Minister of Armaments and War Production, Herr Albert Speer, in his biography, "Inside the Third Reich," and you'll agree. There were countless opportunities for Hitler to win the war, but poor decisions, Mother Nature, poorly interpreted orders, and sheer greed, to name a few, worked in the allies favor.
Do I have a point? Definitely.
This is a book about what could have EASILY happened. So much so, it's a bit scary.
The idea of this book, therefore, is very sound, and quite believable. So, is it a good read? it is, and thoughtful, because of what happens much later in the story. What is that exactly? Listen for yourself. You won't find any hints here.
For such an interesting premise, it's got all the makings for a good listen expect one. I just did not like the narrator. Some narrators take to task with gusto and originality. Not so here. This book simply BEGS for a great narrator. For example, I would have used one of my favorites, David Drummond, on this audiobook. He would have done this work justice, just as he did for Salvatore's audiobook, "The Sword of Bedwyr," a FANTASTIC listen.
So, I feel that the decision to go with Weiner instead of true top shelf talent such as Drummond hurt this audiobook.
If you count on good narration such as I do, get over it. Remember the single most important reason to get this audiobook: At times, Philip K. Dick can write.
And this is definitely one of those times.
If you follow my reviews, you know that I like to roll the dice, to randomly buy a series on a whim, on the luck of the draw. Sometimes, it's a bust.
This time, it's a definite win, but if you go by how the series was created, you'd probably run in the opposite direction.
Here's one for the books: Jim Butcher is well-known for his "Dresden Files" series, created a fantastic fantasy series on a BET. Yep, a bet. Read on.
To quote the Codex Alera Wiki site, "the inspiration for the series came from a bet Jim was challenged to by a member of the Delray Online Writer’s Workshop. The challenger bet that Jim could not write a good story based on a lame idea, and Jim countered that he could do it using two lame ideas of the challenger’s choosing. The “lame” ideas given were “Lost Roman Legion", and “Pokémon”.
It DOES sound lame.
Well, Butcher makes it work. To the nines.
I've finished this first novel, and I'm enjoying this unique story line of humans with Roman similarities binding with elemental furies. Add unique races, backstabbing, politics, military battles, duels and an interwoven story line that pulls it all together, and you get a fantastic story that's simply put, a VERY VERY good listen.
The whole concept of fighting alongside elemental familiars used here is wonderfully executed. It's deep, well-thought magic-based partnership of man and magical creature is a pleasure to experience.
So, what about the writing?
Again, if you follow my reviews, you know that I love ENGAGING fantasy or scifi writing. Anything less won't do. And this is definitely engaging. There's great characters that plot, backstab, challenge, fight for their beliefs, devour their enemies, and celebrate their victories. You're taken on a great romp of a story, and in the end, isn't that what we all want in a good listen?
I know I do, and I so enjoyed this first audiobook in the series, that I bought the entire series. Yep. And I'm not disappointed with the decision.
Who knew that Lost Roman Legions and Pokemon could knock it out of the park?
Home run, Jim. Home run.
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