Gretna, LA, USA | Member Since 2006
Alastair Reynolds is a fantastic writer, and often, the challenge is to pick a first read of this exceptional author. Well, this is a GREAT place to begin: Strong plot and subplots, wonderful descriptive wring that draws you in, characters with appreciable depth, and a universe that is chock full of original ideas and execution. Chasm City is, in my humble opinion, one of the author's best works.
And it's also a GREAT listen.
You've probably read the audiobook's description, and have made a general opinion. Well, stop there. You have NO IDEA how well this has been written for you, the listener.
From viruses that cause religious memories and experiences, to dna-level bio-political synchronicity, to infected nanotechnology that warps architecture, to biology and societies on a far-flung planet that went from becoming the hub of the known galaxy slowly grinding into the dregs of a forgotten but very active planet of biological and social mysteries. Place a ferocious chase between murderer and hunter in this maelstrom, and throw in a backstory involving deception on the multigenerational starships that delivered mankind to this world. It's simply engaging and listen-worthy.
AND. You can start here to get acquainted with the author's other works.
There is a challenge though, and it's keeping up with the sweeping storylines that crisscross at many points within the story. Pay attention, and you won't be disappointed.
Keep your hands in the car at all times, because this is one exhilarating roller-coaster ride.
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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