I had never heard of this book or the author when I bought the download. While I had some doubts initially, I am happy with the purchase. The narration is excellent and the story is pretty well constructed.
A midget standing on the shoulders of a giant (RAH, in this case) can sometimes see further than the giant himself. Two story lines and two central characters that seemingly couldn't be more unlike each other slowly intertwine for a pretty darned good yarn. I have to say that the antihero, Jack, starts out as almost too flawed a character to live with. It is painful to be living inside the head of such a cad. I found myself turning the story off just to give myself a break from the shame that rubbed off on me. To jump to the world of decimating ants on Banshee with the likes of Felix - a hero's hero -seemed a great relief. After all, what's there not to like about wandering around in body armor slaying bad guys?
I have pretty much exhausted Audible's selections of the tried-and-true science fiction authors I grew up with. I am happy to say that this book, in the end, delivered what I look for in sci fi.
Neil Gaiman has single-handedly lead me to consider pure fantasy as a worthy use of my time and attention. Scott Card famously and correctly observed that science fiction has rivets and fantasy has trees. I grew up with Heinlein-era sci fi and have greatly enjoyed revisiting all of my old favorites and discovering new worlds of rivets on Audible. I skipped the trees until taking a flyer on Gaiman's Graveyard Book. Enchanted, I moved on to American Gods and then rushed into this marvelous offering.
This is a classic quest tale, made rich and fascinating by Gaiman's sense of humor and gift for revealing dialogue. I feel like I have known the characters my whole life. The fact that swords, magic, and a mysterious London Below are part of the fabric of the tale is secondary to the real magic of the characterization and imagery Gaiman brings to this work. I have to think that the author's vision of his fictional world is enhanced by and bleeds into his excellent narration. The nuanced British wit that pervades the story is just a scream when delivered in the cadence Gaiman heard in his own head as the story was written.
I am sad that the tale has been told but emboldened to swim a bit deeper into the sea of fantasy on Audible.
Having cut my eyeteeth on 50's and 60's SF, I tend to hold all science fiction up to those standards. Audible has given me the opportunity to relive old favorites and expand my base of new ones. Ender's Game and its progeny hit the mark. A whole lot of Hugo and Nebula winners did not - I have had to flog myself into finishing quite a few. Even though I see the shortfalls some of the more critical reviewers see in Ender in Exile, I have to say I couldn't wait to get back in my car to immerse myself in Enderverse once again throughout the story. This would be a poor choice for a first entry into this series - but with a little background on the story, I think it's a fine effort. There is something captivating and comforting in living inside Ender's ever-infallible head once again. Aside from plot, characterization and pace, my idea of a good book is one that I don't want to put down. This book passes the test. Give yourself a treat and sit down once again with your old pals Ender, Valentine, and Colonel Graff.
I don't know how I missed both Ender's Game and Scott Card for 25 years. I had thought nothing in Sci Fi could really thrill me since Heinlein's passing. This is a stunningly original idea and universe, skillfully told, and well performed. The rest of the series is worth listening to only because the characters in this story become part of you and a chance to visit with them again can't be passed up. It did not win Hugo and Nebula awards because it was just good. This is a great story.
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