James S. A. Corey (who is really 2 different authors that take turns writing chapters) makes the arrangement between the two of them work out well. The book starts with the 2 different authors' styles being apparent and then blends them nicely together as the book goes on.
The future, as presented in this book, finds mankind having achieved space tavel to the planets within the solar system, but not having reached out into the stars. Access to additional planets and resources does little to unite humanity and now mankind has a new way to discriminate against each other - based on where in the solar system one lives.
There is a tenuous peace that exists between Earth, Mars and the outer planets and it is within this fragile environment that the discovery of an ancient alien weapon sparks a higher level of conflict. The tale is well told and you never really know who exactly is behind the key events raising the level of tension and increasing the likelihood of war.
There is nothing extraordinarily unique about such a tale, but this one is well written and it keeps you entertained. The book also ends in a good place, wrapping up this initial story well and whetting your appetite for what comes next.
Jefferson Mays does an excellent job on the narration.
Much like at the end of the first book in this series, I found myself completely caught by surprise when this book ended. Once again I was entranced by Joe Abercrombie’s characters and the life infused into them by Steven Pacey and it was jarring to abruptly be forced to return to real life. I say abruptly because there is no closure to the story arc with this book. If you decide to come this far then you will need to go further to sate your hunger for an outcome to the many story threads.
Book two follows Bayaz, Logen, Jezal, and Ferro on their quest to the edge of the world for a powerful artifact. Of course this is a volatile mix of personalities and the only time they aren’t close to killing each other is when someone else is trying to do the job for them.
The Union’s war in the North continues and Collem West finds himself entangled within a dysfunctional military leadership group facing a deadly enemy in Bethod and his assembled armies. With two Generals that spend more time opposing each other than the enemy and a useless, spoiled Prince the Union army is primed to destroy itself.
And finally, our old friend Glokta finds himself in the South tasked with preventing the Gurkish from taking the city of Dagoska. As a war starts up on a second, much less defended front, Glokta must fight his own demons from the past as a prisoner of the Gurkish in addition to the Gurkish themselves.
I was pleased with the increased amount of time spent with Logen’s former band of Northmen, which is now led by Threetrees. As with all of the other story threads I was always eager to find out what happened to them next and was always saddened anytime someone was sent back to the mud.
So if you enjoyed book one, I see no reason why you would not enjoy book two. As with book one, I am once again only handing out 4 stars overall because of how I was left hanging at the end. I was shocked when it was over and felt there should have been more to the book and more closure to the story threads before moving on to book 3. That being the case, I did not hesitate to fire up book 3 because I need to spend more time with my new friends, no matter how flawed they are. And I must know what happens...
Joe Abercrombie has created a cast of characters that just ooze personality and Steven Pacey has brought them to life with a wide array of engaging voices. This is the first book I have listened to involving either Joe or Steven but it certainly won't be the last!
There are 3 main point-of-view characters in the Blade Itself:
The first is Logen Ninefingers, a Northman known as "The Bloody-Nine." The nickname comes from the wake of corpses he has left in his past as well as the fact that he is missing one of his fingers. Logen has a surprisingly easy going personality for someone with his bloody history and is often surprised by the fact that he is "still alive" whenever he survives yet another life threatening encounter.
Inquisitor Glokta is a bitter, crippled torturer who would like nothing more than to torture whoever it was that invented stairs, which are the bane of his existence. He learned how to torture and break people first hand when he was a prisoner of war and it was done to him. He bears many permanent handicaps including the fact that half his teeth were removed in such a way that his remaining upper and lower teeth never overlap and he cannot chew solid food.
And finally, Jezal dan Luthar, is an arrogant, self-centered nobleman who has every advantage in life and takes it all for granted. He is a promising swordsman who really doesn't want to work hard to realize his true potential. His father's wealth has provided him an entry into the Contest, the most prestigious fencing tournament in the Union, and he seems determined to embarrass his family name and throw this opportunity away.
What really amazed me about the book is none of these 3 main characters is all that likeable and their stereotypes are somewhat cliché in the fantasy genre. They have many undesirable traits, they act in unethical ways, and there is really no reason to like any of them, but I loved them all! It was the perfect combination of Joe Abercrombie's writing with Steven Pacey's reading that made we want to spend more time with each of them, learn more about their pasts, and find out what happens to them in the future.
Once Bayaz, the First of the Magi, entered into the picture things were building up to something special. Bayaz acts as a catalyst that turns everyone else's life upside down and he assembles many of the characters into an incompatible group of personalities for a purpose only he knows. I found myself ready to go on a grand adventure with this unlikely collection of individuals and then the book was over. This is the only reason I do not give this book a 5 star rating overall. It set the stage nicely, but then it just ended.
If you are looking for a single book experience then I must caution you against this book; however, if you want to be entertained and you are willing to commit to more than one book, then this is a credit well spent.
I read the original Shannara books when I was younger and really enjoyed them. I also listened to them again recently in audio format and did not find them as entertaining as I thought I would, especially since some of them cost me 2 credits. However, I did enjoy spending time with the characters I remembered from many years ago so nostalgia carried me through.
With the Genesis of Shannara, Terry Brooks goes back in the Shannara timeline to tell how our reality transitions into that of Shannara which is a more traditional fantasy setting populated by elves, dwarves, trolls, etc. I found that to be an interesting concept so I picked this one up with some high hopes.
While this isn't a bad book, I was slightly disappointed with multiple things. First off, the downfall of our civilization is well under way when the book starts so you don't get much of the initial transition from normal to Armageddon. Second, the characters are all ok, but not as interesting as I would have hoped for and some of the concepts like "the elves have always been here" just didn't resonate well with me. And lastly, this is a major cliffhanger on multiple fronts. One of the worst cliffhangers I have read, meaning that multiple big events are underway and all left unresolved, which left me pretty unsatisfied at the end.
So if you plan to go "all in" on the series go ahead and pick this one up, but if you want to dip your toe in the water first you will likely find yourself with the same dilemma I have: Do I take a chance that book 2 will leave me satisfied when book 1 didn't, or do I just walk away now? Do I buy book 2 simply because Terry Brooks left me out to dry with the ending of book 1?
I thought Dick Hill did a decent job on the narration and I do not share the negativity expressed by many other reviewers. Dick Hill is a veteran narrator with a large body of work, and I tend to enjoy his narrations even if he isn't my favorite narrator.
I found the Stand to be a chilling ride as the world went from "normal" to "post-apocalypse" with one domino falling after another until the transition could not be stopped. The threat of the Super Flu depicted in this book stayed in my mind even when I wasn't actively listening. When someone near me would cough or sneeze a momentary sense of dread would come over me before I would rationalize away that the Super Flu threat wasn't real. Stephen King uses a mix of real and fictitious locations in the US throughout the book and that made it feel all the more possible.
The listener will come to know many characters throughout this book and Grover Gardner does an excellent job making them all unique through a variety of voices and accents. You are never really sure who is going to make it and who isn't and you will find yourself rooting for some and not others. The characters themselves are spread all over the US and each watches the world crumble around them based on their own circumstances and this makes for a nice diverse set of perspectives as to what is going on. Eventually as each character struggles to survive in the post-apocalyptic world a common thread begins to bring them all together. The story then transitions from following scattered individuals to the build-up of a battle of good vs evil.
Two distinct groups start to congregate together due to shared dreams pulling them one way or another and it is the potential conflict between these 2 groups that becomes the main focus of the story. Mother Abagail is pulling the "good" individuals towards her and she is a very religious figure on the side of good. This causes the non-religious characters to have to come to grips with this concept and I can see this possibly being a turn off to some readers but I think most won't mind.
I can see why the original release of the book was edited down as the story does tend to move slowly at times but since I never read the original I can't say if the edits make a significant impact or not. If I could give half stars I would rate this 3.5 overall as I definitely enjoyed it, but not quite as much as most of the books that I give 4 stars to. The 47+ hour length is what makes me drop it to 3 instead of going up to 4.
The duo of authors that are "James S. A. Corey" (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) continue their excellent space opera with Caliban's War, which picks up shortly after the events of Leviathan Wakes. The solar system is still a powder keg waiting to explode and James Holden & crew once again find themselves in the thick of it. Earth, Mars, and the Outer Planets still don't get along and the threat of the Protomolecule on Venus only divides the factions further.
Jefferson Mays does another excellent narration so if you listened to the first book then you will feel like you are back among old friends. Amos is as entertaining as ever, and some new favorites are introduced including Avasarala, a sharp-tongued earth politician, and Roberta Draper, a career Martian Soldier who finds herself unsure which side she is on in the brewing war. Although it takes a little while to come up to speed on the new characters it all comes together nicely before the end.
If you haven't listened to the first book then I would highly recommend you do so before starting on this one. This book is as good as the first and the ending will leave you eager to find out what happens next so it makes for an excellent middle book of a trilogy.
I was looking for a good series of books to listen to on car trips that are about 5-6 hours long and this series seemed perfect. Since it is a long series of books in a genre I love with pretty good reviews I picked up the first 2 books during one of Audible's promotions.
Now after having listened to the first book I regret owning the second. Unlike many of the positive reviews I read on this site I did not read the book long ago so my impression is not warped by nostalgia.
The characters have little depth, large events are rushed through, and the narration by Alessandro Juliani is mediocre at best. I found myself with no attachment to the main character Corwin and his other family members are equally uninteresting. Not enough information was ever given about Amber itself for me to care about who rules it so the story arc of Corwin trying to retake it held no suspense for me. Battles were rushed through with little detail and in the end I found myself just wanting the book to be over so I could spend my time listening to something better.
Alessandro Juliani wasn't horrible and he does do a variety of voices, but his narration as the main character Corwin is stiff and boring. It made it seem like Corwin cared as little about the outcome of the story as I did. I wouldn't shy away from other Juliani narrations though because I could tell that he has the talent to do a better job with different material.
So my advice would be to steer clear unless you have fond memories from having already read the book as those reviewers seem to be very satisfied with this offering.
Princeps picks up shortly after Scholar leaves off and continues to follow the life of Quaeryt as he develops his Imager abilities. He figures out new ways to use his powers in various different roles and he becomes an important tool for Lord Bhayar. This book is not as boring as Scholar but it is also nowhere near as interesting as the first 3 in the series.
Why is that? In the first 3 books the magic and abilities of the Imagers was more fully flushed out and we learned about those powers along with the main character. Rhennthyl was a likeable character and it was easy to put yourself in the story and imagine what it would be like to explore your new found magical powers and struggle to understand the rules around the use of such powers. There are powerful Imagers teaching the newbies and it is interesting to see how they discipline themselves and how the world deals with the fact that Imagers exist.
In the new series Quaeryt is not very likable, sometimes uses his powers in morally questionable ways, and is represented as the only Imager to ever figure anything out. Apparently all other Imagers take their powers for granted and only he pushes the boundaries of what is possible. That doesn't sit well with me and I don't find myself rooting for him or wondering what I would do in his place. It is this disconnect that has me enjoying these books much less than the first three.
If you liked Quaeryt in the last book and enjoyed the role he plays in defining Imager abilities then you should like this book even more. However, for me I do not agree with the other reviews stating that this book is up the standards set in the first 3. It's better than Scholar but still not on par with the others in the series.
William Dufris does another solid job on the narration.
I picked this one up for a car trip because I wanted something that could be started and finished by the time I returned home and this was the perfect length. I also enjoyed the short lived Dresden files TV series and was looking forward to experiencing some more urban fantasy.
This book exposes the listener to beings from many mythologies and they come with some complicated and unfamiliar names. This would have been fine if I was reading the book and was able to see how the names were spelled but as a listener I found it hard to keep it all straight especially with a gap in my listening in the middle of the book. I love listening to books with tons of characters but I think it was hearing all these names without ever seeing them that muddied the waters a little for me. A lot of these characters are introduced with little depth to them and it takes the whole "powerful beings secretly living among us" concept way too far.
On the positive side, as mentioned by almost every other reviewer, Oberon (the dog) is laugh-out-loud funny. Luke Daniels does an excellent job on the voices, especially Oberon, and he definitely made the experience more enjoyable.
I think this book has received the high ratings that it has simple because of the dog. If you want a short listening experience that will make you laugh a number of times go ahead and pick this one up, but if you look past Oberon the rest is mediocre. If you are into various mythologies that will be a plus and your enjoyment of this book will likely go up.
The Farseers rule the Six Duchies and have for many generations but dire times are at hand. The Red Ships are raiding the coastal cities and the King is aging. He has many sons so the line of succession is well defined, but that doesn't exactly sit well with the son who is furthest down the line.
Sound familiar? It certainly is but Robin Hobb offers you the chance to experience it all from the perspective of a young boy who doesn't even know his name. This boy is thrust into the middle of Six Duchies intrigue and politics and his life is directed down a path dictated by others every step of the way.
You learn about the world as the boy does including the magical abilities known as the Skill and the Wit. The Skill allows individuals to share thoughts and strength over vast distances and the Wit allows people to share their minds and thoughts with animals. For me it was the concept of Wit-bonds that are formed between people and animals that got me emotionally invested in Robin Hobb's world and characters.
I found it very easy to align with the main character and I enjoyed learning about the world from his perspective. This book made me want to know what happens next in the series but it is also complete enough to stand alone. Book 2 is not that way and if you go beyond the first book you are likely in for all three as I found the end of book 2 to be thoroughly unsatisfying.
Paul Boehmer does a fine job as narrator and since he also narrates the Night Angel series it felt right at home having him read the tale of another young assassin. The two series are very different, but both enjoyable in their own ways.
Peter Clines does an excellent job picking up the story 2 years after the events of Ex-Heroes and introduces a new ingredient to his post-apocalyptic world: the super soldier. Of course little goes smoothly in a world full of zombies, super heroes, super villains, and now super soldiers.
When the military reaches out to the survivors at the Mount, Stealth and St. George are faced with some difficult decisions to make regarding the society they have worked so hard to build and protect. The inhabitants of the Mount never really planned for the option of being re-integrated into society and some question the validity of these government representatives. Others are eager for things to change and see this as a way to make that happen. The story moves forward at a rapid pace and the book flies by faster than Zzzap on a scouting mission.
That is until it ends all too quickly. I enjoyed most of the story but didn't feel a real sense of closure at the end. I wanted more of the threads that were started to be tied off but I guess I will just have to wait for the next book. The third book is slated to come out in 2013 and Peter Clines has begun to work on the 4th, so there will be more comic style fun to enjoy in the future.
There are actually 4 narrators of this book and they all do an excellent job. Although not listed by Audible, Mark Boyett is one of the additional narrators along with Elizabeth Rogers.
If you enjoyed Ex-Heroes then this is more of the same. This is an action packed book worth listening to but don't expect it all to be tied up for you neatly at the end.
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