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.
Kvothe is a legend and everyone has heard of him. Sure the tales often differ and contradict each other but here is your chance to sort out the truth from the exaggerations. Rothfuss offers you the opportunity to hear Kvothe's story from the man himself and who could pass up an opportunity like that? Grab a chair and a mug and settle in for a long listen.
What makes this an excellent book is the detail of the world that Patrick Rothfuss has created. I always love a detailed magic system in fantasy literature and there is more than one of them to be had in the Kingkiller Chronicles. Kvothe's tale starts when he is young and the listener learns about the various magics in the world right along with him. The style and structure of the story really isn't anything new, but it's done really well. I am amazed at the level of detail provided and yet it is obvious that the surface has barely been scratched. There is a lot more to come in the subsequent books and I am looking forward to them.
So why only 4 stars if everything was so great? Well it took me over half the book to feel like I was really in a fantasy world. For me, Kvothe's language was too much like my own and Podehl's narration only reinforced that feeling. Despite the content it just didn't "feel" like a fantasy book of swords and sorcery. The good news is that I got over it and I am now happily listening to book two. So if you start listening and have that same feeling don't give up - it will pass and you will be glad you stuck it out.
Volume 3 of the Riyria Revelations contains the final two books of the series, book #5 Wintertide and book #6 Percepliquis. Michael J. Sullivan and Tim Gerard Reynolds reunite to bring all of the main characters back for a final crescendo. Unlike Volume 2 which leaves the listener hanging, Volume 3 ties every thing up nicely.
If you have enjoyed the first two volumes of this series then you are in for a treat as Percepliquis is definitely the best book of the entire series. Not only is it the most entertaining but Sullivan also goes the extra mile to bring all of the threads together. He masterfully weaves a complex tale full of suspense with big reveals and satisfying ends to the many character storylines. Royce and Hadrian are at their best here and I found myself laughing aloud many times.
Stop wasting time reading reviews and spend that credit. You will not be disappointed.
When I wrote my (too) short review of the first book in this series, The Way of Kings, I ended it with this sentence: "This book is so good I will gladly listen to it again as a refresher when book two comes out!"
Well I am back to say that I followed through on my promise and it was worth every second. The Stormlight Archive is epic fantasy at it's best and Sanderson shows why he is at the top of my must read/listen list. Here I am fresh off of investing close to 94 hours of my life listening to books 1 and 2 of the Stormlight Archive and I am ready for more.
The world is rich and deep, the characters are complex, and the magic systems are true Sanderson - well defined, unique, and interesting. All of the main characters are back and the story just gets bigger and bigger. For most authors the end of this book would be a satisfying conclusion to any series but it is obvious that this one is just getting started. Sanderson set the bar so awfully high with the Mistborn series that I am truly impressed he was able to surpass himself with the Stormlight Archive.
Veteran narrators Michael Kramer and Kate Reading are back and once again breathe life into all of the great characters. It was a pleasure to listen to them both for 90+ hours and I can't wait for book three. These two know epic fantasy and combine with Sanderson to form a perfect highstorm of epic proportions.
If you like fantasy books then you will feel like a kid in a candy store here. It is time for you to run up to the counter and plunk down your credit(s) to enjoy this wonderful experience. You won't find more hours of entertainment for so little cost anywhere else. Of course you should start with The Way of Kings but be assured that 94 listening hours later you will find yourself back at the candy store counter standing on your tip toes and holding up another credit. Of course, I will be standing right next to you. :)
Although Volume 2 of the Ryria Revelations contains two books, Nyphron Rising and The Emerald Storm, I still felt how I usually feel after reading the middle book of a good trilogy - unsatisfied with how things are left off and ready for more.
Royce and Hadrian continue their adventures and do some digging into their pasts, while Arista sets off on her own and faces some serious challenges. Each of the characters is flushed out some and the bigger picture continues to come into focus. For me, The Emerald Storm was a bit of a tangent and did not advance the main storyline as much as I would have hoped, but any story involving Royce and Hadrian is entertaining so I'm not complaining.
Tim Gerard Reynolds does his normal excellent job bringing the characters to life and at this point I could not imagine anyone else voicing them. So if you enjoyed Volume 1 there is no reason to hesitate on picking this one up, just keep in mind that the story doesn't end here and you will have to pick up Volume 3 as well.
John Scalzi teams up with his friend Wil Wheaton again to deliver Fuzzy Nation, an entertaining short story set on a distant planet. Although this is a modern re-write of an older story it is still obvious that the original story is from a simpler time. Wheaton does his usual solid job as a narrator. He reads well but he doesn't do a lot of voices so his performances are slightly limited compared to some of the other narrators.
This is a classic tale of a corporation exploiting resources for profit and destroying the environment until a new life form is discovered - the "Fuzzies". There is an ensuing legal battle to protect the home world of the "Fuzzies" as scientists and lawyers square off with differing opinions. The moral compass of certain characters waver as vast sums of money are weighed against the protection of this newly discovered species. Scalzi injects his usual humor into the story and 7 hours felt about right for this one.
Although predictable at times if you are looking for a short, light sci-fi story then Fuzzy Nation will serve you well. Not quite a 4 star tale for me and I would have given it 3.5 stars if allowed.
This Zombie novel is delivered as a series of journal entries from a military man who just happens to start keeping a journal prior to the start of the apocalypse. This format works fairly well although as the book goes on some of the entries no longer feel like realistic journal entries. They are too long and detailed and instead feel like chapters in a normal story which works out fine.
Overall this book is less than 7 hours total and there is only so much that can be done in that time frame. At times things feel rushed as the main character has emotional highs and lows that don't match the amount of time that has passed in the book. I listened to this on a long drive and it kept me entertained but felt incomplete when it ended. This is an intro to the series and should be approached as such.
If you are like me and want background details into the root cause of the apocalypse then you should know that little information is ever provided, which in the end feels appropriate for the journal entry format used. As usual Jay Snyder does an excellent job narrating and although I wasn't left with a burning desire to listen to book 2 immediately I am sure I will eventually get to it on another long drive in the future.
The basic ingredients here are pretty typical for a fantasy series: multiple races, a religious mythos, plots & politics, and of course, swords & sorcery. However, Michael J. Sullivan and Tim Gerard Reynolds combine to prepare those ingredients in a masterful way that makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts. Reynolds in particular does an excellent array of voices and seems to fits the material very well.
The main characters, Royce and Hadrian, both have a sense of humor which keeps the tale humorous and entertaining throughout. Although they are both thieves who take jobs for morally ambiguous individuals, they maintain their own moral code so it is easy to root for them to succeed when things go awry. At times it can be hard to tell if Royce and Hadrian are one step ahead or one step behind but that's all part of the fun.
This audiobook is actually two books in one and well worth the single credit. The first book, The Crown Conspiracy, is a nice introduction to the characters and their surroundings and thus allows the listener to get oriented within the world. There is clearly more than meets the eye going on but the details remain hidden for the most part. In the second book, Avempartha, those details come to the forefront and the bigger picture starts to paint itself. For a while things get confusing but eventually enough details surface for it all to make sense. When book two ends there is still a lot left to sort out so the story won't feel complete without continuing on.
Theft of Swords is a worthy listen for both Fantasy veterans and newbies alike and it will leave you wanting more.
I picked up Reamde because the Audible blurb for this story involved an online game world, hackers, and a virus and it seemed like an interesting topic for a novel. That premise is just the tip of the iceberg and this tale veers all over the place. The main characters wind up all over the globe, and the online world of T'Rain, as spies, terrorists, smugglers, and the Russian mafia all get entangled into the plot. Every step of the way Stephenson ups the ante and the plot almost seems to run out of control.
Reamde moved along nicely but it was always just on the wrong side of being believable for me. The relationships formed by some of the characters were just too strong too quickly and the mechanics of the online gaming world of T'Rain were also just a little bit off. If you aren't an online gamer the latter may not be of concern to you at all; however, if you are picking this up because of the online game connection then you should know that it is only a small part of a much larger story. It is not as central to the tale as it was in "Ready Player One".
Reamde can be a fun thrill ride that will head in directions that aren't obvious but only pick it up if you are willing to embrace a chain of highly unlikely occurrences. Malcolm Hillgartner does a decent job of narrating although he deals with a lot of different accents to various degrees of success.
This book takes place on Earth after the Bugger War and per the author himself this book was inspired by a favorite board game from his childhood: Risk. This book presents to the listener a global game of Risk where the main players are Achilles and Peter Wiggen along with a few of the Battle School kids from Ender's Game. Political and Military maneuvering form the core of this story and Orson Scott Card has clearly put some thought into the geo-political scenarios he presents.
This book also flushes out the back stories of both Bean and Petra and the relationship between them. Bean winds up learning many key things about his own background as the story progresses and the way you view him will fundamentally change. I found Bean's backstory to be more interesting than I expected and for me this was the better part of the story.
Be warned that the recording is pretty poorly done. The readers are good but it is obvious that certain words like Hegemon were mispronounced during the recording. The solution deployed here was to edit in a different reader saying the word correctly after the fact and this makes for a pretty poor listening experience.
So if you can tolerate the poor recording and are interested in learning more about Bean and Petra then give this one a go but if you are looking for more space based Sci-Fi then you should look elsewhere.
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter team up to pen this novel with a very interesting premise: Humans figure out how to "step' which allows them to instantly teleport to an infinite number of alternate earths. Since the technology required to build a "stepper" device is readily available to almost everyone this changes civilization as we know it. Economies collapse and governments struggle to deal with the concept of governing across multiple earths.
This is an interesting concept for sure but the characters created by Pratchett & Baxter are a bit dry and not all that interesting. Pratchett's sense of humor does surface from time to time but those times are too few to carry the day. The story does get more and more interesting as the "Long Earth" is explored but when some larger plot lines eventually emerge the book ends and leaves you hanging.
Only take the plunge on this one if you are willing to pick up more than one book because as a standalone novel it feels pretty incomplete.
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