Terry Brooks was my introduction into Fantasy, and I have been a long time fan since "The Sword of Shannara". I've enjoyed the world he created and the stories he told, but as the series grew on, they started to become formulaic. Certainly he's explored different aspects of that world, different politics and occasionally created some great events. Elfstones of Shannara was perhaps one of his very best (along with "Antrax"), and this latest trilogy builds on much of the elfstone mythology. However, the story arc of of this particular trilogy (to date) has been fairly predictable. The 2 "big reveals" in the past two books were evident (to me anyways) from very early on in Book 1, Wards of Faerie. The characters are still pretty much the same as he's written before with new names (although perhaps with some gender reversals this time, which is interesting). What is intriguing is the regularity with which main characters die in this book- much of this trilogy has been little more than a slaughter at times, which is certainly a departure from previous writings. But it does leave you with a sense of hopelessness that you never had in previous works- the original quest gets fairly lost, if not outright forgotten by the end of this book as the remaining characters struggle to just stay alive.
If you're a Books fan, you're going to get this regardless, because you're invested in the world he's created. I don't really see this work as better than it's predecessors, although Terry is trying to explore new ground here, it just feels that the tools he has are getting a bit long in the tooth- though perhaps that speaks more to my growth as a discerning reader as I've branched out into other authors and story lines than it speaks of Terry's career. Still, I am a fan and will get the next book when it comes out, more out of nostalgia than truly being invested in the characters or the storyline at this point (though I am curious to see where it winds up).
Overall a very good book. Not the 1st in which he explores the notion of a "god" point of view- think of it as a companion to "Elantris";- not set in the same universe, but exploration of a different side of that coin. The individual plots are well thought through and nicely developed. Sanderson once again creates a unique and intricate "magic" system for the universe in which the story takes place in. I like that (as per most of his stories) he sets up the rules early on so that you can acclimate to the system, but then will break or bend those rules as needed to add complexity to the storyline, and that the system is more complex than it seems initially. The characters seem well thought out and have significant growth during the story, and there are plot twists aplenty.
Several people have issues with the narrator here. I thought the reading was just fine. As with most, you have to give a certain degree of "suspension of belief" when they read for the opposite gender, but for me that was only an issue for 1 or 2 minor side characters where this became problematic. There was one main character which was read with the cadence and accent of Keanu Reeves from "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure". I'm not sure if that was his own interpretation or if there was direction from the Author to go that direction. In the end it worked, although to me it gave too strong an impression to see the character with any other frame of reference, which was a bit limiting as how to you viewed him. (I kept waiting for him to throw in a "whoa… dude!" phrase.) A minor quibble though.
I've really enjoyed getting to know Sanderson's world and style of storytelling and have liked everything of his I've read to date- Mistborn being his best I think. If you like his work, then this is something you will also enjoy.
There is no doubt that George Martin is a masterful storywriter, and able to weave a plot line that is complex, subtle and intriguing.
The main issue I have with the series is that this story is primarily what I would classify as a "Drama". It has a much more historical, medieval feel to it than pretty much any other work of fiction I've read. But the fantasy element is really lacking. Oh, there are "dragon skulls" hanging on the walls, but for the vast majority of the book, there isn't really anything fantastical or supernatural (except for the fact that you can't place the geography, and the weather is apparently quite odd- though that isn't really fleshed out in this portion of the story. Oh, and a couple of zombies thrown in at the end.)
It never had any grand "end of the world approaching" sort of evil to be overcome (or if it is there, it's in a very early stage of development) that made it feel like it was an "epic" story. The characters are much more broken and flawed people and the acts of evil committed are pretty graphic.
This is a book primarily about political alliances, betrayals, intrigue and the personal relationships that revolve around those circumstances. The characters are well thought out and developed though (even if not particularly likable), and Roy Dotrice puts on a SPECTACULAR performance- absolutely one fine reading.
I can't say it's not a good story. It's just not one I was really interested in. It's much more centered around who is going to be the king and who will side with who. If you like that sort of thing, this story will fit you. But it's not for me.
Overall, there are a lot of good things going on in this Trilogy, but not all of it is Brooks "gold". (Rosalyn Landor does an excellent job of narration, so props there.)
Terry explores new ground in this latest Shannara iteration. Some of it feels a bit rehashed, some of it is new and exciting, and some of it in the end goes nowhere you expected. Terry starts out with his typical quest headed in one direction and becoming an entirely different one in the end. There are familiar love triangles and emotional conflicts to resolve, but there are some real plot twists that keep the story moving forward, although they don't always resolve in the way you'd expect or even like.
Overall, this trilogy feels like it is laying the groundwork for future works by Terry as opposed to trying to wrap up everything neatly in a 3 parter. If you like Brooks, this is a welcome addition to the series. Looking forward to where the Shannara legacy goes from here....
The Red Wolf Conspiracy is the 1st book in a 4-part sprawling epic fantasy. It is an intriguing story woven mostly around the voyage of an ancient and huge ship and the secret of it's real purpose. The narrative of the story comes from several viewpoints in the way of 1st person journal entries of the crew to family members, but is mostly centered around one of the lowest deckhands, nearly a slave and a young boy. He becomes the main character of the story and influences the entire plot though the relationships he makes, although at times it seems his story nearly comes to an end.
Michael Page, the narrator for this Audible version, has a fantastic range of voices and accents- it's easy to forget at times that you are listening to a single person reading the story. It really helps to distinguish the characters in your mind on another level and helps keep the story straight- you might forget a character's name, but recognize the voice. Some of the choices seemed odd at 1st, but they became part of the character quickly enough.
Overall, the story in the 1st book is very well thought through- it is complex but not overly so; engaging and deep. Some of the story is easy to figure out where it will go in general, but for the most part the story is unique and inventive. One of the really fascinating aspects of this fantasy is that almost the entire story is told from the perspective of life onboard the ship- the nautical aspect is pervasive and central to the story and the author has apparently gone to great lengths to make that aspect feel real, both in terminology as well as the chain of command with the crew of the ship. The ship's journey winds up becoming a key part of the entire political structure of the known world, and the story goes into the machinations of those empires and the subterfuge and conspiracies that follow.
Excellent book and well worth the time.
Engaging, spellbinding, finely crafted.
Can't say that's I've read another book like this. The storyline is unique- there is an ongoing story that the main characters are involved in, but much of the story is a retrospective narrative of the main character (Kvothe) dictating his biography at what he believes to be the end of his life. The back and forth of the timeline between past recollection and "current" timeline is seamlessly done and easy to follow, while keeping you engaged with the entire story arc. The character 's account of his actions are honest, tragic and engaging. You come to really care about Kvothe- at times he's a real S.O.B., but usually not without reason. The author really explores the way that myth evolves, how a person goes from being just another person (although exceptionally gifted) to becoming a legend that grows far beyond the person itself.
There were several instances where I found myself physically reacting to the story through laughing or speaking expletives out loud- I just found myself that wrapped up in what was going on. Very hard to put down.
Rothfuss is an artist with words. He doesn't just work out a good set of words and put them together- he uses the PERFECT words to describe the scenes and lay the story out for you- the fact that he labors over this is evident. His descriptions of events, scenery, motives and emotions are done with such skill.... this is the real magic of the story here.
Overall, yes. The main drawback to this book is the disjointed timeline, and the enormous amount of information that you have to absorb entering into this universe- there are so many politics and subtle plot lines, it is hard to discern exactly what is going on for several chapters- Sanderson likes to go from one plot line to the next, out of sequence and sometimes telling it through the eyes of minor characters that get killed off in a single chapter. That makes it very hard to follow exactly what is going on and why- I believe a more straightforward storyline would have helped the book. Having said that, however, this is my 1st Sanderson book, so perhaps if I had been more familiar with his other works, I would have had a better grounds for comprehending the story more quickly.On the positives, the characters EVOLVE and GROW, unlike Jordan's "wheel of time" series, which I finally gave up on at book 6. There is an arc of discovery and they learn more about themselves and those around them and how to adapt to the situations they are put in. The main characters are not the edgy, conflicted and morally ambiguous people of other trendy stories. The "good guys" can be clearly identified, and while they struggle with the hard decisions they have to make and their consequences, they almost always take the moral high ground. Personally, I find that refreshing- I really enjoyed the characters.
I really enjoyed the character arc, and the way everything (finally) tied together at the end, but still left a fair amount of mystery at the end for the next book. Satisfied, but still wanting more. The storyline of the 2 major characters come together towards the end in a powerful way that I really found rewarding.
The end battle where 2 of the main characters come together- as I said, a very well written and powerful sequence of events. To say more would be spoiling.....
A very long book and hard to fully understand the dynamics initially, but well worth the "read". I look forward to the other books in the series.
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