The details by Cornwell are always phenomenal. However, the story just feels like more of the same. Uthred is once again manipulated (weakly) into doing the kings bidding while all his advisers say he is not trustworthy. Same basic plot complications.
Not at all.
I thought the characters were well done.
Sadly no. I really wish I could say otherwise, but I had to push my way to the end, just to discover all my predictions from very early on were on target. I don't like stories that I know the majority of the story - including the ending - in the first third of the book.
Another adventure for Harry Dresden. As before, Butcher does a great job leveraging every gumshoe trope in a way that makes for an interesting story without overdoing it. While the characters are flushing out nicely and expanding their depth from book one, Murphy is at risk of becoming too stereotypical. Her attitudes and actions bordered on unbelievable. It wasnt enough to stop me from going on to book three, but if it doesnt improve it does put the series at risk for me.
I like Harry. He is a bit over the top, and some of the other characters are equally over done, but I liked it. The story was pretty good, but a little predictable.
In a nutshell, Harry is a gumshoe detective with all the normal foibles that gumshoes always have. He is living case to case, lives alone (mostly), has a beat up jalopy of a car, wears a long coat, is always at odd with most of the police, and has a favorite bar. Think of any gumshoe and you have Harry. Now add in the extra bit of Harry is a wizard. Not just any wizard, but the only openly practicing wizard.
You get all the normal conflicts of a gumshoe detective and the added conflicts of a hostile wizarding world since he is in the public.
The performance by Marsters was very well done. His voicing really helped bring the characters to life.
I liked the book, and am looking forward to the next one.
This book is very interesting, and also hard to review. The historical content about On The Nature of Things by Lucretius is very good and well researched. However, it is also a very small part of the book. Most of the book is about the person that re-discover the poem - Poggio Bracciolini. While I find some of the information about Poggio interesting, it has less to do with the thesis by Greenblatt on the poems influence on the Renaissance.
It is very clear that Greenblatt has a great deal of admiration and respect for Poggio, and that he values his contribution in finding On The Nature of Things greatly. However, the act of discovery is only a small part of the book. He spends a great deal telling us of how Poggio became who he was, what circles he traveled in, how his employer the Pope lost his job, how he eventually made his own way, and eventually how he retired.
I very much enjoyed the information around Lucretius' poem, but thought the material about Poggio was just too much.
A highly imaginative view of the missing years of Jesus. Well crafted story leveraging some well known historical characters, adding some believable emotional relationships, and paced by well timed sarcasm.
The book starts strong with a lizard, travels to far off lands, and ends as you already know - or does it? I won't tell! You must read the book.
Highly recommended! One of the best satire / comedies I have read in years.
Opinionated pseudo-history at best, revisionist nonsense at worst.
Weatherford uses fragments of selectively chosen historical facts to create a view of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire that is not only benevolent, but responsible for everything that shapes the modern world. He credits them as either cause or directly responsible party for paper money, modern medicine, diplomatic immunity, the German Blitzkrieg, public education, international law, printing press, the European Renaissance, international trade, global postal mail, and more. Anything the Mongols did since Genghis is the biggest, best, or just simply the foundation of anything else in the west. As if all the positive reasons aren't enough to create a new view of the Khan, he also declares that Genghis is the reason why European's grew to hate all asians and considered them so backwards they needed European colonialism to rescue them.
Weatherford glosses over the massive slave trade of the Mongols that was unmatched until Stalin and Mao enslaved many in their countries. He ignores the documented brutality of the Mongols, stating that they are simple exaggerations by uneducated writers years after the fact. He even states that the rapes historically described did not really happen - despite the DNA evidence (8% of Asian men, and 0.5% of worlds population).
Bottom line is that this is more a propaganda work that Genghis Khan (who appreciated and utilized propaganda) would have happily approved of for our modern times. It reshapes this bloodthirsty leader into a model for todays world leaders. A lover of peace and commerce that sought to help everyone and protect his mother (yep, another reason given by Weatherford for Khan's conquests).
Some may like this, but I say skip it. It doesn't qualify as history, and probably not even historical fiction. More likely fantasy.
Interesting read that covers the broad history of the many different inquisitions and how they helped shaped the modern Western world. While it does provide some details, I felt that it was skimming over many topics. The author repeats many of the same points throughout the book, but using the same basic evidence to his points. It left me thinking the book could have been half the size.
Cornwell returns to the archer Thomas of Hookton from the Grail Quest series, and his him chasing down another relic. Oh! And it just happens to coincide with another major battle of the 100 years war.
The details of that time, and especially the battles are amazing done. It is truly Cornwells gift. The story is also a breath of fresh air from his Uthred series that have become repetitive.
Bottom line is read this if you are Cornwell fan, or a fan of the hundred years war, or historical fiction, or just like a really good read.
The writing improved - slightly - over the series, especially in this book. E.L. James also achieves a goal required of writers, to emotionally impact the reader. In this book, she reached deep in to my emotions, but not to my happy trail. Instead, she reaches into me to find a pit of hatred - for Christian Grey. This way over the top megalomaniac was always a shallow and abusive individual. In this book, he hits a new low of abuse that had me thinking that the relationship between him and Anna required police intervention and a restraining order.
Worse than his emotional and sometimes physical abuse, is Anna's total willingness to accept it all with only minor reservations. It is a textbook abusive relationship. He abuses her, she forgives him, they proceed to reach a new low.
Then comes the speed of everything. James does not do timing well. Grey goes from 100k in debt (he borrowed it from 'her') at around 21, and by 26 he is making 100k per hour (or 2.4 million a DAY!) by doing takeovers and fixing companies. So 5 years to become an 'established' gazillionaire. The relationship progresses from first glance to wedded bliss to more in weeks. I would wager that porn films have better plot timing than this.
The writing has improved, but it is still horrible. I can only guess that the reason for its success is the need for the porn factor. I can't really comment on it, as I could not get past the abusive relationship. That killed the story for me. Combined with the horrific writing, and this series was one of the largest wastes of my reading time ever.
Finally, the narration for Anna is done well, but all the male characters sounded like they swallowed gravel. They all had the stereotypical low breathy voice. This might have been a good case where a partner narrator added significant value.
Christian and Anna are weak characters without any real depth. They are fated lovers that dance around each other, each afraid to speak their feelings for imagined risk of the other leaving. The whole of story winds around the central premise of trust, either earning or losing.
To accomplish trust, they must overcome their barely controllable lust for each long enough to communicate. It is like watching primates in heat. Perpetual rutting with grunting as the only form of communications.
Whenever they come close to any form of real communication with each other, the author injects a seemingly random and trivial plot complication. Of course, these complications spiral beyond ability of the characters to handle, causing totally implausible make-up scenarios.
I am guessing that romance and beyond (this book is in the beyond category) uses mono-dimensional characters as a norm, but in this story, the lack of any depth to these characters leads to such predictable outcomes. It is truly painful to work through the story when the characters don’t provide any compelling (or non-compelling) reason to like them. I was more interested in the side characters. In fact, I felt Taylor was a more interesting character than his boss.
I do see why some might enjoy the attempted romance of the story. Grey is the pinnacle of perfection to some. Endless skills in nearly everything and endless money to pursue them. Of course with little or no time commitments.
I cannot recommend this book.
Card rehash's his classic teen hero from many of his other books, creates a really interesting method of time travel, sets up a great potential story in Pathfinder - then ruins it all with Ruins.
The characters frequently engage in needless conflict and endless introspection that serve no purpose to the story or the plot except to lengthen this story from a very short story to novel length. Often Card cheapens the stories with tricks to get the characters out of trouble, sometimes with contradictions so close together it is not forgivable as missed by the editor or reviewer. Further, the characters become caricatures of themselves as the story progresses (way too slowly). Exaggerated emotions and artificial tensions that break from the expectations of those characters defined in Pathfinder. I expect the over capable super teen from Card's books, but this is the first time the super teen's switched from acting like highly capable adults to pre-teen middle-school brats within a sentence and without any stimuli.
The book felt sloppy and rushed, and has left me wondering if I will bother with another Card book. I was very disappointed and felt robbed of the time spent listening to it.
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