This is the first book in the excellent Hollows series. If you like this book, you will like all of them; if you don't, you won't. I found them very enjoyable! The story is good, the characters are good, and the narration is good. I feel a little pompous when I say that a book isn't "great", as in great literature, but I don't think that is the writer's intent. These are fun reads that will take you into a new place with plenty of action, magic, and even romance.
These books do have plenty of romance in them and even talk about clothes and shoes, but it's all part of the main characters and done in such a way that it reveals things about the characters to you. I'm a guy, but I'll go out on a sexist limb here and admit that I really enjoy reading female authors because they usually do a better job overall at getting across the internal conflicts of the characters, their motivations, their hopes/fears, and yes, their feelings, and let's face it, they write female characters very well. I also happen to have a vested interest in figuring out what makes the fairer sex tick :)
This was the first series I started listening to on audio some ten years ago. The writing of Robert Jordan and the narration by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading sealed my fate for loving audio books. This was also a shared thing between my two sons and myself as we listened together sometimes and compared notes other times. Good memories!
While Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite writers, his collaboration with Robert Jordan brought out the best in his writing and Mr. Jordan's ideas. Brandon Sanderson used the skill of a surgeon and the care of a curator in bringing these last books to life and I will be eternally grateful to him for that.
Thank you Robert Jordan for everything you did for the fantasy genre and for the imagination of nerds like me!
I liked the Monster Hunter International series a lot, but felt that Larry Correia could do better. In this book, he proved me right! Yes, he still had to employ "the end of the world" scenario in this book, but that wasn't until near the end, so it wasn't nearly as overdone as every time he did it in the MHI books. Also, the story and characters are much more refined and not as stereotypical, well done!
This book is inventive, a great mix of old/new almost like a fantasy steam punk vibe. It has a great cast of characters with plenty of strong female leads and some sweet casting surprises. As usual, the pacing in the book is excellent and is hard to put down. And finally, the book is topped off by superb narration!
He killed off enough characters to keep it interesting, but not so many as to ruin the story. (That's one of the many things most writers could learn from George R.R. Martin, he's not afraid to kill off his main characters. But, that "not knowing" if your main characters are going to survive the scene, really gives you a reason to keep reading. I dislike reading books about epic battles and fighting where none of the main characters ever take one in the chest.)
I think this is the best book Larry Correia has ever published and I can't wait to start reading the next book in the series that was just released on audio!!
Peter F. Hamilton is one of my favorite sci/fi authors. Just short of 1,000 pages in hardcover, I was really looking forward to digging into this book (yes, I bought the hardcover also). His books are usually sweeping space opera's with enough sci and fi to choke a normal person. This book started out with the usual excellent overflowing amount of cool ideas, interesting characters, and pacing that I have come to know and love. Please note that I rated this book 4 Stars, so I want to re-iterate that I really liked the book overall.
However, somewhere in the middle, things got a bit muddled, a little repetitive, dare I say... a little boring. The writing was excellent, don't get me wrong. But, I think writers of this quality sometimes get away with a lack of hard editing simply based on their reputation. I myself could have probably edited out 25% of this book without the story having suffered at all. Granted, that 25% that I would throw away would be better than 90% of anything I could write, but that's not really the point.
Another "tell" in a book that sags is that it gets really good again near the end and the pace noticeably increases. It's as if the writer has discovered their error and is trying to make good. This is where the editor should step in, remove the overstuffing, and make the whole thing sing. The amount of sci-fi-ness that was put into the last 10% of the book was more than what was in the middle 40%, which is saying a lot for a book of this size. I think that at some point during his writing, the author may have bored of writing about forward-looking tech, sweeping universes, and the story of mankind and wanted to tell a good simple family/people story.
The characters were fresh and engaging. There was a great bit of suspense/mystery which I really liked and was refreshing (I don't think sci/fi writers employ mystery enough). Aside from when it sagged, the story moved along well and kept me very engaged. As always Peter F. Hamilton's technology is all stuff that I fully expect my great great grandkids to have. It's well researched and based in the realm of possibility such that you don't find it far-fetched, just forward-looking.
The narration was excellent! The accents sometimes faltered and some characters were a little hard to differentiate, but excellent nonetheless. Anybody that can narrate a book this long gets extra kudos in my book.
Think you know Joe Abercrombie? While this book is another excellent read from an extremely talented writer, it certainly pushes the bounds of his earlier books. It has that comfortable blue jeans feel, but I could definitely feel the writer pushing out of his own comfort zone and expanding his expertise beyond war and gore. Yes, there is plenty of action, but this book goes farther afield into human interaction. I'm purposely being vague :)
You could easily read this book without having read any of his others, but if you've read the others, you will have a far deeper appreciation for the... restraint on display here. The character array is nothing short of brilliant (as usual) and the narration is beyond brilliant (also as usual)!
No big shocks, just a lot of great character development and storytelling, which is just all right with me. This means our story can continue it's bloody march forward without getting all goofy because the author overreached (as often happens in many series). When your writing is this good, you can just let the story unfold without cataclysmic end-of-the-world uber drama and leave (at least many) of your characters alive to fight another day.
So, I say bring it on Mr. Abercrombie! Stretch it on out there a bit from time to time, just retain the elements that keep those pages turning and we'll be here eagerly awaiting to immerse ourselves in your imperfect world.
I swear that I could do a better job narrating this book! I rated the "Story" 3 stars, but I was just being nice. I couldn't tell much about the story because I am soooo distracted by the amateur reading quality, gahhhhh! I can usually get past almost any narrator. Even if they are not good, I can force myself to concentrate on the story, but this guy is like a really bad actor in a really bad movie. His normal reading voice has a surfer dude quality to it, but I could have gotten past that, except that his voice characterizations are very bad (you usually can't tell the difference between the characters) and worst of all, his cadence and the emphasis he places on different parts of the sentences is completely off. Imagine a really bad actor doing a reading for a part that he's never read before. Seriously, it sounds like he just turned on the microphone, opened the book, and started reading out loud.
Oh man, I hate being this negative, especially on a Brent Weeks book (I liked the Night Angel trilogy quite a bit). So, I just went out and bought this book in paperback and will give the actual book another try.
I'm sorry Cristofer Jean, but you need to keep your day job dude :(
George Martin has written a "lot" of things including several television shows, shorts, and novels, even about vampires (before that was all the rage), and he is good at all of it. I think it is his varied experience that makes this my favorite book series of all time. The world in this series has all the depth and breadth to create a framework second to none. But, it is the author's skill that brings this world to life through the eyes of his characters with such a balance of story and action that it would be impossible to read it without a huge screen appearing in your mind as you watch the story unfold in effortless detail.
This is one of the few book series that kept me up at night because I couldn't put it down, literally. This is one of the handful of "series" authors that has no problem killing off main and likeable characters. That fact alone will keep you on the edge of your seat because when your favorite character gets into a tough situation, you don't know if they will survive or not!
These books are written from the viewpoints of the characters, not the author. Many times, he will even play out the same scene multiple times from the viewpoint of different characters. You get the know the landscape and the characters very well, but it is not by reading chapters of boring back-story, lineage, or pages of self-absorbed reflection, but simply through the telling of the story.
I think you could teach a George R.R. Martin writing class to simply study his form, his pace, his willingness to throw pieces around the board (and sometimes get them killed), and his nearly perfect mixture of action and drama. This series showcases his talent, but is more clearly a marriage of his experience writing novels, shorts, and scripts across various genres. You don't accidentally write like George Martin. He has worked long and hard to hone his craft, eaten his writing vegetables, traveled widely, watched the world with a critical eye, and done his research. You and I are the richer for it.
You should also listen to these books if for no other reason than they are narrated by Roy Dotrice. Every voice and inflection is perfect, memorable, and never make you cringe or wonder who is speaking. The characters come to life making this series the most perfect blending of author and narration that you will find in an audio book, hands down. I've listened to audio recordings with a full cast that still weren't as good as the performance here by Roy Dotrice.
I started listening to this series seven years ago and I am still the most excited about the next (and last) book that has yet to be released. Games of Thrones is now a cultural phenomenon, and it couldn't have happened to a more worthy series of books. It's ironic since the author left television because he wasn't allowed to create at an epic scale, so he left a successful career to write these novels, but then got the funding from HBO to take it back full circle onto our television screens in epic scale. Just deserts I say!
I wanted to rate this book higher. The writing style is very good, the action is good, the character interaction is good, but I felt like the characters should have been developed more. Within a very short amount of time the main character goes from zero, to hero, to god and that made it very hard for me to connect. I felt the same way about the overall story. It went from pedestrian daily life to interesting/challenging/scary to just plain freaky way to quick. Same old monster/non-human characters, boring, but we blow them up in lots of cool ways.
Just to be fair, I got a few more books from this series and will see if things get better. If this book were bad, I wouldn't have bought more, so even though I didn't "love" this book, I obviously liked it well enough to read some more. Maybe that sums it up for me :)
I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, so this book (and the entire series actually) was a pure joy to read. It wasn't all sunshine and roses, but there were enough of each to stock a small nursery. There is a sense of hope in this book that is missing from many (if not most) sci-fi writing. Yes, I usually prefer more gritty reading, but it is nice sometimes to sit outside in the warn sunshine in a loose-fitting shirt and shorts, sip a lemonade, and read with a smile on your face.
The writing is smart and technically plausible (which for a tech person like me is always enjoyable). I even got to use some of this book to explain "network packets" to a client of mine :) The pace moves well and has a good enough mixture of action and prose, which is important for those of us with a short attention span.
The characters are planted in shallow soil, but not entirely transparent, and interesting at least. I actually learned a bit (and thought quite a bit more) about what it might be like to be a blind person, especially a blind person using a computer. I also remembered what it was like to be a teenager again, probably the reason I am still drawn to so-called YA books. But, I think if you can't enjoy an occasional lighter read, then maybe you need to lighten up just a bit.
The narration is second-to-none! How can you complain about a full cast of talent like this? You can't! I'd love to have more audio books done this way as it lends much more credibility to the entire affair (listening to some male narrators squeak out a female voice reminds you that you are listening to someone read a book instead of losing yourself in the story).
I have an Audible 2-book per month membership and actually went out of my way to purchase the 3rd book in this series before the end of the month, a rare occurrence for me. That should tell you all you need to know!
This book spends quite a bit of time talking about magic, but almost none is ever shown. It's a good book overall, but not great. For me, the narration brings it down a notch. I can normally get past most narration, but the narrator has an odd way of highlighting sentences that are meaningless and giving a deadpan delivery to the exciting bits which serves to remind you that someone is "reading" this book to you. Most narrators fall into the background and become the voices of the book, that didn't happen for me.
My biggest impression is that the book is just not that smart. Not many surprises, the characters are fairly standard for a fantasy book, they have one or two dimensions at most, and at the end I was left with the feeling that the author left many things out on purpose because he knew he was writing another book. Characters are introduced, not fully fleshed out, and some even go away (when they logically would not). Overall, the characters, plot, narration, and lack of detail left everything feeling a bit contrived.
I'm not a literary snob by any means, but I do have two fully function brain hemispheres that I like to have engaged when reading. This book was good enough so that I have purchased the second book, so there is plenty to enjoy here, just not as much as I wanted. What I really wanted was less talk about magic and a little more actual magic.
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