Add Paksenarrion (an elfin name) to the pantheon of my heroes. In my review of Sheep Farmer's Daughter, Book 1 of The trilogy Deed Of Paksenarrion, I marveled at Moon's treatment of military issues and her integration of men and women in positions of leadership and of lesser rank. As I read the trilogy, Paks grew on me. I still feel that more character development a la George R. R. Martin and Terry Goodkind, would have fmade the trilogy a richer experience. This said, the trilogy is all about Paks, a remarkably human hero. I was in continual suspense about her fate until near the very end. But Moon does not kill off characters as Martin does. Instead, Moon wraps a gripping and at times spell binding tale around the development of her lead character, Paksenarrion Dorfan's Daughter. A well done first trilogy, in my opinion I am richer for having read it.
AOL is a witty, inventive book, performed by one of the best narrators in the business. Some reviewers give the book a rap because it is too short for them - only about ten hours. I did not expect more,given Brandon Sanderson's focus on his magnum opus, the final WOT volume. That he had the time to craft this big novela/little book is one huge credit to a guy who must love to write and write to love. Sanderson shows more humor in this book than he has shown in any of the others, with the possible exception of his young adult novels like Alcatraz And The Evil Librarians. While Alcatraz was a clever theme, AOL is downright side splitting at times in the banter between Wax(imillian) and his sidekick
Wayne (Wax and Wayne). I found the book to be a highly credible appetizer for a likely new Mistborn series. Sanderson continues his highly inventive magic - from eyeglasses in Alcatraz to energy-giving jewels in The Way Of Kings to the acrobatic moves of allomancy in the original Mistborn works and now in AOL. No atrium in this one, folks but you don't miss the super-metal. AOL brings a modern twist to allomancy and ferrochemie (found in the original Mistborn trilogy. AOL is economically written and fast paced. The book held my attention throughout. The book departs from the medieval sword and sorcery so prevalent in fantasy. Set in the new world some 300 years after the Final Empire, it has an early 20th Century technology. It's more mystery than fantasy, too. But who cares? AOL is one ripping good yarn with no obvious flaws save too little focus on developing strong female characters. Michael Kramer is at his very best in this book. A hard act to follow. As engrossing as AOL is, though, I still have my sights set on the #2 Stormlight book.
Moon's Pax stories get better as she moves along the thread spun by story telling the lives of Pax's friends - Kieri, Doran, Jandelier, Arvin et al. Echoes Of Betrayal is competently written in a pretty straightforward manner in a fast paced drama which brings out heroism, treachery, intrigue and a few surprises like a dragon attempting to heal Stammil's eyes then taking him into service, for example). I missed Pax in the prior book in the series Kings Of The North - and still do. But aside from some Pax homesickness, EOB filled my reading time in a most fulfilling way. I like Moon's sense of justice and appreciate her sword and sorcery presented as passing violence. With Moon, an ex-soldier, you always see conflict and violence in an ordered, disciplined fashion. EOB is much like her other books, in that bad and good are locked in mortal combat, psychological as well as physical. EOB may not be great literature, but it is a well crafted fantasy tale which will entertain and leave the reader feeling that s/he has been in the company of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
It took me six months to read Dance With Dragons. It started slowly, ever so slowly. We trudged here and there with Tirian as he passed from wine barrel to luxury to a boat ride with some strange characters to imprisonment and on and on. I just could not maintain the proper attention span to read this book continuously. Yet I was so invested in the series (A Song Of Ice and Fire) that I kept reading. I was rewarded, though the book dragged once again in the chapter dealing with Denaries. The book is filled with surprises and misdirection and picks up a lot of the loose pieces left in other series books (the young Stark girl, young brother Bran, the female knight who was hung but may not have died permanently and so on). Martin's story-telling is superb at times, though the "dance" drags at other times. Throughout, though, he's remarkably innovative in his fantasy creations and thorough in character development. He has a true villain in Ramsey Bolton, who is far more cruel and uncaring about others than even Searcey could ever hope to be. Dance ends strongly, in my opinion, with Denaries poised to return to center stage and with continued military and political machinations still roiling the land in Westrus. I think Dance is only a 4, despite its numerous strengths. I do, however, look forward to
book Six in the series.
The Way Of Kings is a superbly crafted work which demonstrates Sanderson's unfolding maturity as a writer. The vision is grand, the plot complex, surprises many. The book did drag a bit at times, especially during flashbacks. Overall, though, Way of Kings begins what will likely be a multi volume series in a grand way. I could not help compare the book with the vivid characters in Mistborn,
Sanderson's first major work.
Though it took awhile to really become involved with them, I found WOK's characters to be intriguing and
quite complex. Like Mistborn, good and evil are not quite so distinct as, say, one finds in Terry Goodkind or Robert Jordan. Frankly, I prefer Sanderson's nuances to Goodkind's political preaching. Narration is superb; Kramer and Reading are a great team. My 5's always leave me wanting more, full of questions about future directions and with a real warmth about the triumph of Good and Honorable.
I almost didn't read the first book in the Isaak series. Reviews were all over the map, from 2 to 5. But I'm glad I did. I enjoyed the intrigue and plotting and found the mix of technology and sorcery intriguing. Canticle is a much better written book, in my opinion. It does not have a lot of sword and sorcery, but it has a tightly woven plot, suspense, well developed characters and a slowly revealing story line. The book's two chapters of climax are superb. Narration is magnificent. I await the third book, Antiphon, which was just published. Audible, won't you order it? Scholes is a rising talent, one whose work is on par with other rising stars such as Brandon Sanderson.
Sanderson and Kramer team up on a first rate fantasy that will surely mark a high water reading experience for fantasy lovers. Michael Kramer is a naturally husky-voiced narrator with an excellent command of voice impersonations. There is nothing not to likeabout the entire trilogy of Mistborn. It's an action packed, thoughtfully developed and highly imaginative rendition of the fantasy genre of the sword and sorcery variety. Sanderson has done himself proud with this trilogy, in my opinion. Still in his 30's, he has much ahead. Mistborn is no ordinary sword and sorcery thriller, as Sanderson brings some of life's big questions to bear in the interaction of his characters. What are humanity's limits, it's gifts? Granted, there is little intellectual discussion but one is reminded of ancient Greeks in their interaction with their gods. Above all, Sanderson is one of the most imaginative writers I've encountered. Reading him is a joy which will linger long after the last word is read. A solid 5, this trilogy ranks with my favorite reads (including the works of Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind and George R.R. Martin.). I'm looking forward to Sanderson's next contribution to Jordan's Wheel Of Time saga.
Vatta's War, the series name, started slowly, with a narrator who did not vary voices much and with perhaps some unnecessary detail. This said, sticking through Book 1 got me hooked on the series. And Cynthia Holland grows on you. Her "gravely" voice is perfect for a space wardrama, I think. She got better at differentiating characters from themselves and from prose, too. Moon has a super ability to write about war and diplomacy, and she employs it to the hilt in this series. Moon's battle scenes are classic, superbly done, in my opinion. She creates engaging characters, too..people who stay with you for some time. It helps, of course, that her characters have the hero in them brought out by the action. All of this said, it would have been useful to know more about the origin of the "pirate" force. They did not seem to have a point other than greed and hatred. This said, seldom are things so black and white in real life. Book 5, Victory Conditions, brings the series to a climactic and successful conclusion...but there is room for a sequel a la Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth and Void Series and Moon's own Paksenarrion series. Space is a big place! Why did I rate the book a 5, when I rated the first one a 3? I use a "visceral involvement" indicator to make my judgments when I rate books. Victory Conditions was hard to put down. That's a 5 in my book.
The series started slowly for me. I had to force myself to keep on through
the first part of Book 1. With book 3 and now this one, I find myself engrossed in the characters and the crafty plot which brings them together. I rated this book a 5 because it is an engrossing SF read with plenty of action. The space battles are marvelous faire. I am as engaged with Kyara Vatta as I was with Paksenarrion in Moon's first series The Deed Of Paksenarrion. What's better, other characters, like Raf, Stella, AuntGrace et al. are equally engrossing. This said, maybe the book is just too good to be real...none of the good main characters have been taken out (yet anyway), as one would find in George R.r. Martin's books, for example. But I really don't mind. There is a place for the good guys to win..and to keep on winning after taking some lumps. Moon's military background is especially useful in making the series plot realistic. There really is such a thing as the "fog" of war. The bonus in this book? The character Ransom, a rich and glorybound young man every bit as swashbuckling as Errol Flynn might have been. Ransom is not comic relief, but he does illustrate Kai's ability to weave an effective fighting force from "found" material. Only one notable flaw, and that maybe by design. Moon's universe is peopled only by humans, as different as they might be, but humans nonetheless. I find myself reading this book at lunch hour and every break I can find. Now, to me, that's a 5 by my most important measure...engagement with the book. .
From free wheeling to slogging. The books of The Deed Of Paksenarrion, Moon'[s first trilogy, entertained, stimulated and amused me from page one on through the end of the fourth book (actually a new trilogy with roots in Deed). I expected the same of Trading but was massively disappointed for about the first fourth of the book. The book started slowly, I did not have a clear sense of the environment and culture surrounding the characters...I may have found it hard to transition from fantasy to sf...and maybe narrator Cynthia Holloway's lack of variability between character voices worked together to stunt my interest. All of this said, I finished the book and immediately downloaded Book 2 of the Vatta's War series. Why? I am finally enjoying the plot, the action and most of all, the character of Kai Vatta. All of this said, I found the imbalance between treatment of genders hard to handle. In this book Moon's women are generally unbeatable Amazons who develop character traits throughout the story. Her men are stick figures with little importance and little else, too. This is tiresome stuff. This book is no better than average, but there is enough promise to get me to continue on to the next book.
Paks plays a cameo in this first book of a trilogy sequel to The Deed Of Paksenarrion, but there is nothing lost in the new focus. The reader is treated to more of the same in the DOP - moral courage, personal challenge, physical trauma and other fare of good fantasy. The book reads well and smoothly. Moon spends sufficient time with each of her three main characters before moving on to the next. I found Moon's character development more detailed and nuanced than I found in the DOP. Of course, DOP was written in the late 80's and OOF was written just recently. I would recommend this book to any Moon fan and to people who like a good, fast read. I found the reading quite workmanlike and enjoyable. Van Dyke is a good choice for narrator, decently talented with several voices. I was disappointed to come to the end...not because it ended badly but because it ended at all. Have to wait another year or so for the next. What's the series title, anyway?
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