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James

Forest Grove, OR, United States | Member Since 2005

40
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 14 reviews
  • 42 ratings
  • 385 titles in library
  • 15 purchased in 2014
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  • Sheepfarmer's Daughter: The Deed of Paksenarrion, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Moon
    • Narrated By Jennifer Van Dyck
    Overall
    (1138)
    Performance
    (816)
    Story
    (824)

    Refusing to marry a pig farmer and joining the army, even if it means never seeing her family again, Paksenarrion begins an adventure that enables her to restore an overthrown ruler.

    Christopher says: "Intriguing start"
    "Fantasy's Red Badge Of Courage"
    Overall

    SFD starts like just an unusual fictional period piece. It does not take long, however, to see the diamond in the rough in Elizabeth Moon's heroine Paksanarrion. Set in the "usual" medieval fantasy setting, this book is like other fantasies as Tarzan might have been to Jane Goodall. Paksa is an ordinary soldier - a woman no less. This most unusual book chronicles her initiation and trials as a warrior in a style unusual to fantasy. The story is told from the soldier's POV, not the POV of rulers and generals. Depiction of Paks' evolution as a soldier employs military strategy as a backdrop - quite convincing. I gfound myself sneaking reads between checks on my work. The definition of a good book? Can't put it down. I rated it 4 because I thought that character development and application of psychology could have been stronger. That said, it's Moon's first book. Very promising indeed. Try it for new flavor in fantasy.

    13 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Tears of War: Dragon's Call Book Two (Volume 2)

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 39 mins)
    • By A. D. Trosper
    • Narrated By Valerie Gilbert
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (29)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (29)

    Old things come again and new things surface. Faced with a looming war, the riders have no choice but to leave the safety of Galdrilene and reach out to the nations for help. But the Shadow Riders are doing the same and not all nations are opposed to their rule. New discoveries are made, old wounds are reopened and betrayal hides among welcoming smiles. As one nation begins to unravel it's clear that some choices, even those made with the best of intentions, can have devastating consequences.

    James says: "First effort gains momentum"
    "First effort gains momentum"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Few fantasy books explain how those on the side of evil got there. In
    tears Of
    War, we see the further evolution of children born normal but who led psychologically brutalized lives into fighters of the dark. Apparently in ages past Galdirene and the non-magic human world lived in peace under "dragon law" until an evil wizard (think Lucifer, et al.?) turned his magic away from light and betgan anepic struggle that eventually destroyed both sides. But it did not completely destroy
    Galdrilene, as much of it was underground and survived the final battle. Galdrilene and its dragon law represent equal opportunity and universal literacy, mutual respect for all regardless of social class, gender equality, and other values which bind together a utopian society. The dark side, on the other hand, offers elites a chance to preserve their exploitive rule. All of this said, Tears Of War is a fast-paced and cleverly written epic fantasy in which ordinary people who have magic are trained to perfect it and, in the process, have life-changing experiences which thrust them into roles they had never before contemplated. Trosper's clever plot and imaginative characters belie that Tears is only her second book Narration is very capably done. Valerie Gilbert differentiates her characters well with accented speech. Yet the audiobook begged for a male narration partner to handle the male voices. In all, the book's plot and its development and characterization merits a very solid 4. The book held my interest throughout . However, I did wish for a more highly strategic and organized war effort. Galdirene may be somewhat of an egalitarian society where authority is lightly administered, but the good guys fought the dark without a well defined strategy and proper planning. All of the combatants were very new in their roles, so maybe it's understandable that their efforts were born of trial anderror. This said, for most of the first two books, two 600 year old people and a very mature dragon were nominally in charge, but seemed to provide only mentoring and aid when someonewas in need. The citizen turned wizard happens too quickly to be really believable. Even with these minor flaws, I look forward to the lastbook in the trilogy with relish.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Embers at Galdrilene: Dragon's Call, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By A. D. Trosper
    • Narrated By Valerie Gilbert
    Overall
    (85)
    Performance
    (82)
    Story
    (83)

    The war between the Guardians and the Shadow Riders ended in total devastation. The final battle killed all the dragons and left nothing but fields of ash. A small clutch of dragon eggs was all that remained to provide hope for the future. Five hundred years later, the ability to use magic is a death sentence and dragons are remembered as a curse. But the unhatched dragons sing for their riders...and six lives will be changed forever.

    Ashley Fontainne says: "A Magical Journey"
    "Promising new author, fast-paced story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Audra (A.D.) Trosper shared thef fantasies in her mind with a reading audience in her debut fantasy novel Embers At Galdrilene. Her work reminds me of Eursula K. LeGuin's early works combined with a heaping serving of modern gender-neutral fantasy. In the book, good and evil play outin the clash of colored dragons and shadow (black dragons - and their riders. If I had any criticism of this gbrilliant first novel it's that the only grey readers saw was a black dragon which failed to make a complete transformation to black from its natural silver. C.S. Friedman is one of the few fantasy writers who is adept at presenting good and evil as a dynamic, not a static state. All of this said, anyone who likes a fast paced, gripping story told with warmth an compassion will like Embers and its sequel Tears Of War. Ms. Trosper is at work on the last book in the trilogy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3064)
    Performance
    (2760)
    Story
    (2787)

    Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world....

    Timothy says: "Pleased, yet wanting more..."
    "Wax and Wayne? Really...(good)"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Echoes of Betrayal: Paladin's Legacy, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Moon
    • Narrated By Jennifer Van Dyck
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (256)
    Performance
    (227)
    Story
    (230)

    All is not well in the Eight Kingdoms. In Lyonya, King Kieri is about to celebrate marriage to his beloved, the half-elf Arian. But uncanny whispers from the spirits of his ancestors continue to warn of treachery and murder. A finger of suspicion has been pointed toward his grandmother, the queen of the Ladysforest elves, and that suspicion has only intensified with time and the Lady’s inexplicable behavior.

    Daniel says: "Awesome. You'll Love this"
    "Sans Pax again, but engrossing"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book 5

    • UNABRIDGED (49 hrs)
    • By George R. R. Martin
    • Narrated By Roy Dotrice
    Overall
    (11243)
    Performance
    (9771)
    Story
    (9803)

    Dubbed the American Tolkien by Time magazine, George R. R. Martin has earned international acclaim for his monumental cycle of epic fantasy. Now the number-one New York Times best-selling author delivers the fifth book in his spellbinding landmark series - as both familiar faces and surprising new forces vie for a foothold in a fragmented empire.

    Ryan says: "Enjoyable, but a lot of setup"
    "Dance has syncopated rhythm"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Way of Kings: Book One of The Stormlight Archive

    • UNABRIDGED (45 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Kate Reading, Michael Kramer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (9338)
    Performance
    (6870)
    Story
    (6914)

    Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter. It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor.

    Jason says: "Brandon's Best Work Yet"
    "The making of a saga"
    Overall

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Canticle: The Psalms of Isaak, Book 2

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 43 mins)
    • By Ken Scholes
    • Narrated By Scott Brick, William Dufris, Eliza Foss, and others
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (99)
    Performance
    (51)
    Story
    (52)

    It is nine months after the end of Lamentation. Many noble allies have come to the Ninefold Forest for a Feast in honor of General Rudolfo's first-born child. Jin Li Tam, his wife and mother of his heir, lies in childbed. As the feast begins, the doors of the hall fly open and invisible assassins begin attacking. All of Rudolfo's noble guests are slain, including Hanric, the Marsh Queen's Shadow. And on the Keeper's Gate, which guards the Named Lands from the Churning Waste, a strange figure appears.

    James says: "Encore, Encore"
    "Encore, Encore"
    Overall

    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.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Hero of Ages: Mistborn, Book 3

    • UNABRIDGED (27 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Brandon Sanderson
    • Narrated By Michael Kramer
    Overall
    (5757)
    Performance
    (3825)
    Story
    (3857)

    The conclusion of the Mistborn trilogy fulfills all the promise of the first two books. Revelations abound, connections rooted in early chapters of the series click into place, and surprises, as satisfying as they are stunning, blossom like fireworks to dazzle and delight. It all leads up to a finale unmatched for originality and audacity that will leave listeners shaking their heads in wonder, as if awaking from an amazing dream.

    Julio says: "Well concluded!"
    "A most satisfying experience"
    Overall

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Victory Conditions: Vatta's War, Book 5

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Moon
    • Narrated By Cynthia Holloway
    Overall
    (377)
    Performance
    (210)
    Story
    (209)

    Now, as Turek readies an all-out attack on the Nexus system - a key conquest that could seal the rest of the galaxy's doom - Ky must rally to the challenge, draw upon every last reserve of her strategic skills, and reach deep if she is to tear from the ashes of tragedy her most decisive victory.

    Jean says: "The last book in the series"
    "Live fire, live characters"
    Overall

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Command Decision: Vatta's War, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Moon
    • Narrated By Cynthia Holloway
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (355)
    Performance
    (200)
    Story
    (202)

    After orchestrating a galaxy-wide failure of the communications network owned and maintained by the powerful ISC corporation, Gammis Turek and his marauders strike swiftly and without mercy. First they shatter Vatta Transport. Then they overrun entire star systems, growing stronger and bolder. No one is safe from the pirate fleet.

    Jean says: "Good series"
    "Getting hooked"
    Overall

    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. .

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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