Like most people, it was Neal Stephenson's name that drew me to this book. Then I read the description and it sounded like a great story, it however, falls short of that. It's not bad and it's not great, it's just okay. The story is interesting and has kept my interest despite the characters not having a lot of depth or development.
I don't mind the writing by committee so much, however, there are a few things about the writing that really stand out to me. One, the authors often use turns of phrase, idioms, common phrases, slang, whatever you want to call them that are common today but seem out of place for the mid 13th century. Not being a historian, I have no idea what common phrases were used in the time this story is set, but many of the phrases used by the authors feel out of place. The other thing that stands out to me is that the characters are pretty well learned and knowledgeable, and most of them speak multiple languages. Again, I'm not a historian, so maybe this was commonplace during this time, I don't know. It just seems kind of convenient.
The one huge thing about this book, and most other reviewers have commented on this, is the fact that the book just stops at the end. No story lines are tied up, wrapped up, or even sufficiently put in a decent position to be paused, the book just stops. I've already started listening to book two, and as I suspected, book two basically picks up where book one left off. It seems like, and I'll have to confirm this once I start book three, that they wrote one book and for some reason or another the decision was made to cut it up in multiple books after the fact.
Luke Daniels narration is pretty good, not great, but it is good.
Overall I liked the story enough to move right into book two. Ultimately it's a fictional tale and in that respect it's fun and entertaining.
This book blew me away! It grabbed me from the very beginning and didn't let go even after it was over. The story was absolutely amazing! Disclaimer: I was raised in the 80s and grew up listening to the music, watching the tv/movies, reading the books/comics, and playing the games (some, not all) that Cline uses in this book. I was instantly transported back to my childhood every time I hit play to continue listening to this book.
Not only is the story great but Cline's writing is very good too. It flows, it's crisp, and he's very descriptive, sometimes to a fault. The story was tight and never really lagged. The one part I didn't care for was Wade basically forgetting about the contest as he falls in love with Artemis. That seemed a stretch to me (since his entire life revolved around the contest), but, maybe Cline writing it that way speaks more to the fact that Wade was disconnected entirely from the real world and suddenly he had someone who truly wanted to know about him, spend time with him, and talk to him, even if it was in a virtual environment. It showed how truly alone he was, which may have been Cline's intention.
Wil Wheaton's narration was pedestrian. He does an okay job, not so bad that it annoyed me, I have heard worse, but he basically uses the same voice for every character. Not sure I can fault him for that, he's not a voice actor/narrator by trade and I've become spoiled by listening to amazing narrators like Michael Kramer, James Marsters, Craig Wasson, and Davina Porter.
Overall, this book is a must listen too!
This book is a nice continuation of the first, and overall, the story that Russell tells is very entertaining. I did feel a little let down in that I kept expecting some huge denouement, and while the story does wrap up nicely, I was expecting the main character to perform some otherwordly feat(s). Russell built him up so much, but maybe that was the point, while everyone around Shuyun expects great things from him, ultimately I feel like he is only looking for enlightenment, which he ultimately finds.
One other thing that I was confused about is the missing scrolls. Maybe I missed it somewhere in the reading, but I don't feel like Russell ever told us where the scrolls went. Did I just miss it? Possibly.
Overall, Alexander's narration was pretty good, although he does have a few voices that just don't work that well (like the one that sounds eerily like Yoda, yikes, it was not good).
This was a very good book. The world that Russell creates is beautiful and intriguing. He "paints" a magnificent landscape with gorgeous settings and characters. The writing is pretty good, although it does seem to slip at times, but not so often that it takes away from the overall story. Russell provides a great mix of action, tension, quiet meditation scenes, war, fighting, and court intrigue that keeps the story fresh and keeps the reader engaged.
One thing I did not like was a story line he introduces very early in the book, and to me seemed like it would be central to the book, but he leaves it behind and only touches on it briefly throughout the rest of the book. Maybe he'll spend more time on it in the second book. Other than that, it's a really good book.
Elijah Alexander does a pretty good job with the narration, however, there is something about his voice that took me quite a while to get used to. He is very breathy and often soft spoken which was very distracting for me at first. Most of his character voices are quite good and distinct, but some are just bad, such as the horrible Yoda type voice he uses for one of the minor characters.
Overall, I'd recommend this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The third book wraps up all the main story lines nicely and like the first two books is fun to listen to. It's not spectacular in any way, but it was a good listen. See my reviews of the first two books for my thoughts on the writing.
As suspected, the second book basically picks up right where the first one inexplicably and suddenly stopped. I truly believe these were written as one book and just chopped up by the publisher into three. This book does add another fun story line and continues the previous story lines from book quite nicely.
My comments from the first book, i.e. writing by committee, turns of phrase, number of languages spoken by the characters, still hold true for this book. (See my review of the first book).
Overall, it's still a fun historical fiction story to listen to and I'm enjoying it. I've already moved straight into book three.
This book could have been so much better, the premise for the book is good and is what initially caught my attention, but I feel that the author tried to do too much with the subject and tried to include too many fantasy/historical elements. The writing is not very polished and doesn't flow very well. He tries to be very grandiose with the writing and language and it just comes off as cheap and awkward. There are also several instances in the book where the author will say something on one page and then contradict himself on the next page, sometimes in the next sentence.
The characters are shallow and one dimensional, they have no depth, and they flip flop from being extremely immature and irrational one minute to being very wise and all knowing the next. There is no character development, we don't see them grow at all, they just inexplicably go from selfish children, ignorant of the world around them, to full grown, mature adults, tasked to save the world from impending doom.
The plot has holes all over the place and there is a lot of deus ex machina. He writes the characters into seemingly impossible scenarios with no way out and all of a sudden they emerge victorious and he explains it away with "magic." It's hokey and fake and not believable at all (yes, this is fantasy writing, but there has to be some believable elements, rooted in what we know, to make it engaging and to help the reader buy in to what the author is selling).
It was all I could do to make it to the end of the book. I will not be listening/reading the next two books in the series when they come out, one book was more than enough for me. I would not recommend this book.
This was a great way to finish the series. I love the way Jordan/Sanderson wrapped everything up, especially at the very end (don't worry, no spoilers). Sanderson is a master writer and his ability to finish this series for Jordan and basically write it in the same style/voice/etc. that Jordan wrote the other books is highly impressive. The only thing that kind of irked me about this book was how long the battle went on. Yes, we know it's the last battle, we know it's horrible, we know people are dying by the thousands, but after a while, the battle seemed to drag on and on. In contrast, Rand's battle with the Dark One was very well written (not that the final battle wasn't), but seemed to be of appropriate length. Overall, great book!
Michael Kramer and Kate Reading's performance was very good in this book, as it was in all the previous books in this series.
Quite possibly the best book in the series since the opening book. Not that the other books were bad, but Jordan seemed to just drone on at times and the story seemed to stagnate at times. Sanderson does a masterful job of writing this book. It "sounds" just like Jordan wrote it, but there were very few places in this book where I felt like I was "nodding off" (as I had done several times before in previous books). Great start to the finale of this wonderful series.
Butcher continues to amaze with this great story and our boy Harry Dresden is bigger and badder than ever. As the Winter Knight (and Mab's play thing), Harry has to battle not only the Winter Knight's Mantle that is trying to take him over, but Mab, Maeve, and seemingly the entire Winter Court. Throw in Outsiders, Demonreach, and oh, Harry trying to deal with all the relationships he had before dying and coming back, Molly, Karrin, and Thomas, and you've got a fast paced roller coaster ride that seemingly will never end as more and more obstacles get thrown in Harry's path.
If there is one problem I have with this book (and it's happened in several of the other Dresden books, though not frequently) is that Butcher seems to continue to pile on Harry's troubles. There is the requisite "issue" Harry is dealing with, and the little subplots that surround it, but then Butcher just keeps adding more and more roadblocks, issues, and problems that seem to stretch Harry beyond his capacity. It just feels, I don't know, like he's making it overly dramatic just for the sake of doing it. It always ends up working out in the end and I do realize that it all has a purpose in moving the story forward. Butcher also does this thing where he puts Harry up against immortals and such that severely outclass him, and Harry even says in the books "there is no way to beat such and such a creature" and yet, in the end, Harry miraculously prevails and finds some loophole. It's a minor gripe, and doesn't take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. This is still an excellent book and great continuation of the series. I can't wait for the next book!
James Marsters narration gets better and better with each book and he does an excellent job reading Cold Days. When I first started listening to this series I wasn't crazy about him, but now, he IS Harry Dresden!
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