The First Law Series (The Blade Itself, Before They Are Hanged, Last Argument of Kings) by Joe Abercrombie is an impressive and remarkable Fantasy series. I review the entire series here. With the proviso that this first book is necessarily incomplete without the others, the following comments apply equally to the first book alone.
The world Abercrombie creates is gritty and realistic and reminiscent of the yet to be completed Song of Fire and Ice series by George R. R. Martin. Politics, torture, warfare and violence play a central role in the narrative. There are no heroes in the story, only deeply flawed individuals who nonetheless assume the the role of protagonist.
Explanation of the world and the true motivations of the secondary characters comes to the reader slowly and continues to the end of the last book. The conclusion, when it comes, is complete (and possibly even too long). Despite the resolution of the series' conflicts and the careful attention to completing story arcs, the ending is far from the cliched heroic triumph of characters living happily ever after.
On reflection the incredible characterisation of the flawed protagonists pose many questions about the nature of good and evil, nobility and the potential of individuals to grow and mature without beating the reader over the head with any 'answers'.
The narrator, Steven Pacey was exceptional in his reading and all of the voice characterisations. His ability to consistently produce identifiable voices (male and female) for the army of speaking roles and use them correctly in the context of the surrounding description was remarkable and added immeasurably to the experience of the story.
Overall, a very high quality series and an exceptional audiobook production.
This is a classic Heinlein science fiction novel about a generation ship transiting the stars, the descendants of whose crew have lost knowledge about their mission or the truth about their world. This is not an original idea but this early book may have been the first to explore it. The protagonist finds out the truth and struggles to convince others, including the power-hungry captain.
The book is fast-paced and easy to listen to. The narration is of good quality. Despite the age of the book there are few scientific or technological faux pas. The end, when it comes, seems sudden and slightly contrived. Still, it was a good and enjoyable read and a great first Heinlein for me!
This is the first Stephen King book I have listened to and I found it very engaging and enjoyable. I have a soft in my heart for apocalyptic story lines and Cell delivers on this score.
I had previously read Stephen King's 'The Stand' in hardcover and was initially worried that like that title the book would take a long time to recount backstory. This was not true of 'Cell' at all and the action starts within a few pages. Nice short chapters means the story keeps a frenetic pace.
My only criticism of the book is the sudden and somewhat inconclusive end.
The narration and character voices by Campbell Scott is uniformly excellent and I will keep an eye out for other titles he has narrated.
This is a solid science fiction title set in a slightly dated near future. Ben Bova has written an interesting story about the first human expedition to Mars that I found quite engaging and addictive. Some of the story elements are now dated (eg. Floppy disks, battlestar galactica approach) but nonetheless the story holds up as realistic and for me, at least, exciting.
I had previously read the title in hardcopy prior to 'reading' it on audible and I think I appreciated it more evenly - throughout the entire book - the second time around. I attribute that to the format - you can not easily scan or skip ahead in an audiobook - but also to the narration of Stefan Rudnicki who kept it interesting. Stefan manages to deal with the many accents passably or at least better than I could.
A very nice read!
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