Wow. George R. R. Martin has renewed my faith in the Fantasy genre. I enjoyed this book so much I was pulling my hair out waiting for the month to end so I could download the next 2 books in the series. The writing is excellent. The dialogue is wonderful. The setting is dark, intriguing and original. The narrator, an experienced actor, is exceptional and he easily allowed me to immerse myself in the story. The only thing that I fear would turn people off from this book is the intense violence and certain taboo situations--but such things are expected in a more gritty, realistic medieval setting. So if you prefer your fantasy novels rated PG, than A Game Of Thrones is not for you. Also, those of you who expect all of their fantasy novels to end with shiny, happy people holding hands can just stop reading now and find another book. R.R. Martin isn't afraid to kill characters. So if you're not already squeamish by what I've said above, then read this book. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll shake your fists into the air and seethe with rage. I have found my new favorite fantasy author, and his name is George R. R. Martin.
Fantastic. Everything from the writing to the cast performances (Scott Brick is superb,) is top shelf stuff. Ender's Game isn't an epic story with deep themes running through it; on the contrary, the themes presented are actually fairly familiar and easy to grasp. But the combination of Card's writing skill and Brick's narration are such that you feel a great empathy with Ender, and recognize things in Ender--doubts, fears, loves--that everyone can, in some degree, recognize in themselves. Ender's Game is akin to watching an Olympic high diver perform a flawless, medal winning dive: The experience is short, and there's not a lot to what you are watching, but what you do see for that brief moment is beautiful and the masterful skill of the diver is obvious and much appreciated. As such, Ender's Game is very easy to applaud.
Redwall is definitely a book for the young or the young at heart, with a story and presentation of a quality on par with the recent action-oriented Disney animated films. The narrator does a great job and most of the full cast performance was excellent, though there were a few accents I did not care for--namely the irritating, stereotypical asian voices of the sparrows. Portions of the dialog were trite and some characters were a bit too cheesy, but for a story such as this with a possible younger audience, it was excusable. The biggest fault for me was the pace of the book; it was rather slow and I didn't find any real tension in the story until the last two hours. But overall, it was a solid read with no real glaring faults. There were memorable characters like Basil Staghare (wot wot!) and Cluny The Scourge, who I found hillarious when he was berating his troops and there were definitely some other funny moments (like when Matthias meets the Guerilla Union of Shrews in Mossflower, which seemed like something out of a Monty Python skit.) I was surprised to see death and war addressed in the book, though neither of which was dwelt on for any length of time and violence is no worse than a PG rating. Redwall is essentially a traditional hero's tale, and as such offers no real surprises or plot twists, but it remains a charming read nonetheless.
Once again, George R. R. Martin delivers a fantastic read in this, the third book in A Song of Ice and Fire, and it's better than the first two. For those critics that like to complain about Martin's tendency to heap insurmountable troubles and tragedies upon his heroes and heroines, well...they won't be dissapointed! Martin gleefully takes the reader on a roller coaster ride full of both happiness and sorrow (albeit much more of the latter than the former,) and it will leave you exhausted but exhillarated at the end. The writing is as compelling and powerful as ever. Roy Dutrice is a pleasure to listen to as always--the man is a wizard with all his voices and accents; he does a better job of suspending my disbelief than some of the full-cast audiobooks I have listened to. Even with characters dropping like flies (which is skillfuly balanced by having such a numerous and colorful array of characters) many plot issues are resolved, some are put on hold for the next book, and more than a few new twists will keep readers wringing their hands for the next installment. It brings me great sorrow to know that this is the last audiobook to date in the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series, and it would be a travesty if Audible doesn't get their hands on the next book (entitled A Feast For Crows.) Now I have to subject myself to little spurts of cloyingly melodramatic drivel from lesser authors and lesser narrators. Sigh. The dispair is almost enough for a longtime fantasy reader to take The Black (so to speak) and not listen to another non-George R.R. Martin audiobook, ever.
George R. R. Martin continues his epic tale filled with greed, passion, intrigue, and war. If you are a veteran of A Game Of Thrones then you'll have learned to expect the unexpected; surprising plot twists and turns and a sort of literary brutality with the fates of his characters put Martin well above the fluff-writing fantasy authors infesting bookshelves today. You'll go through the full gamut of emotions before you're done and, tired and weary, you'll be left wanting more. The narration by Roy Dutrice is phenomenal--his myriad voices and accents and seasoned, gruff voice is perfect for Martin's grim, realistic writing. Now, there are many people who don't like Martin's penchant for making the "good" characters suffer for their ignorance and lack of ruthlessness. There are many people who don't like Martin's realistic take on villians and how bad people with lots of power can do really bad things. There are many people who don't like seeing the characters that they've invested their emotions in get killed or have worse happen to them (yes, worse.) If you are one of these people. then go read something else that will fill your hearts with kittens and butterflies and chocolate chip ice cream. To everyone else: Strap yourselves down because you're in for one heck of a ride.
This was a fun read (or rather, a fun listen.) The writing style is refreshing, the dialogue is great and the characters are interesting. There are plenty of funny moments in the book and except for a single, somewhat slow scene, the story is well-paced and exciting. Also, if you're an avid online-video game player (or MMORPG player, to those in the know,) you'll appreciate Snow Crash's Metaverse, which is very simmilar to an existing online game called Second Life which shares the same basic building and land ownership features, as well as complete avatar customization. There wasn't a lot in the way of character development or relationships but overall, Snow crash was an entertaining book worth the purchase.
While not the first author to borrow heavily from Tolkien, Terry Brooks is the first author that I've read that makes it too obvious with Sword of Shannara. The parallels between Sword of Shannara and the Lord of the Rings trilogy are numerous and at times, almost embarassing. Besides Menion Leah and Panamon Creel I didn't find any of the characters very interesting, and none of them were endearing. The narration is great...nothing wrong in that department. But overall, the book proved little else than a lengthy and fairly tolerable distraction--which, I suppose, does have its uses.
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