I am very pleased to say that this is the first book in the series to live up to the hype. I found myself listening to the book even when I wasn't at the gym or driving, which is a good indicator of a book that draws you into the story.
I think the main factor that made this book worthwhile was the stories of the supporting characters. The intrigues at the Palace kept me wanting to find out more, and I think that Verna and Warren, as well as many of the supporting characters, show far more depth than we've seen in previous books.
Ann, Nathan and Zed's plot line was also fun to follow, and this is the first book where I really began to like Zed (I think the poor narration in the first book gave me a dislike for his character). I think that Nathan might prove to be a very interesting character as well, if he's given the right plot lines.
Even Richard's plotline was interesting, as in this book they finally appear to make consequences for some of the more idiotic things he does (although in the end it ended up being the perfect thing for him to do, but for a while they seemed to be slightly more realistic with him).
One of the best advancements in this book was the villains. The sisters of the dark's plotline kept me intrigued, and I couldn't wait to get more details on the Emperor (what powers did he have, what supporting characters did he have on his side), as well as the BoTF plotline.
My only hope is that the rest of the series is like this one, and not like the first two. If so then my faith in TG will be restored, as it was nearly destroyed by the first two books.
One note; did I hear correct? Ann's horse was named Bella? And TG says he never read WoT!
Like all WOT fans I was very happy to hear that they would continue the series after Jordan passed, but I was also nervous that the new author would not be true to the characters that I have grown to love and hate. When Sanderson was announced as the author I picked up the Mistborn series and I really enjoyed it, but I was still nervous that it would not be the same.
I am very pleased to say that this book was not only great; it was one of the better books in the series. He truly captured the characters and the world, plus having the same readers really leant to the continuity of the series. I am very impressed.
He did switch between characters more often than RJ did, which took some getting used to, but in some ways this was a positive, as it created a faster paced book that wrapped up some major and minor story arcs. I have been intrigued by Verin and was glad with the direction they went with her.
The only character that I did not feel was quite captured was Matt. It seemed like most of the humor came from the supporting characters, and it did not quite feel like the Matt who became my favorite character a few books ago, but it was close enough. The other characters felt spot on, so great job in general on that.
Phenomenal job, definately worth 5 stars. I cannot wait for the next book and am glad to see it in such capable hands.
As many others have mentioned, the narration in this book is horrible. The narrator tries to be more theatric, but unfortunately no one in the production staff bothered to tell him how any of the names/cities are pronounced in every other book in the series, plus some of the voices are overly annoying. The production staff for this entire series should have been fired. The idea of changing narrators with every book really takes away from the series, although it wouldn't be as bad if they were at least consistent in their character portrayals. The writing in this one for the most part is slipping back into the mediocre stile of the first two books. The one saving grace in this book is Nathans character, who makes a far better main character and Lord Raul than Richard does. If only they had let him take over the series may have been saved.
I am currently finishing book 9 of 11 and I am disappointed to say that it only gets worse from here. Each book had a new set of characters/villains that are created only to be killed at the end of each book, with little to no advancement of the main plot. In addition to this, he becomes so preachy as the books go on that it is hard to listen, even if you agree with what he is preaching about. I have tried my hardest to like this series, but it now seems like a train wreck. I know that I should look away, but I just have to keep looking to see what happens. I will finish the series, but not because it was worth reading, but because I have already wasted too much of my life on it not to. If you are just evaluating whether to read this series, I recommend looking elsewhere. Go with Martin or Jordan, as they can actually write.
I'll start by saying that the narration does seem better than in the first book. The writing has also become much better, mainly in the fact that he has finally begun creating a world, as opposed to the random seeming locations in the first book.
While this was much better, there were still some flaws. The first is that I can still sum up most of the story by the following: Richard does something idiotic, it ends up being the exact thing he needed to do, everyone tells him how great he is. I thought with the introduction of the sisters that this would change, but it does not.
Next, one reviewer said that it is unfair to compare this series to Jordan's WoT (which had 5 books complete when this series started), but how can you not. Nearly every new character type is directly taken from Jordan. Sisters of the Dark=Black Ajah, Blood of the Fold = Whitecloaks, Aes Sedai=Confessors (1st book) & Sisters (2nd book), both even having novices and sisters, long lives and live on an island, Darken Rahl=Ishmael, Mord Sith=Sul'dam (first book) & Maidens (second book on), Pebble in the pond=Ta'Veren, etc., etc.
I'll admit that most authors borrow from others, and even Jordan took from LoTR and Dune, but he took basic principles and character sets and built from them. Goodkind takes nearly every concept from WoT and just changes the name (with Blademasters he did't even do that). As I'm hungry for more epic fantasy I could be fine with this, but the main issue is that, unlike WoT, LoTR, SoI&F etc., in this series you don't care about the main character. As of book 2 there is no character that I really couldn't wait to hear about. Richard's arrogant, Kahlan is boring and neither have any depth. The depth of the characters is what makes reading 100 pages of description setting up a single scene worthwhile. With boring characters it becomes a chore.
I'm on book 3 now, and I really hope that it continues to improve.
Let me start by saying how glad I am that Audible finally got this series.
That being said I was very disappointed for many reasons. The largest flaw is the narrator. He begins the book sounding like a slightly more human version of Stephen Hawking's simulated voice, over pronouncing every syllable of every word in a monotone fashion. Then when he begins doing the voices of the characters you quickly find that he has only three voices that he uses for all characters.
Next there is the story itself. If you love fantasy novels you will definitely enjoy this book. However, I went into it looking for epic fantasy, and this is where I was very disappointed. In Robert Jordan's books it took numerous books for the characters to learn to use a sword or harness their powers, but in here the main character instantly knows how to slay the toughest enemies with his sword, even though the story never mentions him training with a sword before that I can recall (it mentions him carrying a knife for protection), and he harnesses the swords abilities, at least to some extent, right from the beginning with no real training (I think the story mentions him feeling as though something awakened within him).
There was also so many times in the book when they just happened to run into a stranger that helped them or gave them the exact magic item they needed that it made the story unbelievable, which is normal for traditional fantasy novels (like the Shanara series, which I did enjoy), but in epic fantast I look for more. In George R R Martin's books if something seems like it's too good to be true, it usually is, and every character you run into has just as much chance of trying to kill you as help you. In this book every character was placed there for the direct purpose of progressing the story.
To recap, if you are looking for traditional fantasy, only longer, then this is a great book, just don't go into it expecting great epic fantasy.
The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita is an excellent read for anyone trying to understand more deeply the Bhagavad Gita and Hindu teachings in general. The elaborate explanations of each passage help one to understand not only the original context of the script, but how it compares with other scriptures (i..e. the New Testament) and how it can be applied in daily life. While the text is not quite as elaborate as the original translation done by Paramahansa Yogananda (published by SRF in hardcover only), it seems to contain the essence of Yogananda’s translation and, as this is the only version of Yogananda’s translation in audio format, it is a definite must read. If you were intrigued by “Autobiography of a Yogi” this is definitely a great next read. I am glad that Swami Kriyananda and Ananda’s publishing team at “Crystal Clarity Publishers” are bringing so many great works to Audible. A note on the book; this can be somewhat more deep than Autobiography so it is not a book you can simply zone out to while doing other tasks. While there was a bit of repetition on key points, it can be very easy to miss a valuable topic if you are distracted. All in all it was an excellent read, well worth the credit. I am already placing an order for another of Swami Kriyananda’s books.
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