I enjoyed this book and its sequel. Russel could have easily split this book into two or three--but instead creates a great semi-epic work. This is good writing, with an interesting plot that keeps you reading. However, if you are looking for a non-stop action ride this isn't your book.
It has the setting and plot for a 'coming of age' epic adventure, but Russell clearly didn't want to write that kind of book. The main character has the mysterious strength/ability/power and the setting is a multi-layered epic struggle of the characters' personal beliefs, set under the larger struggle between political families/entities, set under the larger epic struggle between nations/peoples, again set under the still larger struggle of ideologies/religions. While at first the setting leads you expect a coming of age story of a mystical warrior--the coming of age is really about the spiritual identity of the character and the nature of his reality--not his physical abilities (although that is developed in the book, too).
There is action in this series (wars, assassinations, fights, kick-boxing tournament, etc.), but they are almost downplayed at times. For instance, the central character competes in a kickboxing tournament, fighting something like a half-dozen matches, but Russell skims over almost all physical the action as if it is entirely irrelevant until the last match.
While I do enjoy a true action packed epic--this was a well written and enjoyable book. As was its sequel.
The narrator is fine. However, he's one of those narrators which would do best by simply reading the book and not trying to push his voice into a variety of characters. His effort to do so is a little comical at times--two of the minor characters' voices are just silly. One is a bad Yoda impression and the other is straight out of good fellas (odd in this feudal Asian society). Luckily these characters have minor roles, so it doesn't get annoying.
I've always been impressed by Kay's writing. This was a very interesting idea with some real potential. Yet, towards the end I wasn't able to stay under its spell- and I lost my ability to suspend my disbelief regarding the evolution of some of the characters.
Really enjoyed this one. Some of the characters really came into their own and the relationships and storyline became more compelling.
While not as mind-blowingly good as the first book, with a bit more rambling, less focused story-telling this book was nonetheless an enjoyable read well worth the credit.
The reviews seemed pretty positive, from readers with similar tastes, so I gave it a try.
In fact I gave it three separate tries.
I guess its just not my cup of tea.
Neither the plot or the characters captured me.
At the risk of being obnoxious, I'd say this book "jumped the shark" about half way through.
It started as a well-written and interesting urban psuedo-fantasy mystery. I was curious about what was hidden behind the strange occurrences and was drawn along with the characters.
However, as the mystery was revealed, it got odder and odder. Eventually it stretched my ability to suspend my disbelief. Not necessarily because the circumstance became so surreal (and they did) but because the characters, for the most part, took it all so well--as if it were just another challenge to overcome.
All in all it kept me entertained, but I'll think twice before buying another book from this author.
I enjoyed, but wasn't blown away by this book. There were some interesting concepts bantered about by the main character, but nothing too profound or meaningful was every truly developed. Story line was run of the mill. But the writing was pretty good.
That's the Sanderson I've been waiting for!!!
Picks up the storyline and expands on it.
A couple parts felt a little bit cheezy (ala Stealheart and not Way of Kings), but not too bad.
Nothing to write home to mother about. But an enjoyable fantasy story set in a feudal Japanese society.
I liked it and may look for sequels.
This book took me by surprise. Both in how much I enjoyed it and in how diverse it felt in plot and story-telling.
It starts in the near future in a sort-of FBI pseudo mystery- setting, mildly calling to mind The X-Files (a character even directly references it). This section had some very brutal and sad events that made me consider putting the book down, but I'm glad I didn't
The story later shifts into a few very different mid-apocalyptic narrative (some personal narratives) that is very imaginative and empathetic.
Then it shifts again into a post-apocalyptic community survival story.
Yet, it is all very purposeful and interconnected. The need for the great span of time and the diversity of POV becomes apparent as the story progresses.
Given its length and shifting story-lines, Mr. Cronin could have easily broken this up into more than one book. I greatly respect that he didn't and I think it made for a better story.
I'm already onto the next book in the series and enjoying it.
The book was a bit of a roller coaster for me.
For the 1st half or so I was interested but not truly captured by the story. Then it hooked me hard. But then I thought the story/plot was becoming predictable and too "safe." Then it went a whole new direction--which surprised me (and I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but it was interesting).
Another review compared it to Game of Thrones, while I see the comparison--mostly due to the multiple first person point of views and the divergent and re-convergent story lines--it has a very different feel. Enjoyable, but without the same sense of gritty "realism" for the characters, except for some distinct segments. There is a similar story arc regarding the diaspora of siblings from a family destroyed by political/military conflict set to a background of layered personal, political, and mythological conflict. There is also a similar "forgotten" history of a dark and mysterious foreign threat looming behind the story-line in the first book--waiting to be developed, I presume, in the following books.
And there are some interesting and some what unique ideas here and some great potential for an intriguing epic story.
In short: I liked it and I'm going on to the next book. It isn't yet one of my favorites, but I could see it becoming one of them if the series continues on its current trajectory.
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