After waiting for so long to get the next installment in this series I was disappointed to read reviews on Amazon that said this part of the series was a standing still waste of a volume. And I saw a lot of reviews that said that. I'm a huge fan of this series so I got it anyway because I figured GRRM has basically done so well to this point that if this volume dropped in quality it was still probably going to be light years ahead of nearly all other fiction being written these days.
Boy was I wrong and those reviewers right. With the exception of Cercei not much progresses in this volume. Daenerys has become perhaps the weakest character of all in this volume. She has so many opportunities to make her move and regain her throne and whether or not she is successful doesn't matter to me anymore. In fact, I'm beginning to believe that Martin will never have her actually make her move. She is panning out to be a whining child that has no clue that she is nothing more than a weak pawn in foreign politics. Sad because she had become a really interesting character in the way she was able to be basically a cast off widow that by all measures should have been killed that forces her way to the top and become a legitimate force in the world. Now she's reduced to just a sniveling girl that for no reason what so ever doesn't want to go take back her throne. I know, I know, she's worried about all the people she has saved on this side of the world who will be victimized if she leaves, but then that too basically indicates that Martin was a false and unreliable narrator when he made her seem she has the kind of influence and power to leave her conquered cities and take her throne without needing to worry if the freed people could take care of themselves. In earlier volumes Martin would have in fact written that kind of character. Now I'm afraid he doesn't even know what he wants to do with the characters and the story.
Plus, this has become a story that has nothing but completely reprehensible characters. There are so few characters that are remotely likeable anymore that I really had to struggle to get through this. Just because you take a likeable character and brutally kill him or her does not mean that drama and tension is ramping up. It just means you're giving me less and less to like about the story. Especially when all the twisted and evil characters get right to the brink when they should be getting some punishment and then Martin always saves them and pulls them back so they can continue to romp through the story. This is not satisfactory. I've dropped other series because they've gone this same course and I really got close with this volume.
Also, there are so many characters being introduced that the whole story and what is happening is becoming completely muddled. This isn't a story about a civil war and an exiled queen trying to take back her throne. This has become an over indulgent exploration of a bunch of created cultures and their varying politics. I would honestly say that if 50% of the pages in this volume were missing the actual number of pages which advanced the story(ies) was over written by a factor of three.
I'm also different from other reviewers in that the narrator for Feast of Crows was bad. It was a bit of a system shock to hear a different voice but the story was still good enough that it didn't matter. However, when Dotrice started doing this weird, Scottish, Old Lady Troll voice for Dany I really wished the last narrator was back. It was especially odd because Dotrice didn't have her voice that way in the other volumes he read.
In the end this became very difficult to endure. I'll give the next one a go but if I don't see significant progression in the actual story rather than a bunch of (arguably) character development/exploration I will likely turn it off and never come back. That's how far down the quality of this volume came.
If John is truly dead (and I suspect so because there is no way he could have survived) I'm going to be convinced that Martin is really not that great a dramatist. Like I said earlier, if he thinks he's ramping up the drama by having the bad/evil characters constantly killing the good/likeable characters he's way off. All he's doing is making me not care at all about any of the characters. John was my last hope.
So now that I read back through this whole thing I realize I pretty much have no reason to check out the next volume. Not that it matters. It is getting so long between installments Martin will probably die before the next one comes out.
Lynch has done such an amazing job with the first three books in this series. The characters are all excellent and the adventures are engaging and thrilling. The twists and turns are all believable and even though Locke and Jean "prevail" Lynch does a good job of still having them "lose" in some respect. We finally get to meet Sabetha and the reveal is so much better than anticipated. It was only a matter of time before Lynch turned to her part of Locke's life and it comes at just the right time. She is every bit a match for Locke and seeing their relationship, both told through past events and the current timeline, make Locke an even more interesting character. Jean take a bit of a back seat in this book but not by much and he continues to be the rock of all the characters. With Sabetha being equal to Locke in all regards (including her emotional weaknesses for him) it was essential that Jean provide some solid ground and Lynch played it perfectly. I'm just hoping Lynch does not go the direction of George R. R. Martin and write three excellent books in the series and then follow them up with two of the worst ever written books. These are so good I've listened to them twice.
This was a nice side trip to fill in the details of what happened to Ahn-Kha while he was separated from David. It also did a great deal to add even more layers and flavor to the world Knight has created. Rummel does his typically excellent job narrating which really brings the characters to life. Sometimes when a series has characters involved in events that happen outside the narrative it feels like their triumphant return is contrived and too convenient a way for the author to get out of the corner they painted themselves into. Having this book as part of the series helps to demonstrate that Ahn-Kha wasn't just strolling through the hills gathering rebels that ultimately help save the day and it makes his character even deeper than in previous book because for the first time we are actually seeing events through his eyes. Knight does a great job of relating that perspective without it being difficult to follow. Looking forward to more.
This is quite easily one of the best bits of writing I've encountered in the past 10 years. I've been a Ferguson fan for a long time now and had heard mention of his book and finally set out to see what everybody was raving about.
My only regret is not jumping on this sooner.
His story is entertaining as well as enlightening. His experiences are both tragic and inspiring. The fact that he's been able to overcome so much and have such a fiercely positive take on what he's learned and why he values having become and being an American is moving.
He mostly sticks to his life story which is riveting. But towards the end he gives a short personal take on what becoming an American meant to him and what he believes continues to make America the "greatest idea for a country that anybody has come up with so far." Coming just before the end of the book his speech is both unexpected and powerful. It isn't condescending or elitist in the tiniest bit. In fact it is something that I think all Americans should have to read.
I've already told just about everybody I know that if you only read/listen to 1 book in the next 12 months make it "American on Purpose" or you will truly be doing yourself a disservice.
This book was a recommendation from a trusted source and I understood going in that its target audience was more of a YA age range but the movie trailer and book description sunk the hook and I jumped on this one.
I think this book and story are excellent. The characters are very well drawn and everything plays out strongly. Collins has created an interesting take on a future USA. There isn't much that explains exactly how the world got to where it became this new nation and districts but it is not even necessary. It isn't the point of the story. Collins excellently builds conflict and the characters are rich and interesting.
Be warned, this is a dark story on all levels. Collins also doesn't let any of the characters off easy in any situation. Right up to the last page the characters are being emotionally punished. The physical threats in this story are actually less frightening than all the psychological and emotional threats that Collins keeps piling on.
There were a few moments when Katniss's constant suspicions of her own feelings and the motivations of Peeta start to grind a bit but it doesn't last long and I just came to accept that the trait was who she is.
The narrator did a good job with all the voices and making sure they were consistent and all of them distinct.
I'm looking forward to jumping into the next volume.
The information delivered is very good. It is broken into good, concise topics which can easily be listened to in short runs or back to back depending on how much time you have. However, it is very distracting to hear the professor struggling to make it through the lectures. I couldn't tell if he was eating while recording or had too much to drink. At times I had to stop because the sound of some old guy slobbering on his words and burping and sucking on his lips, being pumped directly into my ear, were too much. Also, the strange pauses are distracting. Like I say, the information is good, just be prepared to have audio slobber in your ears to get the info.
I didn't know what to expect but this book was fairly highly rated so I figured "give it a go." I LOVELOVELOVE this series. The story is very interesting, the characters are rich, diverse and unique, the conflict is multilayered and multidirectional. I think 5 stars should be reserved for only truly amazingly great works but 4 stars is not enough. I would prefer to be able to give it 4 1/2 stars. It is that good.
If you find cat and mouse type conflict fun and interesting these books are for you and this one starts it off with a bang.
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