Possibly the best sci fi novel I've ever listened to. Terrific story, well paced, and narrated with just the right style. I'd read Hamilton's Nights Dawn trilogy, and liked it but thought it was a bit too dark for my taste. Great North Road is just as well written, probably better, but has a more optimistic tone than Nights Dawn.
I'd read another review that said that the book was too long. I disagree. I wish this book were twice as long, so I could listen to another 25 hours!
Card has created a whole new world here, and it's fascinating. If you liked Ender's Game and don't mind a bit of fantasy mixed in with your sci-fi, check this out.
Sorry, but I can't recommend this to a beginner trying to learn Chinese. On the positive side, the two teachers (one American, one Chinese) are fun to listen to when they're chatting about Chinese culture. But the language instruction, which is only 20% or so of the tapes, is pretty poor. It's not something you can listen to in the car, because the instructors don't lead you through a learning process. They just say the words once or twice, and that's it. If you're just starting out and looking for something to listen to in the car, jogging or whatever, check out YoYo Chinese instead.
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