This was a very entertaining listen from beginning to end. Definitely my favorite Baldacci novel so far. The premise promises a story that is big, tense, and action-packed, and the story definitely delivers. Despite a predictable and disappointing turn at the end, the story is for the most part satisfying. The depictions of life for North Koreans is poignant and moving, especially for those in the labor camps. And seeing the main characters bring the smack down onto a gang of white supremacists if extremely gratifying and left me pumped. Baldacci took a lot of effort to build up an essential new character in the story, and I think it paid off in delivering a believable, thoroughly entertaining story. It takes a lot of creativity to write this kind of super agent thriller novel and make not feel like it's been done many times before, and I think for the most part the book succeeds. If you're a fan of the genre I'd definitely say it's worth checking out.
Three touching and memorable stories comprise this volume of holiday classics, narrated superbly by some of Audible's best narrators. Though short, it was a very entertaining listen, as each story kept me interested and really transcended its historical time frame. Definitely a worthwhile listen.
Not a bad short story for Sanderson; in fact, this might be his best short story so far. It was great to have an extra little episode so soon after finishing "Steelheart". This is a great bridge to the next novel, and leaves me eagerly awaiting "Firefight". You can't go wrong with this one.
Now THIS is the John Puller tale we've been waiting for! Ever since the debut of this new character series, we've been promised some kind of resolution to the mystery of why Puller's brother was serving life in prison for treason. Now finally those questions are answered in what is arguably the high point of the series.
Of Baldacci's two new characters, I had preferred Will Robie ("The Innocent", "The Hit", etc) up until now. But with this story the character of Puller definitely comes to life as he embarks on an emotional as well as physical quest to discover the truth.
This book aims big, with a very well thought out and complex plot that will keep you listening right up until the end. And although with such an ambitious story it can be hard to pull off a satisfying conclusion, this one does a decent job of it.
For any fans of mysteries and thrillers I would say this one is a definite must-read. It stands on its own well enough that you don't have to have read the other two books in the series - although they will definitely help set the stage for the main characters.
First of all I appreciate Audible.com offering this as a free listen during this Christmas season! Not only that but it was timely with the big fame of Disney's "Frozen" all this year. While the stories are only loosely tied together, I was able to see a few elements here and there that appeared to have been borrowed from.
While I'm not a big fan of this kind of writing or storytelling, it was very well done and performed.
I'm a fan of Jack Campbell, having listened to or read all of his "Lost Fleet" series, so I was excited to learn that he was trying his hand at fantasy. Some great authors have been writing across genres or even multi-genre, combining sci fi and fantasy. This one is more like a combination of fantasy and steampunk.
I'm not sure if it's just me missing something, but I didn't realize this was a YA novel going in. However, within a few minutes of listening I could tell that it was. There's nothing wrong with that, just realize that there's a lot of time spent on teens sorting through their feelings and wondering about relationships and talking about relationships. I haven't been out of my teens for so long that I forgot what it was like - and I don't remember worrying about these things as much as these kids seem to. But that could be just from Campbell's first time writing not only YA but a fantasy as well.
As for the book, I would say that it's a satisfying and somewhat refreshing tale. However it is highly character focused, which Campbell mostly does anyway (the "Lost Fleet" series really just has one viewpoint character, where this one has two). However unlike a lot of fantasy we don't get tons of worldbuilding, and we really don't know anything about this world's history or why there are mages or mechanics and WHY they don't like each other. That is one of the novel's biggest weaknesses.
So in closing this is definitely not epic fantasy, because I believe one of the definitions of that is a larger scope, as well as a larger amount of viewpoint characters. Still, it's an enjoyable tale in and of itself, with some interestingly original concepts as far as the mages and mechanics go. However I'm not sure if I would continue this series as it just doesn't have the depth and complexity that I've grown used to.
I was pleasantly surprised to get this as a free audiobook from Audible. As usual Sanderson impresses with his concepts, and this is a very cool and interesting character that I could easily see a whole series following. This book reads as though it's a condensed version of a larger novel, though it definitely has enough detail and doesn't feel overly rushed. It might be hard to turn out a larger book with this character without going more in-depth with some of the concepts and hallucinations, but for a novella it's just right. It also has a cool ending, which Sanderson as usual pulls off with style. The main plot's concept was a little wonky, but overall it was an enjoyable listen.
Those words, written across the book's back cover, epitomize the events that transpire in this seventh volume of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Continuing and concluding the storyline begun in Midnight Tides and continued in The Bonehunters, this book brings a climactic conclusion that brings resolution to so many open threads, bringing down justice on so many who deserve it, and generally giving us a satisfying moment of reprieve before the last push to the end.
I always say this, but the sheer scale of the storyline in this book is almost beyond believe. It puts other "epic" fantasies to shame, as there can really be no serious comparison to this series. The storyline in this novel begins over a hundred thousand years in the past, and despite that unimaginable scale Erikson is able to make you feel like it really has been that much time that has transpired. When I look back at the thousands of pages since the story of the Sengars and the Tiste Edur began, and the betraying of Silchas Ruin by Scabandari Bloodeye, and so many other things, it's awe-inspiring. Certainly this is what epic fantasy really should be. Absolutely unforgettable.
And there are many reckonings in this book. This is ultra-violent, no-holds-barred storytelling, chock full of political machinations and bloody war. There are several stand-out fights, especially involving Quick Ben, Fiddler and Hedge. And of course, Karsa Orlong continues to kick more ass in this novel, making me beam with pride at who has become probably my favorite character in the series.
Yet there's a lot of tragedy here, too - which you must surely expect by now. A few key deaths are going to be hard to take; I know they were for me. It's things like that which don't sit very well with me in the end, especially when so many of them could be avoided to the point where you can see the author's hand and it feels a bit contrived. Yet the ending is pure Erikson awesomeness as usual. My only complaint is, as usual, that I didn't get as much "screen time" with the major characters and major players of the book. As typical, Erikson introduces new minor characters and spends a lot of time with them and with the front-line grunts of the army. I don't know if part of this reason is if he didn't feel comfortable or confident enough to write the harder characters, as ancient as many of them are. Certainly we haven't seen Anomander Rake since book 3 and that just baffles me. But at any rate, this book series still deserves to be on any epic fantasy reader's bookshelf.
I was attending Orson Scott Card's Writing Workshop this year when I heard him mentioning how difficult it was for him to wrap up writing this book. He knew he had a real gem on his hands; this is easily his most ambitious series since Ender's Game. Seems that he truly thought this was one of his best, but he had only one, BIG problem: he had no idea how to end the story.
I was a bit shocked to hear this. The Pathfinder series is easily my favorite of his since the original Ender's Game. Yet as creative as this project was - and he had written a killer beginning and a good middle - he had been working on the project without actually knowing how it was all going to turn out. This process is typically known as free-writing, or letting the story tell itself as you write and lose yourself within it. However, the style has its drawbacks, one of which is that endings can be kind of weak and unsatisfying.
Then, at the workshop, Scott said that he had recently had an epiphany of sorts and that he finally knew how to end it up. He then proceeded to finish this novel while his students were working on the rough drafts of their assignment stories. This greatly relieved me, who had been waiting for this novel with much anticipation for the last couple of years.
Ultimately, this novel pulls off the ending that it promised. But boy, does it go in a lot of unexpected directions on the way there! At times, I felt like I could see where Card had struggled. The story itself meanders in places, seeming to get lost within itself. It goes off on tangents and I can't seem to figure out WHY Card even wrote those parts, or left them in the final novel.
But though there are frustrations at times, but in the end I feel it deserves 4 stars. Let me tell you that this book crams a LOT into its pages. This story goes way, way far away from its humble fantasy novel roots that were begun in "Pathfinder". There are tons of philosophical examples and conversations that are typical Card. There were a couple of story arcs that weren't that interesting to me. But I have to commend Card for being able to pull this one off. I really enjoyed the characters, most of which felt so alive to me that I know I'll remember them for a long time. It's actually kind of sad to see this series end. I could see it continuing on much further from here.
I would definitely recommend this series to any Card fans, even if you've just read Ender's Game. This remains my favorite series of his right beside the title that gave him his fame.
This book pupped up on Audible's sale list at just the right moment for me. I had just had a meeting with an agency where I was pitching my company to them. I just wish I had listened to this book before going! I was really intrigued by the system presented here. Logically it seems like it would really work. I am looking forward to trying some of these techniques next time, although I'm sure it will take LOTS of practice.
I like the guy's energy and way of doing business. However I don't like the way he tries to take everything back to the theory of evolution. This isn't a time to preach your beliefs on me; you don't have to explain WHY you think that your system works, based on someone's neuroscientific theories. Just tell me that's HOW the brain works and don't distract me with all the supposed background information. That's violating the very methods he's teaching.
But anyway, I am interested to see how the results of using this technique will turn out.
Like some other readers have mentioned, I probably should have read these books when I was growing up, because I think I would have enjoyed them a lot more back then. The story would have felt newer, and I could probably have handled the motley cast of characters better. Sadly I missed that chance, and now listening to this story as an adult no longer carries the same kind of feeling it might have.
Reading this book is much like watching someone else play D&D on pencil and paper. Especially early on you can almost envision the players making their hit rolls or doing a perception check. Plus, you're just kind of dumped into the story with the beginning of a generic quest with a bunch of generic elements instigated by a very generic magical staff. Right from the beginning we're introduced to a whole cast of characters, and it is immediately hard to keep up with who is who. That's a shame, because the story could have been so much better. I think that the Death Gate Cycle by the same authors is hands down better than this in every way, and the fact that this was published around 10 years earlier definitely shows in the writing strength.
It's too bad, because I really wanted to like this series (I bought all 4 books in paperback already) because there are definitely some interesting characters and world elements here. It's just the execution was weak; the characters mostly feel shallow or one-dimensional, and a lot of the quests and things are far too generic and should have been avoided. I would have liked to see a lot more character development and some rich detailing of the world, rather than dungeon crawling and questing. I understand that this was to help launch a whole new D&D world and campaign setting but all the more reason to create a sophisticated, intelligent story. In short, I was hoping for epic fantasy, and what I got was basically swords and sorcery.
One interesting thing about this series is the cameo of the old wizard Nezbin, I believe his name is. He bears a striking resemblance to the similarly-named Zifnab in the Death Gate Cycle, and I highly doubt this is coincidence as he has an identical personality. That was kind of a fun touch, linking their worlds like that.
The narrator of these books was not that great. I never liked his voice and don't think he executed a lot of it very well. Intonation and delivery just felt off and amateurish at times. Sorry to be a harsh critic about that but a really great narrator can make up for a lot in a story. Sadly this one dragged it down a star or so.
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