I really enjoyed "Path of Destruction". I found the story to be compelling and extremely satisfying. The narration and overall production (sounds, music, and voice acting) was exceptional. The characters were captivating and the stories being told from the position of the Sith and the Jedi were expertly done.
Do I have any complaints? I am not sure that I really have any. For me, this book was precisely what I look for when I listen to or read a book... a fun and interesting escape from reality. I thought the book was narrated to near perfection, it was well written, had great action, excellent dialog, and provided amazing production value through and through.
Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs is a cute and snarky vampire book that peeked my curiosity. The book is a standard female turned vampire story in many respects. Yet, the author adds just enough original dialog to set it apart from the rest. The way the author injects humor into the dialog and narration helps keep the book fun and lighthearted. It is written in diary style, from the position of the main character, and could easily be produced into a TV show in terms of form and function. The story, world, and characters all feel a bit constrained and simplistic, but I had a smile on my face at some point during each chapter. It was the consistent smiles that made me want to listen more and brought me to the conclusion that the book was fun, comforting, and silly.
The book started a bit slow and the narration can take some getting used to. I had to stick through a few chapters before I got a feel for the book. At first, I was not sure that it was going to work, but the book just clicked for me after a few chapters (after several new characters were introduced). The narration added personality to the story, but the attempted southern accents can take some getting used to. Some of the voices were funny (Missy comes to mind), but the male voices used by the narrator are far from manly in my opinion. This does not mean the narration was bad, but it helped make the story harder to take seriously and kept the book jovial.
I liked this book and thought it was a fun audible. The best complement I can give Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs is that after listening to the conclusion I immediately purchased the second book.
I found Cold Days to be a fun and engaging book that I am sure Dresden fans will enjoy. Cold Days manages to retain what fans know and love about the Dresden series while adding new powers and responsibilities to shake things up a bit (no longer just fire magic, along with a new boss to answer to). One of the things I enjoyed the most about Cold Days was the introduction of various characters ranging from Christian lore to Grimm's fairy tales. What I found fun about the book was the author's use of magic, compelling dialog, and seemingly unpredictable plot twists. The book ultimately brought so many interesting elements together that I found myself listening for hours at a time.
In terms of narration, James Marsters performs the role of Harry Dresden as if he is the man himself. It really is difficult to explain it any other way. One positive aspect for me is that it feels as though Dresden is reading his tale, rather than a narrator just reading a book. Simply put, James Marsters narration of Cold Days (or the Dresden series in general) personifies the voice of Dresden and makes for a singular audible experience that I always look forward to.
While Cold Days is fun, I believe it remains plagued by common problems that have existed throughout most of the series. One problem in Cold Days in particular is that the main character, Dresden, is routinely ineffective and usually succeeds only by sheer luck. That may be part of the book's charm, but I found that it often made my eyes roll or just frown when I realized his magic was nullified, useless, or he just simply lost a fight/encounter due to his general ineffectiveness. It seems that Dresden routinely relies on allies, or sudden bursts of magic/happenstance, to save him from certain doom just moments before it is too late. There are other questionable points with the Dresden series, including Cold Days, that has often left me with a "this feels phoned in, thrown at a dart board and then written" feeling (quality of writing fluctuates, characters not that likable, narration can come off as sleepy at times).
Even though I have my criticisms, I still believe there is a lot to praise about the stories and world that Jim Butcher has created. When compared to the works of other authors, Cold Days, and the Dresden series as a whole, remains one of the most comforting, entertaining, and unique book series I have had the pleasure to enjoy.
The book "Dynasty of Evil" highlighted how much I really did not want the book or the series to end. When the book and series completed, I wonder if I will ever find a book series this enjoyable again. The book itself was as good as the first two and in some ways even better. The author even managed to address some of my criticisms of the Star Wars universe and found a way to have force powers used directly and indirectly rather than relying on light sabers alone. I liked the introduction of the Dark Jedi concept and the backstabbing between the Sith. The book's ending was also skillfully written and I appreciated the way the author managed to both close the story but also leave it open to the listeners/readers imagination.
This series solidly established me as a fan of quality-produced audio books (sound, music, voice acting) and the Star Wars universe in general. I will definitely be looking forward to audio books of equal quality from here on out.
After "Dynasty of Evil," I would recommend listening/reading Darth Plagueis (sadly, only one book). The book loosely follows many of the same trends introduced in the Darth Bane series and is close in quality.
The "Rule of Two" was amazingly fun and a great listening experience. As a sequel, I was concerned the story would fail to live up to the quality of the first book, Path of Destruction. While different, the book still managed to exceed my expectations. The story throws in some surprises as Bane goes on the hunt for ancient holocrons and begins preparing his new apprentice for her eventual rise to power. The ending introduces additional twists and turns that I found interesting. The narration and production quality are the same as the first book (which I loved) and continue to receive nothing but the highest of praise from me.
If I had to pick a couple of criticisms, one would be that I do not really agree with Bane's ideology of the "rule of two". I find that the Sith, whether they are two or two million, suffer the same backstabbing and power hungry intentions regardless of their numbers. Another criticism would be the lack of force power use and the over reliance of the light saber. These are more issues with the universe as a whole rather than the author since force users create barriers against each other hence the reliance on the sabers. These are comments regarding the lore overall, but are two things that often surface to the top of my thoughts. Although I find myself disappoint by the progression of the Sith to a "rule of two" rule of two ideology and the lore's nullification of force powers, I still found the story, characters, narration and overall enjoyment of the book carried through till the end.
Overall, an exceptional tale with fun twists and turns that delighted me every step of the way.
When I listen to a book by Jack Campbell, I rarely feel compelled to hit the pause button. Tarnished Knight was no exception. Following the Syndicate defeat at the hands of Black Jack and the Alliance, the book is focused on the Midway star system and two former Syndic CEO's who have decided to create a new independent government. The author does a great job with the pacing, focusing on not just the politics but also on action both on the ground and in space. I especially enjoyed the battle preparation sequences and the battles themselves since they held my attention so effectively.
The narration was passable but was perhaps the most questionable point of the experience. The narration of the inner dialog of the CEO's gave me pause, as did some of the voices chosen for the various characters. Thankfully, the voices were not offensive and the inner dialog was rare. The rest of the narration got the job done, but definitely left me asking "why this guy?" at times. I felt the monotone and passionless narration helped highlight flaws in the writing that may have been less obvious if a more suitable narrator read the story.
Despite my concerns over the narration, Tarnished Night by Jack Campbell kept me captivated and in a good mood as I listened. When the book was completed, all I could think was "when can I buy the next book?"
I found Fatal Alliance a joy to listen to. I especially appreciated the author's combination of characters, combat, and modern science fiction tropes that helped create a fascinating tale. For me, the inclusion of the Jedi and Sith masters and the story surrounding them was an unexpected highlight of the book. The book was full of great moments, interesting characters, and intriguing story arcs throughout.
Notable Points: The author did such an great job with the Mandalorian. The character was a great addition and helped keep the action moving. I also enjoyed the Sith arc and was impressed with the way the author portrayed the Master/apprentice relationship. The Jedi/Commando/Smuggler story arc was also a breath of fresh air that allowed for some entertaining interactions. A surprise came from my interest in the story of the imperial spy and the additional dynamic his tale brought to the story. The author's ability to combine so many interesting characters, in addition to a great storyline, was an experience I didn't expect from a Star Wars novel.
Questionable Points: As the book approached the end, there is a moment when the Sith meets the source of the android threat. The interaction of the Sith, the source of the android threat, and the Sith's master was written well but felt a bit generic. This portion did not take up much time overall, but was a main plot point and could have been handled with the same unique care other plot points in the book were given. This was pretty much my only disappointment, but only because it was a tad predictable/traditional in execution.
Fatal Alliance is a excellent example of what a great science fiction book should be and a wonderful piece of storytelling.
Enjoyable, Curious, and Abrupt
Revan was the best character overall. The Sith protagonist, Lord Scourge, was also well delivered, but my curiosity kept drifting to the light side/dark side duality or Revan. I should note that the author did a excellent job with all the characters. I only wish the author spent more time devoted to Revan's story and abilities.
Marc Thompson brought exceptional voice acting and emotion to the story. He was simply invaluable and a delight to listen to.
Anger, excitement, redemption, confusion, and grumpy face. I was mad, almost angry, at the way the author seemingly disposed of the Revan storyline (after his capture). Yet, I still found myself excited to learn more about the back story behind the Emperor and Scourge. The author's ability to include interesting details and characters redeemed the book as I continued to look forward to each new chapter. However, the redeeming qualities did not dissuade my shock by how abrupt the ending was or why Revan was made so apparently ineffectual throughout. The epilogue also gave me a grumpy face and seemed overly forced, almost as if the author was instructed to write something to give the abrupt ending a conclusion.In short, my emotions spanned the gambit by the end.
The production on this book was fantastic. Lightsaber sounds, music, explosions... everything. I kept waiting for the book to show me the use of the force in unique and captivating way (the Emperor story line touched on that). Yet, in the end, this book did not do that. Revan was not used well from a user of the force perspective and the story was left to other methods to entertain the reader/listener. I ultimately finished the book wishing Revan got to play with his powers in a awe-inspiring way that would have come across more satisfying/substantial. The inclusion of the Emperor was a treat and his back story did not disappoint. In the end, the book was a fun to listen to, well written, and gave me a lot of interesting concepts to consider.
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