OK, my fault I guess. Obviously I misunderstood. I was hunting through the choices in this genre to find something that's a) well written and b) above all, FINISHED. Well-written it certainly is--I was drawn to the series after having read the pseudonymous James S. A. Corey "Expanse" trilogy, which was a delight and was co-written by Abraham. That science fiction outing, like this fantasy one, contains complex three-dimensional characters, witty moments, moments of genuine pathos, and vivid writing. But I originally chose the Expanse series because it was FINISHED (even though further episodes are threatened, the trilogy stands alone very well). And for some reason I likewise got the impression this series ended on the third book.
I was mistaken.
Look, I understand why publishers LOVE the endless endless endless "Book III of Part Seven of the Third Installment of the Whatever Series" format--the economics are obvious enough. But 9.8 times out of 10 these things either drift off never to be completed, or start running out of imaginative gas the longer they go on, and if they do finally wrap up somehow the longer the series the more ludicrously contrived the conclusion has to be in order to sew up all the plot threads that have been unloosed. It's something that has overtaken the beleaguered publishing industry over the last 20 years or so and while I understand it, I find it highly regrettable. YMMD, of course. Evidently a lot of readers don't mind endlessly stringing along with these things even well after the author has tipped his hand that he has no idea where the whole thing is going and no particular intention of resolving it in any satisfying way. Yes, I'm looking at you George R R Martin.
In any case I was deeply frustrated to come to the end of the third installment of this series only to discover I'd not checked carefully enough and here was another instance of God Only Knows If He'll Ever Finish It And If He Does, God Only Knows If It Will Be Worth The Emotional Investment.
I wished it had been a little more obvious to me that the conclusion is some unknowable number of purchases distant. I enjoyed the writing very much, and based on the Expanse series I hold out some hope, but unless the next one comes clearly labeled as "The thrilling conclusion" I don't think I'm going to download it.
This was extraordinarily well written and it was only many hours into it that it seemed to veer off from a multi-layered time-travel/historical novel into the territory of a bodice-ripper romance. This had so much promise as a concrete, believable realization of another era, an intriguing examination of the difference in mores between 18th C Scotland, 1940s Britain and the present day, which it very much seemed to be for the first 1/4 or so. But then the sex scenes--emphatically plural--started. I'm not a prude, and one such scene would have established the point, ok even two if you have to, but after a while I started to lose count, and after skipping ahead, skipping ahead, and skipping ahead through yet ANOTHER steamy episode that seemed to be in there for no other reason than, well, sex, I had to face that the thing was morphing into a different kind of novel entirely. I'm seriously not a prude, nothing wrong with erotic writing if that's what you're looking for, but it wasn't what *I* was looking for.
If you LIKE a Harlequin Romance, then this will be right up your alley. For me personally that's just not something I care for. A whiff of it was inevitable perhaps, given the setting, but it seemed a terrible error of literary judgment and taste to go veering off into that territory so extensively. Totally lost this reader any way--I've returned it.
I generally like John Lee quite a lot but just as there are few things more annoying than Americans trying on fake British accents, there are very few Brits who can do a tolerable American and he is not among them (even the superlative Patrick Tull falls short in this, if very little else). Peter Hamilton is British, so perhaps that dictated this choice, but given that 90% of the characters are being portrayed as having some form (some completely unidentifiable form) of American accent it was an unfortunate one.
Lee's efforts in this regard are at best grating and at worst absurd to the point of parody. To single out just one example of many, the character of American astronaut Wilson Kime sounds like a parodic William Shatner on a particularly hammy day--think of Zapp Brannigan from Futurama but with twanging vowels that go sproinging off in startling directions and resemble the inflections of no actual American anywhere ever in history. I suppose this stuff sounds "American" to Lee, but to a native speaker it's just weird. (And a newsflash to Brit narrators in general: Not ALL Americans pronounce the letter "R" so hard it bruises your eardrums.)
Some listeners may find this less annoying than I, and in small quantities I can tolerate it, but it when it's this pervasive it really mars the experience of what is quite a decent SF novel.
Hugh Laurie is the exception that proves the rule: Brits shouldn't do "American" (and vice versa).
The description "formulaic but fun" pretty much covers all of Preston & Childs, but that's fine--I don't listen to these expecting to be challenged, just entertained. My one complaint here has to do with the narration. Fine as Rene Auberjenois's work has been in the others of this series I was not put off when I saw that there was a new narrator for this entry, but it was not until I was some "pages" into this one that I began to question my purchase.
Mr Marosz has a very distracting habit of arbitrarily, and so far as I can tell illogically choosing to end some sentences on a rising tone, which I found increasingly annoying as the narrative progressed. Without a printed text in front of you, a rising tone suggests a comma or question mark not a period, so this verbal tic ends up constituting a series of syntactical miscues randomly strewn about the text that the listener has to keep stumbling over. I'm not sure what he imagines it adds to the listening experience--variety maybe?--but I found it irritating at best and at times it actively interfered with comprehension.
Dear Mr Marosz: make life easier on your listeners--when you come to a period, please let your inflection drop like any normal reader would!
Been reading King since he first came along, and frankly his most recent stuff has been, well, not of the best. But this one was a highly original concept and well told. Though if you don't guess within two pages that a certain character is going to get killed off as part of the 'obdurate past' theme, well, you haven't read much King before. Nuff said.
For any audible book this long, the quality of the narrator means a lot. On the whole Mr Wasson was a decent enough companion for such a long haul, but I have to agree with the other commentor(s) who have noticed that he seems to pick the voices for his minor characters from Golden Age Hollywood stars. First one who comes along is Burt Lancaster. Wasn't sure if that was on purpose or not, until later on when John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart showed up. Not a little distracting, but it didn't really take away from the enjoyment of the story.
No one can touch Patrick Tull when it comes to reading Dickens--if you haven't downloaded his version of The Pickwick Papers do it instantly! Having finished the latter I was up for another but was disappointed to find there is only the one Dickens read by him in Audible. Jarvis is not as revelatory as Tull but he is definitely the next best thing. The novel itself is a bit of a tough haul, not only because the subject matter is quite grim but also b/c Dickens is at times experimenting with prose techniques that can be a little hard to follow in the audio format. But it will live with you. Highly recommended.
I'm now in Part 5 of the audiobook and after reading the reviews here to get a sense of whether the ending redeems the unrelentingly depressing slog it's been so far, I am officially GIVING UP. Because apparently the answer is no. I'm at a point where the author is obviously about to slaughter off a whole 'nother set of characters I've finally managed to get interested without answering any of the backstory questions he keeps raising and then wandering away from to do more slaughter, and without at least the hope of a decent ending, pfaaaghh. Forget it.
And an even bigger honking raspberry for the idea that he's going to follow this elephantine tome up with two more before he gets around to trying to wrap it all up. Yeah sure. Just like X-FIles and the aptly named Lost, right?
Somewhere the author has to keep faith enough along the way to reassure you the whole thing isn't going to turn out a mug's game. At least in the case of X-Files and Lost there was some fun along the way. But as the latest carnage-fest starts to unveil itself my doubts have gotten severe enough that I came here looking for reassurance and clearly the answer is no. So, sorry Justin, YOU LOST ME.
Only just started it and I'm enjoying it so far, barring one rather stupendous error of scientific fact right off the bat: yes there is a cool astronomical object in Orion's dagger that's visible with a small telescope, but it's *not* the Andromeda galaxy, which is nowhere near there. Um, there's a *reason* it's called the "Andromeda" galaxy Doug old pal. Hope the rest of your science is a little more on target than that!
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