The duo of authors that are "James S. A. Corey" (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) continue their excellent space opera with Caliban's War, which picks up shortly after the events of Leviathan Wakes. The solar system is still a powder keg waiting to explode and James Holden & crew once again find themselves in the thick of it. Earth, Mars, and the Outer Planets still don't get along and the threat of the Protomolecule on Venus only divides the factions further.
Jefferson Mays does another excellent narration so if you listened to the first book then you will feel like you are back among old friends. Amos is as entertaining as ever, and some new favorites are introduced including Avasarala, a sharp-tongued earth politician, and Roberta Draper, a career Martian Soldier who finds herself unsure which side she is on in the brewing war. Although it takes a little while to come up to speed on the new characters it all comes together nicely before the end.
If you haven't listened to the first book then I would highly recommend you do so before starting on this one. This book is as good as the first and the ending will leave you eager to find out what happens next so it makes for an excellent middle book of a trilogy.
My experience with the Riyria books started with Theft of Swords and proceeded forward in publishing order, which means I finished the Riyria Revelations series before starting on the prequel stories of the Riyria Chronicles. I believe such a path increased my enjoyment of The Rose and the Thorn simply because of the knowledge I have regarding a lot of the main characters. Arista, Gwen, Reuben Hilfred, and even Percy Braga are fleshed out in this book and I really enjoyed learning more about them. This is a prequel story done right.
Unlike the Crown Tower, the time Royce and Hadrian have a more established relationship which allows Michael J Sullivan to really bring to life the world around them. This approach combined with a compelling story line makes this book as good as the latter works of The Riyria Revelation series. It also reveals the root causes for certain events that will happen much later in the series so MJS is working his magic in both directions making both Chronological and Publishing viable listening orders.
Either way you can't go wrong with this book. Tim Gerard Reynolds is well established as the voice of the Riyria characters and he does not disappoint. Note that if you pick this one up then there is no need for you to also grab The Viscount and the Witch as that is fully contained as a chapter within this book.
A bleak future offers little hope to those born in the overcrowded cities of the North American Commonwealth. Andrew Grayson and his parents live on welfare and he has no intention of inheriting that limited existence from them. Andrew opts for the only choice that appears to be a brighter future - he joins the Armed Forces. After all, if he makes it through boot camp then he will have a consistent paycheck of his own and even an outside shot at leaving Earth by being assigned to the Navy.
Andrew quickly learns that the promise of a better life in the military comes with many strings attached and that he is just a small cog in a giant machine. We follow Andrew from enlistment through boot camp and then on to his first couple of assignments. His experiences are varied and complicated but unfortunately he never really establishes much of a personality for himself. Kloos creates a futuristic world with interesting technology and a plausible military structure but none of it is able to take the book to the next level.
Andrew mostly goes along for the ride in the armed forces and he does what he has to do every step of the way, only occasionally pausing to think about right or wrong. This is pretty straight forward military science fiction and it is more interesting as an introduction to a larger story than it is as a standalone work.
The excellent narrator Luke Daniels does his usual good job but he wasn't enough to push this one to 4 stars for me. The experience was, however, solid enough for me to give book 2 (Lines of Departure) a listen at some point.
I am not going to waste time on a lot of words. If you are a fan of Riyria there is no downside or risk in listening to this free short story. It is Royce & Hadrian read by Tim Gerard Reynolds and that is all you need to know.
As explained in the prologue narrated by the author, Michael J. Sullivan was very satisfied with the way he ended the Riyria Revelations series so his only option for continuing with these characters was to go the route of prequels. He also explained that he penned this book in such a manner that it works well for both readers new to Riyria as well as veterans of the first series. I listened to this one as the latter and having Tim Gerard Reynolds back at the mic made me feel right at home.
Many hints are dropped throughout the Revelations series about how Royce and Hadrian first met and at last here is that tale. Revealed within is the "what" and the "how" behind the forming of Riyria, while series veterans will bring along their own knowledge about the "why." New readers can start here and just listen in "chronological order" and learn the "why" over time. This is well done by Sullivan who continues to endear himself to me due to the way in which he approaches his craft.
I don't go to 5 stars for this one simply because the characters of Royce and Hadrian are not as interesting as they will eventually become after they exert influence on each other for a while. The basic premise of an "odd couple" pairing of the cold blooded killer with the honorable knight stereotype is nothing new, but Royce and Hadrian are unique enough to overcome this cliché and make it worth your time. Veterans and newbies alike should pick this one up with the expectation of continuing on.
I have already started book 2 of this series and I am enjoying it immensely as the melding of these two opposite individuals is taking shape and forming the pair of thieves that I have come to know and love. Did I say thieves? My bad, I should have said "creative problem solvers."
The quote that opens the book summary here on Audible reveals many events that are still yet to unfold as Kvothe's tells his story. Based on that quote, and the events of book one, I started listening to this audiobook with some clear expectations about what would come next. Kvothe's rivalry with Ambrose was at a fever pitch and I was really enjoying his life at the University, so when Kvothe took a break to pursue other endeavors I found myself instantly disappointed.
It took a while for Patrick Rothfuss to win me back but he did so in fine fashion. Vintas society is quite interesting and the Adem mercenaries are doubly so. Although it takes time for Kvothe to get his bearings in each new location it always pays off in the end as they are all presented in exquisite detail.
The structure of this book matches that of the first book with Kvothe narrating his story to Chronicler at the Waystone Inn. There are brief interludes back at the inn where events continue to unfold that don't align with Kvothe's narration at all. This keeps you pondering what must have happened in the time between the two and makes for an interesting dynamic. When this book ends there is still a lot of Kvothe's story left to tell so don't expect this book to wrap anything up for you. This is all about the journey and not the destination.
If you weren't a fan of book one then steer clear of this as it is pretty much more of the same only in a lot more diverse locations. Rothfuss and Podehl are both very solid again and they have me looking forward to the third book. (Based on the reviews I plan to skip book 2.5 which is a short story narrated by Rothfuss himself.)
Kvothe is a legend and everyone has heard of him. Sure the tales often differ and contradict each other but here is your chance to sort out the truth from the exaggerations. Rothfuss offers you the opportunity to hear Kvothe's story from the man himself and who could pass up an opportunity like that? Grab a chair and a mug and settle in for a long listen.
What makes this an excellent book is the detail of the world that Patrick Rothfuss has created. I always love a detailed magic system in fantasy literature and there is more than one of them to be had in the Kingkiller Chronicles. Kvothe's tale starts when he is young and the listener learns about the various magics in the world right along with him. The style and structure of the story really isn't anything new, but it's done really well. I am amazed at the level of detail provided and yet it is obvious that the surface has barely been scratched. There is a lot more to come in the subsequent books and I am looking forward to them.
So why only 4 stars if everything was so great? Well it took me over half the book to feel like I was really in a fantasy world. For me, Kvothe's language was too much like my own and Podehl's narration only reinforced that feeling. Despite the content it just didn't "feel" like a fantasy book of swords and sorcery. The good news is that I got over it and I am now happily listening to book two. So if you start listening and have that same feeling don't give up - it will pass and you will be glad you stuck it out.
Volume 3 of the Riyria Revelations contains the final two books of the series, book #5 Wintertide and book #6 Percepliquis. Michael J. Sullivan and Tim Gerard Reynolds reunite to bring all of the main characters back for a final crescendo. Unlike Volume 2 which leaves the listener hanging, Volume 3 ties every thing up nicely.
If you have enjoyed the first two volumes of this series then you are in for a treat as Percepliquis is definitely the best book of the entire series. Not only is it the most entertaining but Sullivan also goes the extra mile to bring all of the threads together. He masterfully weaves a complex tale full of suspense with big reveals and satisfying ends to the many character storylines. Royce and Hadrian are at their best here and I found myself laughing aloud many times.
Stop wasting time reading reviews and spend that credit. You will not be disappointed.
When I wrote my (too) short review of the first book in this series, The Way of Kings, I ended it with this sentence: "This book is so good I will gladly listen to it again as a refresher when book two comes out!"
Well I am back to say that I followed through on my promise and it was worth every second. The Stormlight Archive is epic fantasy at it's best and Sanderson shows why he is at the top of my must read/listen list. Here I am fresh off of investing close to 94 hours of my life listening to books 1 and 2 of the Stormlight Archive and I am ready for more.
The world is rich and deep, the characters are complex, and the magic systems are true Sanderson - well defined, unique, and interesting. All of the main characters are back and the story just gets bigger and bigger. For most authors the end of this book would be a satisfying conclusion to any series but it is obvious that this one is just getting started. Sanderson set the bar so awfully high with the Mistborn series that I am truly impressed he was able to surpass himself with the Stormlight Archive.
Veteran narrators Michael Kramer and Kate Reading are back and once again breathe life into all of the great characters. It was a pleasure to listen to them both for 90+ hours and I can't wait for book three. These two know epic fantasy and combine with Sanderson to form a perfect highstorm of epic proportions.
If you like fantasy books then you will feel like a kid in a candy store here. It is time for you to run up to the counter and plunk down your credit(s) to enjoy this wonderful experience. You won't find more hours of entertainment for so little cost anywhere else. Of course you should start with The Way of Kings but be assured that 94 listening hours later you will find yourself back at the candy store counter standing on your tip toes and holding up another credit. Of course, I will be standing right next to you. :)
Although Volume 2 of the Ryria Revelations contains two books, Nyphron Rising and The Emerald Storm, I still felt how I usually feel after reading the middle book of a good trilogy - unsatisfied with how things are left off and ready for more.
Royce and Hadrian continue their adventures and do some digging into their pasts, while Arista sets off on her own and faces some serious challenges. Each of the characters is flushed out some and the bigger picture continues to come into focus. For me, The Emerald Storm was a bit of a tangent and did not advance the main storyline as much as I would have hoped, but any story involving Royce and Hadrian is entertaining so I'm not complaining.
Tim Gerard Reynolds does his normal excellent job bringing the characters to life and at this point I could not imagine anyone else voicing them. So if you enjoyed Volume 1 there is no reason to hesitate on picking this one up, just keep in mind that the story doesn't end here and you will have to pick up Volume 3 as well.
John Scalzi teams up with his friend Wil Wheaton again to deliver Fuzzy Nation, an entertaining short story set on a distant planet. Although this is a modern re-write of an older story it is still obvious that the original story is from a simpler time. Wheaton does his usual solid job as a narrator. He reads well but he doesn't do a lot of voices so his performances are slightly limited compared to some of the other narrators.
This is a classic tale of a corporation exploiting resources for profit and destroying the environment until a new life form is discovered - the "Fuzzies". There is an ensuing legal battle to protect the home world of the "Fuzzies" as scientists and lawyers square off with differing opinions. The moral compass of certain characters waver as vast sums of money are weighed against the protection of this newly discovered species. Scalzi injects his usual humor into the story and 7 hours felt about right for this one.
Although predictable at times if you are looking for a short, light sci-fi story then Fuzzy Nation will serve you well. Not quite a 4 star tale for me and I would have given it 3.5 stars if allowed.
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