Lynch is one of the best new fantasy authors and world-crafters in the business. His characters and descriptions are excellent, and the story is intriguing. Over the years I've been recommending this book (I first read it in paperback, and picked up the audiobook to loose myself in the story again) I've tried to come up with a decent description of it. I've come up with several that work, but none that do it justice. The Lies of Locke Lamora is a brilliant fantasy crime novel, set in something of an approximation of Venice, in the era/time usually associated with high fantasy. This isn't traditional high fantasy though. It will appeal to high fantasy lovers, but also to people who have never read fantasy in their lives. It is, in short, stupendous.
The reader, it should be noted, is also excellent. His voices are spot on, and his accents really add colour to the story.
A few warnings though:
It does have a healthy amount of profanity - this is a novel about crime meant for adults. This should be expected.
It's relatively violent. Again, see above.
Here's the big warning: you will learn to care about these characters and want to know what happens next. The Gentleman Bastard series is addictive. Lynch has published two of the planned seven books, and the third one is extensively delayed. So if a long wait is going to drive you mad, it might be best not to start this stupendous series.
Night Watch may very well be my favorite Discworld novel. It's a story of second chances, passion, politics, and standing up for what's right. Pratchett brings his inimitable style to time travel, civil unrest, and what it would be like to meet your younger self. It works as a stand-alone novel, but you'll get much more out of it if you're familiar with the Guards books (start with Guards! Guards!). Stephen Briggs, as always, does a superb job narrating, making the Ankh-Morpork come alive (no mean feat).
My one complaint, and it is a large one, unfortunately lies not with Pratchett, or with Briggs, but with Audible: the transfer is awful. The audio quality is sub-par compared to the CD or cassettes it was clearly ripped/recorded from, and the whole thing is sloppy. Audible's remastering/digitizing of older recordings is usually excellent (Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe Series, to pick one example, were beautifully transferred from Blackstone's CDs, cassettes, or master recordings), but in this case, the whole thing has the same feel of an old vhs tape slapped onto a new blu-ray disc. Night Watch, as one of Pratchett's best novels, deserves better treatment than it has received here. I can only hope that a better transfer will one day provide this site's audiophiles with a reading they can revel in.
A stupendously moving and detailed account of Mandela's remarkable achievements, and how they were helped by and tied to South Africa's Springboks in the 1995 Rugby World Cup. The book flows like a novel, and the ending is that of a fairy tale, but it is in fact a well-researched factual history, laced with interviews with almost every significant figure in the evolution of South Africa.
Die-hard sports fans may find that there is too much on politics (those who know their rugby may find some of the explanations of the sport a bit tedious), and die-hard politicos may feel there's too much sport, but for most, the balance will be perfect.
A few words should be said for Gideon Emery, the narrator. He is perfectly suited for this book and does a truly excellent job. His voice fits Carlin's writing style, and he manages the Afrikaans, Xhosa, and other languages that crop up with an ease that speaks of long practice, research, and rehearsal.
In short, superb.
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