Gretna, LA, USA | Member Since 2006
Thought I had Simpson figured out. You've been there, too.
You listen or read a series of novels, and you get a basic idea of an inevitable path, of sorts. You expect, you analyze, you feel that you're ahead a few key steps, and then you...
Get surprised, and in the case of Simpson's latest, Human Plus, I was surprised, and in a good way. A Matrix-ey sorta way.
Start with a happy modern world very much like out own, and put the chief architect of its technological future dead center of an astounding conspiracy. A world-wide conspiracy. A world that has very few, if any REAL citizens in it, despite the millions that walk its streets, ride its waves, or drive its highways. And this brilliant man discovers that this isn't the ultimate reveal, not at all. There's a story much darker and deeper, more hideous and surprising than he could ever imagine - A supreme architect, infinitely greater than himself, has crafted this modern paradise, and in doing so, targeted him for a nightmarish purpose far sinister than he can imagine. In this voyage of discovery, a group of rebel outsiders contact him, reveal the truth, and his true role in this larger story.
Sound a little bit familiar? Sure it does. Neo, you must chose the blue pill or the red pill. Which is it?
Neither - This ISN'T the Matrix. There are subtle and VERY glaring differences here, and if you make assumptions at this point, Simpson will surprise you, as he did me. The one real similarity is that there is a much larger world just beneath the rabbit hole, and it just gets better from this point on, and down a path much UNLIKE the Matrix.
If you've come along for the author's ride in his previous novels in this series, strap in. This is a very cool and unexpected departure, and one I enjoyed, as I hope you will.
Use your Audible credit, AKA the the red pill. Stay in wonderland. It's quite a ride.
If you follow my reviews, you know that I like to roll the dice, to randomly buy a series on a whim, on the luck of the draw. Sometimes, it's a bust.
This time, it's a definite win, but if you go by how the series was created, you'd probably run in the opposite direction.
Here's one for the books: Jim Butcher is well-known for his "Dresden Files" series, created a fantastic fantasy series on a BET. Yep, a bet. Read on.
To quote the Codex Alera Wiki site, "the inspiration for the series came from a bet Jim was challenged to by a member of the Delray Online Writer’s Workshop. The challenger bet that Jim could not write a good story based on a lame idea, and Jim countered that he could do it using two lame ideas of the challenger’s choosing. The “lame” ideas given were “Lost Roman Legion", and “Pokémon”.
It DOES sound lame.
Well, Butcher makes it work. To the nines.
I've finished this first novel, and I'm enjoying this unique story line of humans with Roman similarities binding with elemental furies. Add unique races, backstabbing, politics, military battles, duels and an interwoven story line that pulls it all together, and you get a fantastic story that's simply put, a VERY VERY good listen.
The whole concept of fighting alongside elemental familiars used here is wonderfully executed. It's deep, well-thought magic-based partnership of man and magical creature is a pleasure to experience.
So, what about the writing?
Again, if you follow my reviews, you know that I love ENGAGING fantasy or scifi writing. Anything less won't do. And this is definitely engaging. There's great characters that plot, backstab, challenge, fight for their beliefs, devour their enemies, and celebrate their victories. You're taken on a great romp of a story, and in the end, isn't that what we all want in a good listen?
I know I do, and I so enjoyed this first audiobook in the series, that I bought the entire series. Yep. And I'm not disappointed with the decision.
Who knew that Lost Roman Legions and Pokemon could knock it out of the park?
Home run, Jim. Home run.
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