Woking, GA, United States | Member Since 2010
One of the best...both for performance and enjoyment, providing you can handle a huge cast of characters, a vast world, and subplot upon subplot. If you are looking for a coffee table 'pick it up, put it down' or a 'sit on the beach, half a sleep' popcorn novel, then steer clear. If you want a thoroughly engrossing complex plot, full of intrigue, where every word counts, resulting in giving your brain a good work out...then this is definitely it! Were the latter to apply to you, then pay no attention to the ratings and reviews on this site. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this site's demographic will not represent the veiws of discerning Fantasy fans, and Steven Erikson is not a household name...therefore, knowing little of what this book contains, a large proportion of those choosing to download it on a whim, would have known little of what to expect. Among hard core Fantasy readers and authors alike, Malazan Book Of The Fallen is a hugely well regarded series, and from this first book alone, I can see why.
The story is multi layered, characters are both intriguing and well developed, and the journey is totally unpredictable. None of your much repeated Fantasy cliches are here, and you never know who to trust...for the most part anyway. For all it's complexity and detail, the action is pretty relentless, although subtle. Several events happen in every chapter, and the story moves swiftly. One this is imperative though, you need to concentrate on every word. If you are distracted by events around you, or in your mind, don't try to read this novel, and if you've already started it, come back when you can devote your attention to it...the concentrateion will pay dividends in the end. For many, Song of Ice & Fire is the best Fantasy series available today. I disagree. George R R Martin's epic tale reads more like a soap opera compared to Malazan Book Of The Fallen. It spent vast overlong chapters revealing relatively little to further the stories. While sex is neither embarrasing for me, nor offensive, Song of Ice and Fire seemed to indicate that the author was obsessed by sex, and it became boring and tiresome. Don't get me wrong, there is much to like about Song Of Ice and Fire, but given the several years we have to wait between novels being released, it hardly seems worth it. Malazan is a completed, ten book series now, and the author did it in a relatively short period of time. To create this masterpiece, so quickly, and without padding out the story out with overused sexual titillation, is commendable.
To read a print book and to listen to a book be read to you, are two entirely different experiences. One allows your own interpretation of character's personalities and voice traits, and will be limited by your imagination and acting ability. Good audiobook narrators are charged with knowing the charaters, usually by reading the book once or twice before recording it, thus knowing all there is to know about a character before applying it's final voice, accent, and personality...something that reading a print book can't do for you. A good narrator will enhance a print book by entertaining you, and allowing your mind to focus more on the plot and dilemas. Ralph Lister is one of the best. He has carefully applied the voice and personality traits to each character, and accurately, given the story that unfolds. He is clear, interesting, and acts the dialogue faultlessly. This makes this hugely complex book far easier to grasp. I will have no hesitation in seeking out other books read by him, and be extremely happy should he turn out to be the reader on future novels I want to read. I have a forum thread running on Amazon's audiobook forums, where I have created a 'league of narrators' and Ralph Lister will be in the top division.
Sorry, don't do spoilers. Once again I say, Audible, give up on this Q&A style of writing reviews...particularly questions about revealing elements of the plot. What's the point of reading a book if you know what's going to happen?
When I obtained this book, it was available as one complete volume. Given the low take up (revealed by the extremely low review count), I am flabbergasted that it is now on offer as a two part, two volume edition, forcing those now to have to give up 2 credits. It is a 26 hour book not a 40 hour book for god's sake. You'll never shift more downloads by making an already low rated book (ratings I totally disagree with by the way...it's a first class read) more expensive!
Why can't Audible just let us write a review in our own words instead of prompting us to answer their questions, plus how can you compare one book with another if every review has us answering different questions? This has to be one of the silliest questions and totally irrelevant to most of us...'Would you listen to this book again, and why?'...Well, lets see, there are so many books out there to get through I don't have time to re read books! The only time I ever re read books is when it's a series and I need a refresher before reading the latest release in that series. Aside from that, Harry Potter is the only exception because it just felt good to revisit that world. The fact that I won't ever re read this book is no reflection on it's quality...so, an irrelevant question!
Oh god...please give me a break with these questions. Stephen King is one of those writers with a unique imagination, and doesn't tend to repeat himself. There is no comparison to this book, although it could be said to be a cross between 'Stand By Me' and 'Black House' although you shouldn't place too much on that...just read it and judge it as an individual book on it's own merit.
Ahhh..at last I get to talk about the reason for my high marks, although I'd have preferred to construct my own review, and once again we're faced with a daft question from Audible. At the end of the day, reading and listening to an audiobook are two distinct experiences and cannot be compared. One utilises the readers imagination in a different way to the other. I cannot compare the two as I am visually impaired and unable to read with my eyes, so I'll answer this as if the question were put differently. What does Steven Weber bring to this book that another narrator might not?...there, that's the question I'll answer! Stephen brings energy, natural acting skills, a first class selection of accents, both internationally and regionally, and never attempts to do female voices by shifting octaves...only inflection, tone, mannerism, and personality. He's even charged with doing accents badly as part of the character's attributes (Ritchie as a boy), and achieves this with ease. Prior to listening to this version, I had managed to get hold of two other versions read by two other narrators, and only went in search of a third version because one of those reader was very dated in their approach to acting the parts, and was mispronouncing some of the words and phrases, and the other reader just sent me to sleep!I no longer put the likes of George Guidall and Scott Brick in my top 5 as peoople like Steven Weber, Steven Pacey, John Chancer, and Michael Page, and a few more, just go to an extra gear that seems to take a book into a special place, a special zone. 'It' is a very well known book, and read by a good narrator it's a good book. However, when it's read by a special narrator, it becomes a special book. The two go hand in hand.
SPOILER ALERT (just giving you a warning that Audible will no doubt not give you, despite the fact that this is answer to their question)I don't want to differentiate between the main characters, because they are entwined in the story, and all have weaknesses and redeeming characteristics to their personality. I do like Ritchie though because he gives Steven Weber a good opportunity to flex his narration skills to the limits!...smiles
Yes...Please Audible, give us the option of providing our own worded reviews rather than these question and answer sessions. I understand it might help those who don't know what to say, but some of us want to construct our own reviews...so give us the choice!Also, please sort out the graphics. The star rating system is virtually invisible under certain colour schemes, namely the one I use...'High Contrast Black' (Windows colour scheme). I have no idea as to whether I've given this book the ratings I wanted it to have. For anyone interested, I gave 'Performance' a 5 out of 5, 'Story' 4 out of 5, and 'Overall' 5 out of 5, at least that's what I intended to give it!
Yes, but only because I abandoned this version, read by the author, and sought out another version, excellently read, by, I think, Jack Fox. I am blind so I have access to visually impaired talking book libraries. My time listening to the Stephen King narrated bit that I did listen to, was not time well spent. He reads in a totally flat tone and without any thought put into the phrasing of sentances. It is strange that an author can read such textured dialogue, and yet has little skill in speaking that same dialogue.
Not wishing to give any spoilers away, I will just say that my favourite character was the young lead character in the middle story, followed by, of course, Roland!
As mentioned previously, it is nearly always a waste of a good book to allow the author to read their own work. As much as people might think they are the ultimate solution to hearing the book as it was intended, it does not go without saying, and this is largely due to a basic lack of acting skills. Being a good narrator is a very skilled job, and it would be amazing if an author just happened to have both the skill of writing and that of narrating too.
Nope...don't do movies!
Please, please, could someone who has the power to do so, please encourage Mr King to stop reading his own books. Listening or reading to a book is mostly a once only experience, so lets not allow such sentiment as ''wouldn't it be cool to get the author to read his own work'', or ''wouldn't it be best to let the author read the book in the way he intended'', because it's not true and it's wasting our, the listener, experience with that book. Some of us have no choice but to listen to a book, so let's think about us, the customer, and put us first! I will be seeking my money back on this item, as I feel it wasn't 'fit for purpose'.
True to form, Stephen Leather dishes up the old formula, and sure enough, it's still just as enjoyable. Leather is not a literary genius, but that doesn't matter here. The 'Spider' books are good fun, and an interesting reflection on some of the issues faced by the British government. This story, however, has a refreshing change of location, something I hope the author explores further in future Shepherd storoies, although the current formula of alternating between Britain and foreeign locations for the story backdrop, seems quite successful. I'd hate every story to be based abroad. These stories are great yarns, and should be treated as such, but don't be surprised if you find yourself mulling philosophically over one topic or another.
The dual plot structure that Stephen Leather has used in the past, works well to provide an unexpected climax, and you'll find your self becoming more and more tense as the book progresses. I'm particularly pleased that the author has not tried to play with the 'Spider' formula, and that you can settle down with a mug of your favourite hot or cold tipple and be thouraghly entertained!
Paul Thornly has done a good job of returning all character traits to the way they were in the first three books in the 'Spider' series. There were two previous readers for ISIS publishing, but on the whole they have all kept the characters consistantly the same from book to book, with one or two annoying differences.The first reader in the series, Martyn Read, suddenly, out of the blue, changed the voice of Major Gannon in the fourth book. He went from someone sounding like a well to do Major in the three previous books, to a more relaxed laid back sole in the fourth. Now, don't get me wrong, either way works, but only if you stick to the personality you choose, the whole way through the series. Paul Thornly has done that. Martin Read, in my opinion, apart from the dreadful voice character change, was the better reader. Having said that, I'm very happy with Paul Thornly, and certainly wouldn't want to see him changed. He has altered 'Spider' from a middle class private school educated sounding accent, to a home counties state educated voice, but I've dealt with that, and wouldn't want it changed yet again. Paul isn't my favourite reader in the world, but he's above average, and is good with accents and dialects. Cornelius Garrett was bought in to read the fifth book in the series, and although he was great at the Northern Irish accent, he gave the same voice personality to virtually all his Northern Irish characters, male of female. The lead suspect, who was a female, sounded more male than the seductive femaile she was supposed to be.
Anyway, all in all, leave Paul Thornley where he is, as he's doing a great job!
Spider Shepherd is not a tear jerker kind of character really, so as far as heart wrenching emotions go, you find find them here. Hard choices are the name of the game for this series, and that has not changed. Now if tension is what floats your boat, then there's plenty of that here.
A personal plea to Stephen Leather, please don't stop writing about Spider, even if you have to move him through some career changes in the process. There is a winning formula here, and we look forward to each episode.
Bearing in mind this is the author's first outing, there are some interesting sub plots here, and a curious link to the origins of this Fantasy universe. I won't say more, as don't want to spoil it for you. Despite a very slow start (almost the entire first half of the book) to the character and plot development, things do start to flesh out in the second half. I have to say, several times during the early stages, I nearly abandoned this book...but I'm glad I didn't. I'm not saying it's one of the best Fantasy novels I've ever read, but it certainly had enough to make me interested in the second in the series. I'm hoping the author's learning curve will continue though, as I will not be happy with more of the same. I found the first half to be rather two dimensional, and as a result, I had very little care for the well being of any of the characters, including the hero's mentor, Road Toad, whereas normally, such a role would generate humour, emotional depth, and a certain tutoring role, all of which were lacking. The battle scenes were rushed, and almost no information about the terrain or the character of creatures were given. Very simplistic battle tactics, and for great sections I was wondering why I was continuing. This definitely changed around halfway through the book. The author started to pace himself, taking time to describe more of the surroundings and character emotions. This made all the difference. If I had one more criticism, I'd say that the final half an hour, especially the final 10 minutes, were horrendously rushed, undoing some of the good work the author had done in the final half. I hope, when the second book does finally make it to audio, that the author paces himself as he did in the second half, and works on the character development, as I need to care about the characters I read about.
I would be willing to try another by this author, as, unlike a lot of Fantasy novels, his books are not quite as long. If I find myself tiring of it, I know I haven't a huge book to get through...although I have no clue how long the second book will be. Based on the first book, provided he has worked at his character development, terrain description, fighting descriptions, and general surrounding descriptions, I feel sure I'd give him another go.
With regards to the narrator's performance, he wasn't great, without being particularly bad. He was a good enough reader, but I felt he lacked natural dialogue phrasing, and read the battle scenes without any light and shade. Changing the pace of reading and adding more tonal changes would have lifted this book as I truly did have a problem working out whether it was the book or the reading that might have improved the first half. In the end I decided it was a mixture of both. I believe this may be the first read for this narrator, so I'm sure he'll improve as he goes along.
Hmm...does Flank Hawk need a follow up? I'd say it doesn't 'need' one, but if one turns up I'd give it a go...and hope that the books strongest characters are retained, but with more development all around, on plot, character, and terrain.
Keep going Terry, but please try to heed what I've said. I believe your ideas are good, but the writing style needs to find it's way. I would say that from the point when the hero starts his main mission (trying to avoid spoilers here), and about 20 mins before the end, was the strongest section of writing, and hugely improved over the first half. I would urge you not to rush the final wrap up as you did in this book! I know an author can be impatient to get the story down, but atmosphere's need to be created and worked on, and for a large portion here, atmosphere was definitely limited. I do like the ideas though.
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