All I can say is WOW. After listening to hundreds of SciFi and espionage/political intrigue books, I finally decided to write a review. No, three reviews. After this one, maybe I won't write any more. If you read my reviews of the previous two books in the series, you know that I've fallen in love with this story, the characters, the author's writing style and the excellence of the narrations. This third in the series tops off the story perfectly. It not only gives a satisfying completion to the story, it still leaves openings for other story spins to be worked in the future. I don't expect everyone will have the reaction I've had but if you like this series enough to be checking out book three, I expect you are already hooked. You might as well give in to the pull. You will not be disappointed in this final entry...but you will be wishing it could go on and on...
I understand the Richard Phillips is working on a prequel about Jack Gregory (The Ripper) called "Once Dead" due to come out later this year. It's about how he came to have his special talents and powers. I can't wait! The author's plans, I think, are to write three books in "The Ripper" series and then start on a series about 20 years in the future that focuses on Robbie and the adventures of the Rho Agenda characters in the new world that all this alien encounter has created. I usually don't experience this thing of being a "Fan" but it looks like I'm captive now and I will be waiting anxiously for every book he produces.
I really enjoyed Crystal Soldier and Crystal Dragon, but those two finished with loose ends I had hoped might be brought to completion in this third book (in the Books of Before "series.") So now here again in Balance of Trade. While I enjoy the storytelling and the performance, the ending left so many unanswered questions...just when you finally get really attached to the characters and the story lines, it ends abruptly and apparently none of it will ever be mentioned again in any of the future books. It's been 9 years since this one was completed and as far as I can tell, there are little if any references in future books to what was presented in this one, so it may be safe to assume there never will be. Because of this, I've pretty much decided to not continue with other books in the Liaden Universe "Series." Read Balance of Trade for a good story that you will enjoy as you go through it, but regard it as a stand-alone book and have no expectations of any kind for series continuation or you also may find the ending sudden and disappointing.
I am usually only warm when it come to this genre but this book really surprised me. One of the main characters (and my favorite, hands-down) is the dog Maggie. I usually tend toward SciFi, especially when the author brings me into the consciousness of an alien character but I don't think I've ever read an author who was as able to bring the consciousness of a dog to the game like Robert Crais. It reminds me of the Jack London books that I used to love so much as a youngster, but somehow this story even surpasses those. I don't tend to be an overly-emotional person so when a book really moves me to joy or tears, it will get high marks unless it is just poorly written or narrated. This story was not only exceptionally well written, but the narration was one of the best. There were many moments of sorrow, anger and even laughter throughout the book but the end brought tears of joy. Unless you hate dogs, even if you don't like cops, this is a must read!
My Audible library is nearing 200 books and I never write reviews...just no time for it. But this series took me so completely by storm that I decided it deserves a comment or two. You can read the many comments by others for details. For me, the first book was amazing and I frequently find the second in a series to be a letdown. Happily, I found this book to be even better than the first, partly because I had already fallen in love with the characters. The author, perhaps intuiting that his readers will have already made their character attachments, are ready for some surprise storyline twists and revelations about the two alien powers and agendas. He does not disappoint!
I also want to congratulate the Narrator for a five-star, perfect job. After listening to dozens of narrators, I've developed some likes and dislikes but no one does a better job than MacLeod Andrews at creating believable voices, consistent identification, and most of all, emotional vocal expressions that keep you engrossed in the story without ever being distracted by the narration itself. Like special effects in the movies, the best narration in audio books needs to be completely invisible and Mr. Andrews accomplishes this better than anyone.
I don't pick books that are targeted to kids or teens and this is not one of those. I actually didn't know that three of the main characters were high school students and that's good because by the time I realized it, I was so engrossed in the book that I hardly noticed. Not only is this an adult series, filled with incredible science, espionage, international events and amazing story lines, it is a masterpiece of character development. I don't think I ever felt the kind of anxiety for the safety and success of the characters this series brought up for me. I don't know why...just really cared about every one of them. I think a lot of it was because this is more of a character-centric author, vs. situation-centric. He just didn't spend as much time describing the minutia if detail in the environment that so many other authors like to do. Instead, even his environment descriptions were really more of a description of the characters' experience, insights and realizations.
You will not be disappointed in this series. Just be forewarned, if you start with "The Second Ship" I can pretty much guarantee you'll buy the other two in the series and then you'll be left longing for more.
This is one of my favorites from the '60s. I was pleased by how well it was narrated.
I've never been so disappointed. Although the story line was difficult to follow at times, it ended up making some sense and the characters were compelling. By about two hours into it, I was looking forward to finding out what happened to them all but the author just gave up. None of the story lines were brought to any conclusion. None of the characters found any resolution. IT JUST ENDED! Not even a third of the way through what clearly should have been a six hour story, he just made some comment about the main characters all being killed and that's it! Unbelievable! That's two hours I'll never get back. Even if it's free...don't waste your time! I wish you could rate something zero stars...that's what this one really deserves.
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