The sprinked-in sex is not at all neccessary, nor does it add to the story. It makes the characters more flat.
The relations to actual history, especially music, is novel and believable. The description of prague is great and makes one feel really there. The romance is boring, the bad-guy in the story too simple.
The characters are good and distinguishable, I really like the accents she manages to speak with.
Well, Tom Hanks, if he were a woman -- it is sort of Da Vinci Codish...
The good guys are well drawn and get a character. The bad guys are a bit in contrast to that, more flat and a bit obvious. The story itself is build quite straight, too. The author lays out secrets in the beginning of the book and resolved them one by one in the end, more or less believable. Quite a straight story with few surprises.
From the title I somehow expected a bit more fantasy-style, but it is not much so. The Magic in the title relates more to what I would call Mysticism.
The walk through many aspects of world history
Battles that decided the history of the world
The author keeps a strict focus on the "decisiveness" of the battles he describes. For each one of them he argues why this was a decisive battle (and often, why not the other). He often embeds the battle in a larger history of the region, which is the most informative part. I am not especially interested in a blow-to-blow-description, so this is what the author does very good.
There are two points I would criticize:
a) Obviously, the author has most interest in western/christian culture. He tries to balance his choices, but the way describes the non-western battles seems a bit more "skimming", less deep.
b) His pronunciation of (for him) foreign names is horrible. With his tries of german names I can tell best, but I recognize his difficulties with other languages as well. "Hashian" mercenaries in the American Civil War? Where is an "sh" in "Hessian"? The swedish occupied "Shleyswig Holstin"? The "ei" is in "Holstein", not in "Schlewsig". And so on.
Is this nit-picky of me? Maybe it is, but for some reason I expected a historian for international things would be more interested in international pronunciation as well. This one seems not.
The characters are nicely drawn -- most are, at least. I would have fun getting to know them better.
The main adversary is a bit mono-dimensional. She could be improved. There are a few hyper-bombasic things in it that could be dialed down.
Duke. He es a a bit "the Dude" :-)
The voice performance is really great. It makes me laugh, yes.
Another must-have for Diskworld and Ankh-Morpork fans, and its quite ok. Newcomers to Diskworkd should read at least Going Postal first, or maybe even Thud.
The development of the Diskworld, and Vetinary plays a bigger role.
Discussions between Havaloc and Moist
There is always another Diskworkd book needed. Always.
The story is not that surprising. It misses a bit of a surprising twist. But it has some funny and insightful moments.
Yes, if you like action, the 30s and do not mind a bit of "borrowing" from other series.
Especially this audio edition has a exceptionally good speak performer. The accents and different voices are very good (don't mind that the german sounds like french, I get the idea).
not surprising, but looking forward to the continuation
The introduction of Jake Sullivan. His style makes me smile.
It obviously is written as part of a series, so why not?
Except for the setting, which is good, there are many things "borrowed" from the X-Men especially. Except, here it is called "magic", there it is called "gift". The story-arc has amazingly lots of parallels...
Nonetheless, told well, so no harm done.
The detailed style got taught be a lot of things I did not know. A school's education of history could not prepare me for this level of detail -- nor can it being a german for over 40 years.
The authenticity, the reports (the author calls "objective")
Does a good job, speaks clearly
Deeply moving, authentic and objective
The author has written a truly remarkable book. It has only a few downsides, they are minor, but I will name them nonetheless. He calls his book "objective" and it is, because he is writing from first hand observation, collected reports and brings in other sources. But as a journalist he should know that using so many adjectives when describing people is not a good "objective style" ("the narrow-minded X", "the dull-witted Y", etc).
I also have the feeling that the author falls into the same trap as the subjects he writes about when he talks about his opinion of germans, mainly in the prologue and epilogue. He simplifies and is prejudiced. The reduction of the german to "is used to obey commands since the middle ages (or was it the roman imperium?)" is ridiculous. In his prologue he is writing from a 1960s point of view and I could understand his hesitance towards germany at that time. But the epilogue written in the 1990s just after the Wiedervereinigung shows he did not change his view on germany as a whole -- that I found a bit unsettling, because I *know* germany as a country is *not* what it has been up to 1945. I speak as a german and -- I hope -- a world citizen.
I wrote too long about this small issue: The book is still truly remarkable, educational and deeply, very deeply moving. I regret that it has had better critiques outside of germany then inside it. I find it should be mandatory reading in schools, especially german ones. Only not forgetting will make it never happen again.
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