This book tells the story of Cvothe and how, as he says in his own words he "trooped, traveled, loved, lost and was betrayed". Essentially this is your basic coming of age, rights of passage fantasy, where the young boy comes to terms with whatever strange powers he has while at the same time the story builds the cast of friends and enemies who will help and hinder him on his way. The story itself, while not wholely original is well written and engaging at all times. I found myself thinking about the book and its characters while not reading it, which is always a sign the book has captured my imagination. The writing style is clear and concise and the dialogue is excellent, which is more than you can say for most epic fantasies. It must be stressed that this is very much a character driven story. While we are given some details about the world the characters live in, this is really just to support the story, rather than to tell it. The book is not without its flaws. Firstly Cvothe is just that bit too brilliant. He is a masterful musician, he picks up new ideas almost instantaniously, he has a clever mouth and even cleverer hands. Secondly, the use of language is jarringly anachronistic at times. The language is very modern american in its use of expressions and slang and this does not always sit well against the obvious renaissance backdrop of the book. Lastly, the final third of the book seemed very flat. The sole purpose of the book seems to be to lay foundations for what is to come. Finally, I need to mention the narration. Nick Podehl does a fantastic job of narrating this book. His use of voices and accents throughout is just incredible. He uses just the right intonation and pitch of voice while at all times remaining clear and distinct.
Its easy to see how this book originated from a comic form. The characters are cardboard cut outs and the dialogue is cartoonish.
The story itself is simplestic and the ending is abrupt and very underwhelming.
However, for all its faults the book wasn't that bad except for the fact that Wil Wheaton insisted in narrating the book as if he was reading to a 5 year old. Ok, I know this is based on a fable, but the book is definitely for adults and the narrators reading style was not suited at all. Added to that was his tendency to let his voice fade away at the end of sentences, making hearing what was saying quite difficult.
If you are interested in language then you must get this book. It is packed full of interesting facts delivered in a lighthearted and fast paced style by Professor John McWhorter.
The book is broken up into 24 15 minute lectures which uses a different letter of the alphabet as a jumping off point to a discussion about some aspect of language.
The short lecture length allows you to listen to a complete piece if you just have 15 minutes to spare.
Many times I found myself laughing out loud which isn't something I often can say about language lectures! But at the same time I learned many new things about how we speak and the different nuances of language all over the world.
This book starts off well and with an interesting premise is all set up to deliver. However, from about halfway through it loses its way and I thought long and hard before actually bothering to finish it.
Its true that if you have an obsession with 1970s and 80s pop culture you will get more out of this book, but early on I did think that wouldn't stop me from enjoying it nonetheless.
Unfortunately, the references to the 1980s just become more and more geeky. The author seemed to revel in just listing the names of obscure movies, songs and video games from that time period. My ears definitely began to glaze over when we got on to listing japanese monster flics!
Another major problem with the book occurs with the introduction of a really awful love storyline. Its just unbelievably corny and reminds you of some sort of really bad teen fiction romance.
If you are obsessed with the 1980s and like some basic tech talk then give it a go, otherwise stay well clear.
If you have an interest in the middle ages, and particularly in the social history of that time period, you absolutely have to read this book.
We are all familiar with the history books which describe the major battles of a particular time period or which concentrates on the political machinations. This book does this as well but with so much more.
If you want to learn how people dressed, what they ate, how much they were paid, how religion and war influenced their lives, what they died of etc, etc, then get this book now.
The best bit is that Barbara Tuchman doesn't just concentrate on the nobility. She covers all stratas of society from peasants to clerics, from dukes to brigands.
Some reviews have complained that this book spends too much time on the minutiae of daily life, but personally I think that this is the book's strongest point.
You actually get to know how people "really" lived during the 14th century.
The book does concentrate almost exclusively on western Europe, imparticular France. However, as so much of what happened in the 14th century centred around decisions and actions taken in what is now present day France this is perfectly understandable.
There is excellent coverage of the Black Death, the Papal Schism and of course the 100 years war.
We get a fascinating insight into how religion influenced daily life and what people actually believed and how much of that belief was actually practised.
Believe me, if you thought some of the scandals surrounding the Catholic church in the last few years were bad, you will be sobered when you here what they were up to during this time period.
My advice is not to get hung up on trying to remember all of the names of people and places covered in the book. Many of the names are similar and keeping track of interlinking families and alliances can often be tricky.
As long as you can keep track of the main characters its probably ok to let the rest just flow over you ... while you just enjoy absorbing the interesting titbits of information we are given along the way.
Personally I think the narration by Nadia May is the best ... note that a second version of the book is available from audible which is narrated by a different person.
There is no doubt that this book contains a massive amount of information. Some might find this daunting, but if you are really interested in life during the middle ages then you will lap it all up.
Ok, cards on the table here:
This is not a fun read
There is no happy ending
Its tough, gritty and definitely not 'a laugh a minute'
Like other McCarthy books this story is all about the descriptions of the landscape and dialogue of the carachters.
The prose sucks you into a hard boiled Texas, complete with mexican drug cartels, a loan, possibly insane, hitman, an old world sheriff of the west and a man who just happens to stumble upon 2 million dollars he can't help taking.
There is no real plot as such, but McCarthy uses his characters to reflect on good versus evil and the deterioration of american society.
Its the use of dialogue and descriptive prose which really sells the book to me.
True, the dialogue is pure western, but it never appears laboured or clicheted.
And the real clincher is the narrator is absolutely top notch.
If I had one problem with the book is that the last couple of chapters sort of wander a bit. It seems to lose momentum and I'm not entirely sure what McCarthy was hoping to achieve with it.
That said, this is a great title and I'd definitely recommend it to those who enjoyed The Road by the same author.
It's impossible to categorise this book. It reminds me of books by Christopher more etc. While there are certain passages of the book which are just downright weird, at the end of the day its a great listen.
The prose especially really stands out. There are some of the most unusual and interesting similes and metaphors I've ever heard been used in the English language.
At times thought provoking and hilarious, this is a must listen.
Also, narration by both narrators is top notch.
If I could I'd probably give this 3.5 out of 5 stars, since it is bbetter than average.
Think of it as being the God Father meets medieval venice with a bit of magic thrown in for good measure. There is a lot of violence and swearing in this book, but its sort of tongue in cheek, and unless you are particularly sensitive I doubt people would be offended.
As usual Michael Page does a fantastic job of narration.
Its an action packed rollicking read, so yif you are looking for a lot of intrigue and introspection then you won't find it hear.
In an echo of A song Of Ice And fire the author has no qualms in killing off major characters in brutal and unexpected ways ... so be warned, don't get too attached to any character as they mightn't make it through to the end.
The story is complete in itself, but it does leave it open for a sequel.
I'm not sure I found it engaging enough to purchase the second book in the story, but if I was looking for a light read with plenty of action then I might consider it.
The premise for this book is intriguing, but in reality it falls far short of even being remotely good. If it wasn't for some farely graphic descriptions of violence I would have thought that it was aimed at the young adult or even children's market.
Some of the istorical background is interesting but the story itself is barely credible. Again and again our heroes are saved by coincidences and occurrances which stretch the definition of Deus ex machina to its absolute limit.
Lastly, the dialogue is wooden and many passages often repeat themselves.
It is possible that some of these faults are due to a poor translation from the original german, but it doesn't excuse the tissue thin plot and eventual resolution.
There are many other historical who done its out there which are more worthy of your credits.
When I first read the blurb for this book I thought it was right up my alley. Epic fantasy, complex plot, large cast of characters, intrigue etc, etc. Unfortunately, the book itself did not live up to expectations.
Indeed, the only reason I stuck with this book to the end was due to the large number of reviews saying that it would be worth it.
I've read and enjoyed titles by Jordan, Martin etc, so don't get me wrong I know a complex storyline when I hear it.
There is no doubt that this book is complicated. At the start we are thrown in head first to, what seems on the face of it, the middle of a story. We are introduced to a large number of characters very quickly. We know nothing of their history, allegiances or motivations. Over time things do settle down a bit and by the middle of the book you feel that you are finally getting to grips with things.
Unfortunately the problem is that things just don't develop from there. The story just seems to drift on with no obvious goal. Various gods and mythical characters make cameo appearances, and at times it just feels they were introduced just for the sake of it.
There seems to be several different magic systems in use, but none of them are ever properly explained ... it just seems to happen.
Another significant problem I have with the book is there isn't really one character that you particularly like. Its always difficult to invest time and effort in a book when you don't really care all that much what happens to the protagonists.
Finally, the narrator really doesn't help the book at all. His interpretation of female voices is just awful and he has a habit of fading away at the end of sentences which makes hearing what he is saying quite difficult.
So, all and all, I won't be continuing with this series.
An absolutely fantastic read. Other reviews have given excellent outlines of the plot and topics addressed in this title, so I won't repeat them here.
We may have come along way in how we treat people with disabilities since this book was first published, but in some ways we haven't moved forward at all. Imparticular, how people view others with intellectual disabilities has not really changed that much.
This book will make you reflect on some many levels. For one thing, getting what we always desire doesn't necessarily make us any happier. How we treat and perceive people who are "different" can have both positive and negative affects on these people, but also can affect us even more profoundly.
Read this book, you won't regret it.
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