I bought all three of these books years ago and HATED Red Mars. Never finished it and I tried several times. It was boring and way too dry and sciencey. I wasted a small fortune.
Well last summer I was listening to an old ITunes play list and Green Mars popped on at the end of something else. I was in the middle of a project and wasn't going to stop to change it. The recording started in the middle, talking about how plants survive winter and deal with salinity- a subject lately dear to me, and I was drawn in completely.
I have listened to the whole series now and I cannot imagine how I didn't like it all those years ago. Its really not very sciencey, I mean sure .. a bit... but the characterizations and the story do not rely on the science. There is much, much more of politics and as much of magic as there is of science in this series.
The performance is great
This is fantasy as good as it gets. The writing and voice of the piece are meant to be 1800's English, the story starts around the start of Queen Victoria's reign. The style and tone are somewhat akin to Susanna Clarke in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. While I loved that story, the cast here is richer and more diverse and so is the language.
The worldbuilding and magic systems are very elegant, using familiar myths and legends in interesting ways and weaving them all together with interesting tidbits of actual social history.
The last story that captivated me this much was Game of Thrones, the book not the tv show. This is obviously a shorter story that moves at a faster pace, its nice because it deals with some difficult subjects without becoming hopelessly sad and depressing.
Simon Prebble's performance is great, he is always great. Couldn't recommend it more highly
I would never have gotten this if it hadn't been on 3.99 special. This IS a YA story but its a good one, so it works for me. I think the Laura Ingalls meets Harry Potter tag is apt as far as it goes - but in this one Magic isn't a secret world - its a mainstream political issue. I am interested in seeing how the sort of "amish" no magic fringe plays out. Its always good to investigate ways of resisting.
Its a slow but engaging start - the pov girl is only 5 when the story opens but she hears things, and shes 13 or so by the middle.
I usually avoid female narrators. Not always, mind- there are several that I really like - its a tone/ pitch thing I think- but this performance is great. There are subtleties of accent and pitch that are mindblowing and shes never ever squeaky.
This one is tricky. I like it, I do. I couldn't tell you what actually happens in the story because I am still not sure. The language is glorious. If you enjoyed the language for its own sake in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I bet you would like the language in this.
In a fit of enthusiasm for that very idea I tried listening to The Three Musketeers
and Ivanhoe. Not so much, the language in those didn't draw me in. It was too stiff and put me off.
The problem here, and it IS a problem for me... super lengthy descriptions of every little thing, every thought, every expression, every everything, goes on and on and on and on. You can listen for two hours and its still the same scene in which nothing of note has happened. The rub is, I keep thinking maybe something did happen and I missed it because I was happily lost in some enchanting phrase. It is DELIGHTFULLY irritating. So I will keep playing it over and over until I am sure I have it. Even if it turns out I hate the story I will have gotten more than my money's worth.
Simon Vance is always perfect. He is the only actor of many books who has never ever let me down.
Ken Follet has a knack for making what should be boring stories really engaging. Banking in England in the 1870's yawn - but I was drawn in and hooked from go. It would have been better if there were fewer sex scenes in general, and fewer creepy abusive sex scenes in particular. I mean this story is set in Londontown of the 1870's but we never went to a music hall or saw a play and never heard what was for supper or had a visit from or to a tailor or a dressmaker. Went to the brothel ALOT though and we had a front row seat to every sexual encounter.
There is more to it - really it was a good story, and the characters were curiously interesting but it was IN SPITE of the over- reliance on one aspect of life.
I didn't listen to a sample when I saw this was read by Bronson Pinchot. I remember him as a good actor with a gift for voices. Well I don't know what happened but this is one of the worst listens I have ever heard. Its like the worst cartoon, painfully over acted with bad voices. The story is not well enough written to survive it. The dialog is clunky and the story is awkward. Its just bad. I like the Maddox books, spqr though I am sure the story would have been better served read by Simon Vance and love Ruth Downie and Colleen McCullough's rome books and Richard Harris with Cicero and Tiro to give u a sense of where I am coming from
Robert Jordan passed away about a year after I discovered this series on audible, I think I was on book 6.. Since I understand it was his wish the series be finished, we can be glad that wish has been fulfilled.
The first review here says it all really. This is an exhausting and bleak story and it ends when the fighting ends, which is a fault in my view. It is so bloody and dismal that I had nightmares, the kind that left me with a creepy feeling all day.
I dunno, I thought when I got into this series that there would be something profound about gender issues and power in the conclusion and I wanted to hear what it was. There isnt, the end is just the end.
The series as a whole .... it wanders too much and parts of it are boring, but then other parts of it are so engaging and wonderful, its a bit like a tv series where some episodes are great and you watch them over and over, and some are good and once in a while theres one that you dont like. but then all of you who are up to book 14 know that already .
RIP Mr Jordan, thanks for your stories.
I wrote a review of this book when it came out I wonder where it went. Like many others I find some of the vocal characterizations frustrating as compared with the first three books in this series. The first three books in this series had performances by Roy Dotirice that were so nuanced, powerful and practically perfect in every way ...... but that was 10 years ago when roy was only in his late 70's?
After a listened a few times, the first time or two is to get what happened, the next time or two is to really enjoy the story... the performance has grown on me. I have some issues with the story itself, there are parts I find boring and worse, implausable. But what matter? I am not giving up this far in.
This book started off well I thought, there was a great description of ceremony at the college of augers and I liked how the narrative used claudius to clue in the politics in much the same way the Rome HBO series used Octavian. But then the story just moves from one scene of sex abuse to another without anything else of note happening for HOURS. Sorry, no. ICK . I got the first book in this series years ago that was read by John Lee. All I remember about it was the rediculous and endless description of a winged phallus and the idea that if I had to hear John Lee over- enunciate the word Roma one more time I would die.
I shouldve heeded the warning the winged phallus offered, this story is not for me.
I lasted longer on this one because the performance was excellent. Too bad the story lacked substance.
Colleen Mcculough's Rome series is way more 3 dimensional. It is at the same time more enjoyable as fiction and more historically accurate. This book is ok, the performance is very good, were it any less good I wouldnt have bothered with the story. The narrative likes sword... um gladius strokes, way more than politics, or social history. I would estimate the word "gladius" is used 300 times in the first two books of this series, which I bought together.
There are no real discriptions of places, neither homes nor forts nor markets, there are no holidays or festivals, there are no debates. The one time we are invited to dine there is no food and no conversation, just the assertion that children should be still while eating and that Aurelia has a medical condition. This is what I mean by thin. The characterizations of men seem limited to how good they are at violence.
Aurelia, who is a favorite character in first man in rome, is reduced to a shadow, and a nasty one at that. Its the totally fictional bit players here that add interest for me. The historical figures are cardboardy. I dont see that this will get repeat listens
Having said all that, its not terrible, I am listening all the way through and I have not yet decided if I will finish the series, but that has more to do with the lack of new offeriings I want to hear just now than because I really like it. I wish audible would get the rights to sell the rest of the Mccullough books unabridged. And I cant wait for January when the new Ruso book comes out from Ruth Downie.
I am offering the comparison so that other listeners will understand my definition of great historical fiction. I know lots of people will see this as action packed and thrilling, its just not my favorite kind of thing
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