©2008 Brent Weeks; (P)2009 Tantor
The narrator tried for too much pathos. It got wearing after a while, and it's hard to immerse yourself in a story where everything is delivered breathlessly.
My favorite books are science fiction, fantasy, and a combination of the two. I love listening to audiobooks on long distance runs.
I would not try another book from Brent Weeks.
There are some genuinely interesting ideas in this book. Unfortunately, the book suffers from quite bad characterization, and ridiculous amounts of sexism.
Massive gaps are left in the story. This is interesting when the reader is intended to infer things from the narrative. It is not interesting when it leaves out any depth of characterization. For example, we know Azoth and Jarl, as well as Logan and Kylar, are friends because we are TOLD they are. Almost any scene that would establish this fact is left largely to our own imaginations.
Worse still, practically every female character (at least every female character worth describing) is described as beautiful, with very large breasts ("six feet of breasts" in one case... whatever that means), and defined entirely by the Virgin/Whore dichotomy. It is as if there is literally nothing else about them the reader needs to know. By the end of the book, a new female character's breasts are the only detail the author deems worth noting about them. I laughed out loud at the sheer ridiculousness of it by the mid-point.
The only other thing I will add about the over the top sexism is that the primary female character is virtually "fridged" in the opening chapters. By definition the sole purpose of this event is to further the male protagonist's plot, and that's just lazy, bad writing.
It is too bad really. If the author had deleted the vast swathes of text devoted to describing beauty, curves, and breasts; he might have had space to provide detail and life to all of the characters. Instead we have a collection of cardboard cutouts defined by single words (assassin, orphan, prince) and their props (virgins and whores). This would have been fantastic, because there are several characters with real potential, but they never really advance, and we never really learn anything about them.
As it is, instead of getting a story, the author tells us a plot, in fits and starts.
Also, if the villains weren't rapists, child abusers, and much worse; I might root for them instead, because they are actually effective, and have long term plans and goals. The protagonists spend the majority of the book clutching their brows and hesitating for extreme lengths of time, until the flow of events finally forces them to action.
I would not listen to anything by Brent Weeks again.
The narrator was passable. Not bad. Not great. He frequently used the same voice for different characters. This would be fine, but he frequently does it when the characters are talking to each other.
If I were the editor, I would remove most of the expository describing how beautiful, curvaceous, and busty every single female character was, and flesh out all the main characters in detail.
This book is bad. Just bad. It gets so bad, that I started laughing out loud toward the end. Particularly every time a new female character is described. Again, I cannot state enough how disappointing this is, because much of the background and world building seems very, very interesting. But it isn't worth wading through drivel to get to it.
Looking for new titles to listen to any suggestions?
It is interesting what you find when you listen to this book while in a state of introspection and find so many things that help you get through the morass a doubt and confusion that you have in life.
This story is like your most disappointing and frustrating sexual experience.
Several times in the narrative it promised pleasure and each time it just turned into self-conscious bumbling.
The dialogue is forced and
Uncomfortable, the vulgarity is juvenile.
The experience completely forgettable.
> When I listened to this it was hard to grasp who is the protagonist, who is the good guy who is the bad, what are the character's motives, where the story is taking place.
> The writer has poor naming sense.
> Although the book is dark it isn't depressing.
> Death in the story has meaning to it
> Lots of cliches
> An excellent read for those in middleschool or highschool
> Not as good as Patrick Rothfuss's King Killer Chronicles.
The good news is that the story line is interesting and cohesive. The bad news is, unfortunately, everything else. The characters are idealized stereotypes. Their reactions to people and situations bear no relationship to real people and real situations. It's as though a 14 year old wrote the dialogue. Which brings us to the narration. Mr. Boehmer has three modes of reading: (i) evangelical descriptions of the characters emotional reactions; very breathy, very long winded, very unnecessary; (ii) descriptions of places and events; monotone like reading the instruction manual for a video player; and (iii) long transitions; monotone, slowly read regardless of the pace of the story. None are pleasant. All are drawn out. On balance, I don't believe the story line is so good that it is worth what you have to go through.
The story was what I expected, and very reminiscent of the genre 30 years ago. The story and action are fun! A gamer can almost hear the dice rolls as the characters enter confrontations. (Not saying it was based on a game, just that it had the action and tension.)
As others have mentioned, the characters are a little flat. The female characters stood like cardboard cutouts propped up in an otherwise 3D world. But hey, some folks see the world that way, and perhaps it's good to be reminded of this fact. This book is mostly about the world and story, which had enjoyable substance.
While some reviewers found this book to be gory, it could readily be deemed realistic. When people are stabbed, there is blood. Death is messy, and death by blades is bloody. In a story about assassins, realism demands some gore. Compared to the movies, no, this is not a G-rated story about killers. It seems likely that a movie of this book would have much more gore than this book.
Judging by the narration, it's hard to tell anything about Weeks writing. The story was read with a choppy, intense cadence that flowed well with the action scenes, but felt relentless and harsh in its pervasiveness. The only exception was the occasional character dialog which, thankfully, sounded natural. This odd cadence was fine for one book, especially when expected after reading reviews; however, it is too pronounced and uncomfortable for this listener to move on to the next book.
The story of our main character's ascent from street urchin to the most formidable assassin is truly gripping.
Nobody's hands are absolutely clean in this. It's a brutal world and all of the characters in it are doing what they have to do to survive and occasionally, thrive. There is no squeaky clean good guy, and even the vilest of the villains have more depth than just cardboard cut outs. There is a brooding pessimism hanging around this story. The worst in human nature is so openly displayed, that the shining moments really shine.
I'm not really crazy about this narrator. I don't like his voice or the way he reads for this. Try as he might, He comes off sort of flat. It's not that he's a bad narrator, but I think this was an ill suited book for him.
This book kept me in very good company for a long trip.
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