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Carol

Massachusetts
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  • Secrets in Death

  • By: J. D. Robb
  • Narrated by: Susan Ericksen
  • Length: 13 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,576
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3,195
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,171

The chic Manhattan nightspot Du Vin is not the kind of place Eve Dallas would usually patronize, and it's not the kind of bar where a lot of blood gets spilled. But that's exactly what happens one cold February evening.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Delightfully full of secrets!

  • By Kathryn on 09-05-17

Slow Burning Secrets

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-15-18

This is Book 45 in the "In Death" series. That's Forty. Five. A couple of years ago Audible calculated the total hours of listening time for all the series in their library, and "In Death" came in first, leaving Robert Jordan’s "Wheel of Time" series in the dust. So a lot of people like these books, and I'm one of them.

I picked up "Witness in Death" (that was In Death #10) years ago without knowing JD Robb = Nora Roberts—it was still a trade secret in the early 90s. There was something about WiD that drew me in, and on my next trip to NYC I hit the 3rd floor (of 6) in the sadly now-defunct B&N at Lincoln Center, where you could find everything, and splurged on all first 9 books (they were only mass market paperback back then, no hardcover or audio versions).

It’s now 25 years and a LOT of episodes later and Dallas, Roarke, Peabody, McNabb, Mavis, Commander Whitney, and many others have become my imaginary friends. I want Terrible Trina to do my hair and I wish I had Summerset to run my household. Today we all carry around the "pocket link communicators" that seemed futuristic in 1993. We have self-driving cars and voice-operated home systems that turn on the lights for us, just like Dallas has always had. I can only hope that Robb/Roberts turns out NOT to be accurate about the Urban Wars that ravaged the In Death world in the 2030s, some 30 years prior to when the series is set. The Urban Wars scenario seems all too plausible to me.

All this is by way of saying that this series is an amazing achievement, and my hat is off to the author. It's also a lead-in to addressing a complaint I’ve seen in reader/listener reviews of "Secrets in Death"--that "it’s slow" and "nothing much happens." There is some truth in these comments. The shocking (and bloody) murder of a blackmailing sociopath happens early, and Eve’s unraveling of the various threads in the case may make the procedural-dense plot seem tedious to some.

Life in New York City in 2061 progresses slowly—I think I once calculated that 10 books = 1 year. Most of the books do have character progression and change for at least one of the large cast of core characters, and perhaps some of the complaints stem from the fact that that did not seem to happen here, although Eve does undergo a subtle but important battle with her conscience (I’ll stop here, no spoilers). Everyone in the cast ends up pretty much where they started, but I enjoyed the trip.

For the Friends of Dallas and the Fans of Roarke (let’s face it, in Roarke Robb has created the Perfect Male, alas that such exists only in fiction), Secrets in Death has the usual tropes and interactions, which I personally find soothing. The book was like Eve and Roarke’s marriage—settling down. If this goes on for too long, I might get bored, but the series is still a must-read/listen for me, and after 45+ episodes, that’s REALLY saying something.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Ghost King

  • By: David Gemmell
  • Narrated by: Christian Rodska
  • Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 13
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 11

Chaos and terror stalk the land, the King slain by traitors, the great Sword of Power vanished beyond the Circle of Mist. Saxons, Angles, Jutes and Brigante tribesman mass together to destroy the realm, aided by the powers of the Witch Queen and the Lord of the Undead. Against them stand a weakling boy and an old mountain warrior. But the boy has the blood of kings, and the warrior is Culain, the legendary Lord of the Lance. And he alone knows the dread secret of the Witch Queen.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Even Better After All These Years

  • By Carol on 03-13-18

Even Better After All These Years

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-13-18

It’s not that often that something you remember fondly from 25 years ago is even better the second time around. I read "Ghost King" back in the early 90s, and I remember enjoying it, but I didn’t remember much of the plot except that it was a unique riiff on the characters of Camelot and also involved the Lost Legio IX of the Roman Imperial Army.

Many years and many Gemmell books later, this now strikes me as one of my all-time favorite author’s best books. The first of an epic-fantasy duology that melds vaguely Arthurian characters with the Gemmell-conceived Sipstrassi Stones of Power, it is full of page-turning adventure peppered with surprises. Gemmell’s quirk of giving the same character multiple identities in ways that make the plot twist in interesting and well-conceived ways is brilliantly used here.

In looking at reviews of "Ghost King" on Goodreads and Amazon, I noticed several people felt it was "rushed" and didn’t fully flesh out the characters. One reader noted that the leading character’s transition from frail, scholarly wimp to heroic swordsman happened unbelievably fast. (In fact, there is a throwaway line spoken by Maedlyn the Enchanter -- guess who that is in standard mythology -- that at least partly justifies the transformation.) I don’t agree with either assessment, perhaps because I read Gemmell’s epic fantasy novels long before experiencing the multi-volumes and millipages of the Martin/Sanderson era epics (and I like both those authors, especially Sanderson).

In the days before computers made word processing a relative snap, authors wrote less prolifically and often (IMHO) more carefully. If you are too young to have experienced the joy of retyping your handwritten draft of a 20-page history paper, you may not be able to fully appreciate this. Gemmell, who started as a newspaper journalist (me too) and bar bouncer (me never), undoubtedly typed his first manuscripts himself, and probably on a manual typewriter. The result in this case is a tight, well plotted novel told with maximum characterization and action, minimum embellishment, and maximum impact.

"Ghost King" stands alone, but the epilog (epilogs are another Gemmell trademark) sets up the sequel, "Last Sword of Power." Indeed, the ringing last sentence of the book pretty much leads right into the next one (but without cliff hangers). The Sipstrassi Stories continue after "Last Sword," but they jump a couple of millennia forward to the postapocolyptic world of Jon Shannow, the Jerusalem Man ("Wolf in Shadow" et al.). I was a little surprised to learn that "Wolf," which I reviewed on Audible recently, was actually written before "Ghost King." I guess Gemmell decided the Sipstrassi needed a backstory.

Christian Rodska narrates the Sipstrassi series, and does so brilliantly.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Wolf In Shadow

  • Jon Shannow, Book 1
  • By: David Gemmell
  • Narrated by: Christian Rodska
  • Length: 12 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41

It is 300 years since the world toppled on its axis and civilisation was destroyed. In this savagely reshaped world ruled by brigands and war makers, a rider seeks a lost city. Pursuing a dream to calm the violence in his soul, Jon Shannow, the brigand slayer, desires only peace. But from the Plague Lands emerges a fresh terror. The Lord of the Pit and his hell-born army seek to plunge mankind into a new demonic era. Seemingly invincible, they make a fatal mistake: they take Shannow's woman for blood sacrifice.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Wow! Whew… Whoa! and a little WTF?

  • By Carol on 12-30-17

Wow! Whew… Whoa! and a little WTF?

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-30-17

Where to start on this one? Wolf in Shadow is a postapocalyptic heroic fantasy western with gunslingers, farmer folk, eskimos, magic stones, and a superhero driven by (among other things) religion, the love of a good woman, and a compulsion to find the City of Jerusalem. Enough different tropes there for you? Throw in Atlantis and a few others that shall remain surprises.

I am a huge fan of David Gemmell’s books. This one, written in 1987, is not typical. It is not 'historical fantasy' (Lion of Macedon, the Troy trilogy) or set in a medieval Earth-based fantasy world (the Drenai books and others). Its setting is a postapocalyptic, near-future Earth. The apocalypse was Earth tipping on its axis, with civilization (and most people) having been destroyed in massive floods as oceans and land masses switched places.

Why the people who are left should have become a society like that of the 18th century American West is never explained, other than by the fact that David Gemmell apparently grew up with an obsession for American western movies. Jon Shannow, the Jerusalem Man, arrives toting a gun and a Bible, in scenes vaguely reminiscent of the classic film 'Shane.' I can’t even begin to describe the events that follow. They come fast and furious, with constant action and unexpected twists and turns.

This is the third book set in world where magic is generated by golden Sipstrassi “stones of power.” The first two, “Ghost King” and “Last Sword of Power,” are loosely (*very* loosely) based on Arthurian legend, so there is a major jump in time. I recommend reading the first two--which are more typical of Gemmell’s style--first, especially Last Sword of Power, for reasons I won't explain due to spoiler potential.

I found Jon Shannow and his sidekick Batik unique, fascinating, and fully developed characters. I really enjoyed the book, even though it pulled too many rabbits out of hats (or, if you prefer, deuses out of machinas). It’s a breathless whirl of action that, in the final climactic battle, become a little Too Much--hence the WTF factor. The epilogue is highly satisfying, though, and the Shannow saga should have ended there, which I’ve read was what Gemmell originally intended. However, he went on to write two sequels. I read “The Last Guardian” years ago and did not like it and never bothered with the final one, “Bloodstone.”

The narrator is Christian Rodska. I think he's a great narrator and here he does a terrific job with a wide range of characters. However, I note that on Audible UK, a reviewer has taken the trouble to post a rather nasty diatribe about the narration under all three Shannow books, so I guess some people don’t agree with me, and you’d better listen to the narration sample.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • A Mackenzie Family Christmas: The Perfect Gift

  • Highland Pleasures Series, Book 4.5
  • By: Jennifer Ashley
  • Narrated by: Angela Dawe
  • Length: 5 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 513
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 477
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 476

The Mackenzies gather for a clan Christmas and Hogmanay in Scotland. In the chaos of preparations for the celebration - the first of Hart and Eleanor's married life - one of Ian's Ming bowls gets broken, and the family scrambles to save the day. Daniel busily runs a betting ring for everything from the hour Eleanor's baby will arrive, to whether Mac's former-pugilist valet can win a boxing match, to who will be the first of the many guests to be caught under the mistletoe.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Charming and beautifully crafted

  • By Carol on 12-21-17

Charming and beautifully crafted

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-21-17

If you've read and enjoyed the first four books of this series, I'm pretty sure you'll find this story is a delightful gift. Each of the four brothers gets a piece of the action, although it mainly revolves around Ian and his idiosyncracies (and you do need to have read "The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie" in order to "get it").

Jennifer Ashley does an noteworthy job of crafting a Christmas story that advances the characters and doesn't feel like a tacked-on "holiday special." It even has moments with the more minor characters--Daniel Mackenzie, Inspector Fellowes, and the MacBride brothers--that foreshadow books to come in the series.

Angela Dawe isn't my favorite narrator, but she suits this series, and has definitely captured the distinct personalities of each of the four brothers.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Home

  • Myron Bolitar Series, Book 11
  • By: Harlan Coben
  • Narrated by: Steven Weber
  • Length: 9 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,066
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,650
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,623

A decade ago, kidnappers grabbed two boys from wealthy families and demanded ransom, then went silent. No trace of the boys ever surfaced. For 10 years their families have been left with nothing but painful memories and a quiet desperation for the day that has finally, miraculously arrived: Myron Bolitar and his friend Win believe they have located one of the boys, now a teenager. Where has he been for 10 years, and what does he know about the day, more than half a life ago, when he was taken?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Win comes home. So does Harlan Coben.

  • By Carol on 10-26-17

Win comes home. So does Harlan Coben.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-26-17

I enjoyed the first 6-7 books in this series, but the last few got too dark and depressing. Then Coben wrote out Winsor Horne Lockwood III. Now, I don't know why an effete-looking but brutally accomplished assassin, a semisociopath who also has access to his family's billions, should be the most engrossing character in the book. But he's the perfect foil to brooding do-gooder (but also brutally accomplished and anything but effete) Myron Bolitar, and without him the stories don't work as well.

Now Win is back "Home" and the series is back on track. Win even narrates part of this one. It's a great mystery that hangs together right through the ending. Coben's standalones often get so convoluted as to be unbelievable (and sometimes un-followable), but this story's secrets and twists all work. I really liked Steven Weber's narration; different from Marosz, who did the early books, but very easy to listen to.

"Home" is not exactly a happy book--books dealing with kidnapping, the sex trade, and other nasty things can't be. But ultimately it is an engrossing, occasionally thrilling ride. The mystery is tied up within the book, but an epilogue opens a door to new avenues for Myron and Win (and the younger set, Mickey, Ema, and Spoon). I hope Coben, an accomplished novelist, chooses to explore them. And keep Win in the picture!

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Warbreaker

  • By: Brandon Sanderson
  • Narrated by: Alyssa Bresnahan
  • Length: 24 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,107
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,408
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,402

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn't like his job, and the immortal who's still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago. Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren's capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can be collected only one unit at a time.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My Favorite Sanderson Yet

  • By Carol on 09-10-17

My Favorite Sanderson Yet

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-10-17

First of all, I'd like to thank whoever arranged to re-record this book with Alyssa Bresnahan as narrator. The book's description always intrigued me, but I didn't like the original narrator (at least based on the sample I heard), so didn't purchase it--until the re-record. I'm glad I waited. Bresnahan is terrific.

Brandon Sanderson is also terrific. My introduction to his work was “Way of Kings,” which is kind of jumping in the deep end. I had to read it twice but I loved it and its sequel “Words of Radiance” (with, apparently, much more to come).

“Warbreaker” is part of the same fantasy world as “Kings” and “Mistborn”—what Sanderson (and his fans) call the Cosmere--but it is a standalone. It is also more of a romance than “Kings” and more upbeat than the Mistborn trilogy. But this doesn't mean it's a romance novel, or that it doesn't have a lot of violent and hard-edged moments.

I just thoroughly enjoyed the book from start to finish, especially the character of Lightsong. It's funny, action-packed, sad, thought-provoking, and unpredictable. The ending is satisfying if bittersweet. It leaves the way open for a return of some of the characters, but also provides closure so we don't necessarily need them to return.

31 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • A Question of Inheritance

  • A Very English Mystery, Book 2
  • By: Elizabeth Edmondson
  • Narrated by: Michael Page
  • Length: 8 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,457
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,322
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,313

Hugo Hawksworth is on the tail of rogue Cold War agents at a top-secret government facility, while back home at Selchester Castle they're awaiting the arrival of the new earl - an American, the long-lost son of the murdered Lord Selchester.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Cozy Mystery

  • By Simone on 06-12-16

A Sequel Is Anticipated

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-04-17

I enjoyed the first book in this series, “A Man of Some Repute,” and immediately downloaded “A Question of Inheritance.” Both these books are billed as “A Very English Mystery,” and that is truth in advertising. Brit-bashers need not bother. They are sort of cozies, but are well written and have an edge to them.

I was looking forward to “Inheritance” until I learned that the author, Elizabeth Edmondson, died somewhat suddenly in early 2016. I put off listening to it because I was afraid it would end with a cliffhanger and no subsequent books. I finally listened to “Inheritance” this summer and thought it was even better than the first book.

As revealed at the end of “Some Repute,” the dastardly Earl of Selchester did not, as had been thought, die without a male heir. Turns out a secret marriage to a young French woman during the aftermath of World War I resulted in a legitimate but unacknowledged son who, after his mother’s death in childbirth, was raised by relatives in the U.S. This son, now a history professor and a widower with two teen-age daughters, is as shocked as everyone else to learn that he is heir to an earldom and a castle in the north England town of Selchester.

Having given up his US citizenship and jumped through a zillion legal hoops, the new earl arrives at Selchester Castle shortly before Christmas 1952. The culture shock of this “Yank,” who cringes at being addressed as “m’lord” and knows how to fix his own fuse box, is well portrayed.

Selchester is a fictional village and home to two top-secret government establishments. One is an outpost of MI6, the British foreign intelligence service, and the other is referred to by the locals—who aren’t supposed to know the reality, but of course they know everything—as “the atomic.”

Hugo Hawksworth, the hero of both books, works for MI6. Forced into a desk job after his WWII intelligence service got him shot and battered, he’s surprised to find his new life anything but dull. “A Question of Inheritance” is a unique take on the English Christmas Country House novel. The flavor of Britain in the early 50s is vivid, and an interesting escape from our world of instant communication and the Internet. Hugo’s work involves painstaking searches through archives of photos, documents, and old newspaper clippings—work most of us today would, I think, find unimaginable (and intolerable).

Now the big question. Is there a cliffhanger? Yes and no. The murder in this “Question of Inheritance” is solved and resolved, but certain ongoing questions that arose in the first book continue to be mysterious. Hugo’s relationship with Fiona, niece of the deceased earl, is moving forward but still not fully acknowledged and certainly not consummated. (The pace of relationships was, shall we say, slower in the 50s.) The three girls—the new earl’s very American daughters and Hugo’s sister, who I find to be the most interesting characters in the book—are about to start on new adventures in education. And the book ends with the local postman bringing the news that a scientist from “the atomic” has just gone missing—news he imparts a few minutes before Hugo’s MI6 superior calls to inform Hugo of this supposedly top-secret disappearance.

The publisher’s website now says that there will be a Book 3, due out in fall 2017: “…Anselm Audley, Lizzy’s son and editor of A Man of Some Repute and A Question of Inheritance [will] finish the third Selchester novel ... based on her extensive notes, conversations in the last weeks of her life, and the existing early scenes ... Publication is scheduled for September 2017.” I hope Book 3 does come out soon, and that it’s as good as the first two, and that Audible will get it, and that the wonderful Michael Page will again narrate.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Barrayar

  • A Vorkosigan Adventure
  • By: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 11 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,247
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,687
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,685

In the wake of interplanetary war, former commander Cordelia Naismith has deserted her own planet to marry the leader of the defeated enemy, Aral Vorkosigan. On his home planet of Barrayar, two rival factions are eyeing the recently vacated throne, and Aral, recently appointed Regent of Barrayar by the Emperor on his deathbed, must stand between them. Lord and Lady Vorkosigan, Aral and Cordelia struggle to establish stability in a fragile government thrown into confusion by the transition of power.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Lois Bujold always delivers!

  • By Karen S. Coyle on 02-04-10

Go Bujold!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-09-17

I admit it. I'm a fangirl. I love Lois McMaster Bujold's books. The Chalion books are great, and even the "Sharing Knife" quartet isn't bad, although a little on the YA side for my taste.

But it's the Vorkosigans of Barrayar who really shine for me, and even though most of the books feature Miles Vorkosigan as the protagonist, his parents Cordelia Naismith and Count Aral Vorkosigan have always been at the heart of the saga, even when they aren't on stage. Their story is told in "Shards of Honor" and "Barrayar."

Although Audible lists "Barrayar" as Book 3 in the series, it's actually Book 2. "Falling Free," listed as Book 1, is a standalone prequel that bears little if any relationship to the rest of the series. The story really starts with "Shards of Honor," which is a science fiction-military action-conspiracy-political thriller "space opera" that is also one of the great love stories of all time. Yes, it's from early in Bujold's career and has some weak spots. But it's fantastic. Listen to it first, and then dive right into "Barrayar," which picks up pretty much where "Shards" leaves off.

"Barrayar" portrays the events that will quite literally shape the life of Miles Vorkosigan and Emperor Gregor Vorbarra as the series continues. The social caste system of Barrayar--a fascinating mix of futurism and feudalism--is vivid. The characters are amazing. The relationship of Count Pytor Vorkosigan to his son Aral and his new daughter-in-law Cordelia (and their son Miles, even in utero) is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Kind of like real life.

Heroism and treachery, politics and family, love and war, life and death--it's all here. And narrator Grover Gardner is Grover Great!

P.S. For anyone who looks for strong but very realistic female leads, look no further than Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Legend

  • Drenai, Book 1
  • By: David Gemmell
  • Narrated by: Sean Barrett
  • Length: 13 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 427
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 410
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 407

Druss, Captain of the Axe: the stories of his life were told everywhere. Instead of the wealth and fame he could have claimed, he had chosen a mountain lair, high in the lonely country bordering on the clouds. There the grizzled old warrior kept company with snow leopards and awaited his old enemy, death.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Two Legends Come to Audible

  • By Carol on 06-26-17

Two Legends Come to Audible

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-26-17

In the early 90’s, back when there were still bookstores to browse in, I picked up a copy of David Gemmell’s “Lion of Macedon” because I thought it was about one of my favorite historical figures, Alexander the Great. Well, it was and it wasn’t, but it was a great book and I went on to read “Legend," Gemmell’s first published book, and then pretty much everything else he wrote (which was a lot) before his premature death in 2006.

These books introduced me to heroic fantasy and led me into Guy Gavriel Kay and later G.R.R. Martin, Michael J. Sullivan, and Brandon Sanderson. The shifting POV that is prevalent in all these authors' works, the mixture of magic grounded in a world that is often recognizable (“history shifted 25% to the fantastical,” as I believe Kay has said), the many shades of gray between black and white—all these are present in Gemmell’s books, which now, finally, are coming to Audible. Hooray!

In “Legend,” the fort of Dros Delnoch stands between the Drenai civilization and devastation. It is undermanned and soon to be under siege by the “barbarian” Nadir under their leader Ulrich. The earl in command of Dros Delnoch has sent out two desperate pleas, one to “The 30,” an order of (surprise) 30 warrior monks with both physical and supernatural gifts; and a second plea to the legendary hero “Druss of the Axe.” The tales say Druss and his axe Skaga together once turned back an invading army of thousands. The earl, who was at that battle, knows it’s somewhat but not really true, but he needs someone to restore morale and stop the desertions. Now 60 years old, Druss is called upon for one more epic stand.

Once you know Gemmell admitted to a fascination with the Battle of the Alamo, the general outline of the story of the book won’t be a surprise, although its outcome might be.

Gemmell’s books are less poetic that Guy Gavriel Kay’s and (thankfully) less dismally violent than George R.R. Martin’s. In all Gemmell’s books, the underlying metaphysical battle concerns the balance between Creation (“the Source”) and Chaos, between life and destruction. There is also the Void, a gray and dismal state of stasis (purgatory?). There is a hopeful note in most of these books that I find is lacking in today's postapocalyptic fantasy.

As a first novel, “Legend” definitely has flaws, but it sets the stage for the “Drenai tales,” one of several series and a number of stand-alones the prolific Gemmell wrote. The Drenai books (I’ve listed them below) don’t have to be read in order, and the last few are, in my opinion, not all that good--along with some great stuff, Gemmell penned several 2-star stinkers. The different books take place backward and forward in Drenai history. “Legend” is the starting point, and I think it forms a rather amazing trilogy with two of the other books, which I’ve noted (it’s just my opinion, but together the three close a circle).

Tales of the Drenai:
1. Legend (1984) – Read this one FIRST.
2. The King Beyond the Gate (1985)
3. Waylander (1986)—the "wayback" story to Legend and the SECOND in my “trilogy” (but note Audible carries the French translation, so be careful ☺)
4. Quest for Lost Heroes (1990)
5. Waylander II: In the Realm of the Wolf (1992) Ya gotta read “Waylander” first!!
6. The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend (1993)
7. The Legend of Deathwalker (1996) THIRD in my “trilogy”
8. Winter Warriors (1996)
9. Hero in the Shadows (2000)
10. White Wolf (2003) (Skilganon the Damned Book 1)
11. The Swords of Night and Day (2004) (The Damned Book 2)

As for the narration of “Legend,” Sean Barrett is a fine British voice actor who keeps the energy up and the melodrama down. I’m definitely looking forward to more Gemmell, which Audible already listed on preorder.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • The Einstein Prophecy

  • By: Robert Masello
  • Narrated by: Christopher Lane
  • Length: 11 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,622
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,156
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4,144

As war rages in 1944, young army lieutenant Lucas Athan recovers a sarcophagus excavated from an Egyptian tomb. Shipped to Princeton University for study, the box contains mysteries that only Lucas, aided by brilliant archaeologist Simone Rashid, can unlock. These mysteries may, in fact, defy - or fulfill - the dire prophecies of Albert Einstein himself.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • It is a Sci-Fi Thriller after all.

  • By The Kindler on 03-27-16

Really, Professor?

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-15-17

Who knew Professor Einstein could be this much fun? He along with with some other historical figures shine, and their fictional antics carry the rather insipid fictional leads in this sort-of horror story.

Opening shortly after D-Day in 1944 and ending on VJ day a little over a year later, it's the tale of an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus looted by the Nazis, in which Hitler has displayed a special interest. It's recovered along with other art treasures by a young officer assigned to the Cultural Recovery Commission (the "Monument Men" of the movie). The mission winds up with our hero Lucas wounded, and the main story starts a few months later, after his recovery and return to his alma mater, Princeton, this time as an assistant professor.

Three things drive the story: (1) Lucas's boarding house happens to be across the street from Albert Einstein's Princeton home; (2) the sarcophagus, which the Army has classified top secret, winds up at Princeton and in Lucas's charge; and (3) a beautiful Anglo-Egyptian woman with an Oxford PhD shows up. Then the horror story kicks in.

At one point an FBI agent says to Lucas "For a Princeton professor, you're pretty slow." This sums up the story's flaw. Both Lucas and the beautiful Egyptologist behave so stupidly in the face of what is obviously (even to them) supernatural danger that I'm forced to believe Masiello, a good writer, was just trying to drag the story out.

But the scenes with Einstein more than make up for any story lapses. I also enjoyed the "backstory" of St. Anthony of Egypt, another historical figure (though long deceased). The ending came together well, and all in it's an entertaining light read if you like this kind of adventure/horror mix.

Very good narration by Christopher Lane adds to the enjoyment.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful