In this final volume of a towering work that is both literary masterpiece and living memorial to the untold millions of Soviet martyrs, Solzhenitsyn's epic narrative moves to its astounding and unforseen climax. We now see that this great cathedral of a book not only commemorates those massed victims but celebrates the unquenched spirit of resistance that flickered and then burst into flame even in Stalin's "special camps."
Part 5 contains some enlightening accounts of escapes from some of the camps and the results of them, and descriptions of prison revolts that began happening in the 1950’s.
Part 6 describes the conditions for prisoners when they were released – either to stay in the villages outside the camps or to go into exile. There isn’t much said about prisoners returning to whatever cities they had been taken from – apparently that didn’t happen much, and it wasn’t a very happy occasion when it did. Solzhenitsyn was quite ecstatic about being released to exile. When, after the death of Stalin, he was able to return to his home, he was reluctant to go.
The last part covers the Khrushchev years. At first, things appeared to be getting better – many prisoners were released, and conditions seemed to be improving somewhat. But after a time new waves of people were imprisoned and discipline was ratcheted up. The infamous Article 58 was done away with, but other provisions of the criminal code were made to take up the slack, and now instead of political prisoners, everybody was just regular criminals, even though the real reason for their imprisonment may just have been that somebody in power didn’t like them.
The Underdark. A place of brooding darkness, where no shadows exist, and where Drizzt Do'Urden does not wish to go. The noble dark elf must return there, though, he must go back to find his friends in the gnome city of Blingdenstone, and on to Menzoberranzan, the city of drow. Only then can Drizzt discern what perils might reach out from that dark place to threaten his friends in Mithril Hall.
I am continually amazed that R.A. Salvatore can keep coming up with interesting new plot lines for the Legend of Drizzt series. I think this is the eighth one I have listened to, and they are all great. And yes, those that happen in the Drow city of Menzoberranzan do seem to be in many ways the best. Something about that place, lighted by fairy light and home to so much backstabbing and intrigue among the various noble houses, is just deliciously spooky.
In this story, Drizzt, feeling that he was personally responsible for the attack on Mithril Hall chronicled in the previous book, The Legacy, decides that he must return to Menzoberranzon to somehow keep the Drow armies from coming back for him again. Cattie-Brie finds out where he has gone and determines to follow him – lucky for Drizzt.
Cattie-Brie makes a deal with Artemis Entreri, who, surprisingly, isn’t dead after all. Instead, he is working with the mercenary Jarlaxle. In exchange for his help in freeing Drizzt (who by this time is being tortured in anticipation of his being offered to Loth), she will help him return to the surface.
My only complaint about Victor Bevine’s narration is that sometimes when he is speaking as Drizzt, who is a generally soft-spoken character, unlike almost everyone else in the story, or when he is telling some easily overlooked and almost secret detail that will eventually prove to be the undoing of one of the bad guys, it is difficult to hear him over any extraneous environmental noise such as running water.
After discovering just how filled with magic, intrigue, and adventure the parahuman world of being an undead American can be, Fredrick Frankford Fletcher did exactly what was expected - he became a certified parahuman accountant. Myths and legends, as it turns out, are not so great at taking appropriate deductions and keeping their receipts, and Fred is more than happy to return to a life others view as woefully dull, expanding his accounting business to cater to various monsters.
Fred, the undead Vampire accountant, and his friends are back with new adventures. Fred has acquired his CPPA (Certified Paranormal Public Accountant). In the process of extending his accounting business to include monsters and other magical beings, Fred manages to get into a lot more trouble than you would think. Although it’s not always possible to avoid death and destruction in such dangerous situations, it is interesting how often Fred and his friends manage to work out win/win situations for all involved.
Kirby Heyborne did a great job voicing all the paranormal (and other) characters.
This second volume in Solzhenitsyn’s narrative chronicles the appalling inhumanity of the Soviets' "Destructive-Labor Camps" and the fate of prisoners in them—felling timber, building canals and railroads, and mining gold without equipment or adequate food or clothing, and subject always to the caprices of the camp authorities. Most tragic of all is the life of the women prisoners and the luckless children they bear.
Part 3 of The Gulag Archipelago is a detailed description of life in the work camps by means of a description of each type of prisoner (political prisoners, thieves, women), each type of prison employee (including camp administrators, guards, trustys, and brigade leaders – the last two being prisoners who were assigned administrative or leadership roles among the prisoners), and free citizen employees of the camps. There is also a description of the so-called educational (political education) and cultural activities of the camps.
Part 4, a comparatively short section, extolls the spiritual benefits of being in prison. Solzhenitsyn advances the idea (which I have also heard other places) that prison offers an unparalleled opportunity for spiritual development.
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Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own--an ability she didn't know she had.
In Mare Barrow’s world, there are two types of people – Reds and Silvers. Reds are your normal, red-blooded type people. Silvers have silver blood. They also have amazing, and frequently deadly, super abilities. They are able to control the Reds, and they rule with an iron hand.
Mare has been making her living as a thief and pickpocket because she has no special talent that will get her a job. As her eighteenth birthday approaches, she is looking at being drafted into the army, as this is what happens to Reds who are not otherwise gainfully employed.
After a particularly horrible day, she meets a young man at a nearby tavern, someone she thinks is another Red, and confesses all her troubles to him. The next day someone comes from the summer palace to order her to the palace where she has been given a job as a servant.
Her first assignment is waiting tables at an entertainment known as a Queen’s Trial. The daughters of all the noble houses display their superpowers in attempt to show how they would be best suited to marry the King’s sons. This is hardly a beauty contest. The last contestant – apparently the pre-determined winner – can manipulate metal. She pulls out the boxes of dining spectators on the lowest rung of the arena and in the process spills out Mare (who is in one of them removing glasses) into the arena ring and proceeds to attack her with flying metal rods. Mare puts up her hands in what appears to be a futile attempt to protect herself. But unexpectedly, she launches a burst of electricity at the rods and manages to stop them.
This gets her into all kinds of trouble. Not killed, as she expects. At least not right away. Instead, the King and Queen find it advisable to cover up the fact that they have found a Red with abilities equal to their own. They invent a new life story for Mare – she is the daughter of a long-dead Silver general who was raised by Reds and thought she was one until the episode in the arena. She is betrothed to the younger prince. The older prince, who has turned out to be the boy Mare met at the tavern, is betrothed to the metal-wielding girl.
Complicating matters is the Scarlet Guard, a group of rebels trying to take down the Silvers. Mare doesn’t hesitate to join them when they ask her almost right away. Her new fiancé, Maven, eagerly joins them as well, although Mare is suspicious of his doing so. He keeps helping the rebels and trying to be nice to Mare right up until it is revealed that he is his mother’s son after all and only in it to gain the throne for himself.
Good narration. The narrator was neither harsh nor whiney.
In this masterpiece, Solzhenitsyn has orchestrated thousands of incidents and individual histories into one narrative of unflagging power and momentum. Written in a tone that encompasses Olympian wrath, bitter calm, savage irony, and sheer comedy, it combines history, autobiography, documentary, and political analysis as it examines in its totality the Soviet apparatus of repression from its inception following the October Revolution of 1917.
In some ways, the opening parts of The Gulag Archipelago are a little on the boring side.
They consist of a long recital of the waves of political prisoners arrested between 1917 and somewhere around 1950. Then the author describes all the ways the government had of arresting their prisoners – whether one at a time or in large masses. Then comes a description of all the ways of torturing prisoners during interrogation – many of which, including starvation and sleep deprivation, allowed plausible deniability so that nobody could accuse the state of using physical torture on their prisoners.
Then there are the descriptions of the abysmal conditions in the jails themselves, and the various means of transport to the prison camps.
After a while, the constant recital of horrors begins to paint an overall picture of horror of its own. You start to wonder how there are any Russian people left at all, and why any country’s government would want to do this to so many of their citizens, often the best and brightest of them. The wonder is not that they had so much trouble meeting their economic goals, but that anything in the country (besides the prison system, of course) managed to work at all.
After barely escaping the machinations of his terrifying mother, two all-knowing seers, and countless bloodthirsty siblings, the last thing Julius wants to see is another dragon. Unfortunately for him, the only thing more dangerous than being a useless Heartstriker is being a useful one. Now that he's got an in with the Three Sisters, Julius has become a key pawn in Bethesda the Heartstriker's gamble to put her clan on top.
Enemies are in plentiful supply for Julius Heartstriker and his mage Marci in this book. They are forced to battle Vann Jeger, Algonquin’s dragon-slaying spirit, who wants a good fight with a serious dragon. It takes Julius, Marci, and Chelsie all working together to defeat him, and even then they almost don’t make it.
And then, Estella, the Northern Star, daughter of the Three Sisters, is out to get the entire Heartstriker clan. She has made an alliance with Algonquin (we finally get to see Algonquin at work in this book), sold her future, and I don’t know what all to be sure that she is able to wipe the entire clan, especially their seer, Brohomir, out.
Julius has managed to get Estella back a bit of her future, but she does not choose to use it to make a fresh start. Then Julius has to deal with his mother.
Just when it looks like the Heartstrikers will be able to start over with a new approach to running a Dragon Clan, the Three Sisters awaken to take revenge for Estella. But their assumption, not without reason, is that Algonquin did her in, so they attack the DFZ. But Algonquin slices them in half in mid-air, then declares war on all dragons everywhere. It looks as though the end of another Dragon world is on its way.
I read from both the Audible audiobook and the Kindle edition of this book. In this case, they did not whisper-sync with each other as they usually do.
Why we think it’s a great listen: An all-time Audible favorite that mixes historic fiction, adventure, and romance with one of the most fascinating literary devices: time travel. Outlander introduces an exhilarating world of heroism and breathtaking thrills as one woman is torn between past and present, passion and love. In 1945, former combat nurse Claire Randall returns from World War II and joins her husband for a second honeymoon. But their blissful reunion is shattered....
Claire Randall, formerly a combat nurse in World War II, and her husband Frank, who was differently employed during the war (a spy or code breaker or something) have come to Scotland shortly after the end of the war for a second honeymoon. While there, some of the local people point her to the location of a small henge (like Stonehenge, only small) in the area. On one occasion when she is visiting it she hears noises and attempts to hide in a cleft in one of the rocks, and suddenly finds herself in the year 1743 in the middle of a minor battle between Scottish raiders and English soldiers. The soldiers insult her and threaten to do much worse, so when the Scots take her off, she is not too disappointed. She uses her medical skills to treat one of the raiders who is injured, and they take her to their home castle with them.
Over time she comes to fit into the local life at the castle. She falls in love with the boy she first treated, although she doesn’t realize it until after they have been forced to marry, partly for political reasons. Her knowledge of medicine, coupled with the knowledge of herbal lore she learns mostly from the wise women of the castle and the nearby village and her new sister-in-law stand her in good stead as she is constantly in demand to treat the wounds and minor illnesses of those in the castle and her new husband’s farm.
The most frequent beneficiary of her medical skill, however, is her husband, James Fraser, who must be just about the most severely abused man in eighteenth-century Scotland. As he is, and remains, a fugitive from the English government, he is in constant danger of attack and capture from them, and whenever they catch him, they torture him horribly. Most of his not inconsiderable strength is consumed in enduring these tortures.
Claire and Jamie have numerous adventures. Claire sees the Loch Ness Monster (the locals call it a water horse, and tell tales of it). Later, this is introduced as evidence at her trial for witchcraft, which becomes the impetus for Jamie and Claire’s leaving the castle.
A well-told tale of love and lust, politics and everyday life, and war and torture in eighteenth-century Scotland. Very well-read by Davina Porter, who does the voices of the Scotsmen, as well as the young Claire surprisingly well.
The new audio edition of the self-published hit, offering powerful strategies to end procrastination!
Why do we sabotage our own best intentions? How can we eliminate procrastination from our lives for good? Based on current psychological research and supplemented with clear strategies for change, this concise guide will help listeners finally break free from self-destructive ideas and habits, and move into freedom and accomplishment.
Tells why we procrastinate, gives several excuses we use to justify procrastinating, and gives several mottos we can use to overcome our procrastination tendencies.
This classic tale is a fantastical fable of two dear friends - one of whom goes astray and is literally lost to the north woods, while the other undertakes an epic journey to rescue him. This charming, strange, and wonderful story is a timeless allegory about growing up and the challenges of staying true to one's self, and it served as the wintry inspiration for the blockbuster hit Frozen.
This was a Christmas freebie 2 or 3 years ago. So this year I am listening to it as one of my Christmas reads. Beautiful story and beautiful narration.