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Patremagne @ 'A Bitter Draft' - Speculative Fiction reviews and things

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  • Circe

  • By: Madeline Miller
  • Narrated by: Perdita Weeks
  • Length: 12 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,075
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 12,234
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,161

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child - not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring, like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power - the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Refined writing with an intimate performance

  • By Michael - Audible Editor on 04-11-18

Wonderfully written, beautifully narrated

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

Reviewed: 05-08-18

Madeline Miller has quite a way with words, and Perdita Weeks has a captivating voice.

  • The Shadow Throne

  • Book Two of the Shadow Campaigns
  • By: Django Wexler
  • Narrated by: Richard Poe
  • Length: 21 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 445
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 413
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 413

Anyone can plot a coup or fire an assassin's bullet. But in a world of muskets and magic, it takes considerably more to seize the throne. The ailing King of the Vordan lies on his deathbed. When he dies, his daughter, Raesinia Orboan, will become the first Queen Regnant in centuries - and a ripe target for the ambitious men who seek to control her. The most dangerous of these is Duke Orlanko, Minister of Information and master of the secret police.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • What a great book!

  • By Bob-o on 08-01-14

Not as strong as the first.

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

Reviewed: 08-16-15

Any additional comments?

I don't really know what to rate this, but it's somewhere between 3 and 4, though I may round up to 4 at some point because it was entertaining.

I also don't know when I got so critical, but here are the main issues I had:

Orlanko was painfully two-dimensional, almost straight out of a cartoon, so much so that I had no issue imagining him twirling a great moustache beneath his gigantic spectacles. I had trouble seeing any motivation behind his actions other than the fact he's a bad dude who wants to fuck shit up.

Very vague spoilers, as these two were fairly predictable
(view spoiler)

Repetition: Maybe since I saw the post on Reddit about how many times Wexler uses "make preparations" in the book my brain has been tuned into it, but I lost count of the amount of times I heard "small of her back". And I swear, if I didn't know otherwise, I'd think Janus was a Vulkan based on how many times he says "logic".

Janus was, as I've seen others remark, a total Gary Stu, but it's for that reason that I loved him. All in all I did enjoy the book, as it had great action and mostly good characters, but with some reservations. Maybe someone can share some insight that I missed while listening, as that can happen with audiobooks.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Lawrence in Arabia

  • War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East
  • By: Scott Anderson
  • Narrated by: Malcolm Hillgartner
  • Length: 23 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,022
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,812
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,810

Based on four years of intensive primary document research, Lawrence in Arabiadefinitively overturns received wisdom on how the modern Middle East was formed. Sweeping in its action, keen in its portraiture, acid in its condemnation of the destruction wrought by European colonial plots, this is a book that brilliantly captures the way in which the folly of the past creates the anguish of the present.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Middle East Built on Lies

  • By carolyn on 12-19-13

Lawrence brought back to life

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

Reviewed: 06-24-15

One of the most enigmatic figures in modern history, T.E Lawrence is brought back to life in Anderson's work detailing how Lawrence came to be what he is today in the minds of anyone who has read of him: the British desert warrior with piercing blue eyes who played an integral role in World War I and the Arab Revolt, right down to his depressed, lonely death while suffering from one of the most clear forms of PTSD I've ever encountered.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Empires of the Sea

  • The Contest for the Center of the World
  • By: Roger Crowley
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 11 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 774
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 545
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 547

Empires of the Sea tells the story of the 50-year world war between Islam and Christianity for the Mediterranean: one of the fiercest and most influential contests in European history. It traces events from the appearance on the world stage of Suleiman the Magnificent through "the years of devastation" when it seemed possible that Islam might master the whole sea, to the final brief flourishing of a united Christendom in 1571.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant detail, exciting story

  • By Tad Davis on 08-17-08

Historical non-fiction at its best!

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

Reviewed: 02-17-15

Any additional comments?

The centuries-long conflict between East and West, Muslim and Christian, comes to a head in the Sixteenth century Mediterranean Sea. Crowley details the fascinating rivalry between Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, and Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire. Their greatest victories, their most ignominious defeats, and everything in between are brought up at one point or another.

The Great Siege of Malta, as reviewers all over the place say, is a point in time that begs to be adapted by any entertainment medium. Somewhere around 7,000 Christians made a heroic stand against upwards of three times their number in the great fortress-island of Malta. Led by Grandmaster Jean de Valette of the Knights Hospitaller, the very citizens themselves put forth the most effort, according to Crowley, in defense of their home and hearth. Crowley definitely stresses Philip II of Spain's epithet: the Prudent, in relation to the great siege. The course of history has proven that Christendom is utterly incapable of uniting for a common cause, and it's fascinating to see how down to the wire the siege was due to Philip's extreme cautiousness.

Andrea Vicentino’s 1603 painting in the Palazzo Ducale in Venice depicts the sea of blood and corpses, the cluster of galleys.

The Holy League, vigorously promoted by Pope Pius V, in the spirit of "united" Christendom, which took ages to even have the various Christian rulers assent to involvement, finally took to the sea at the Battle of Lepanto is the culmination of the period, where the Christian fleet shattered the larger Ottoman navy in a battle of nearly 500 ships. The young Ritter Johann von Österreich, commonly known as Don Juan of Austria, just 24 at the time, led the massive coalition fleet that included Miguel de Cervantes to the great battle against Ali Pasha, the Grand Admiral of the Ottoman Navy, and very much a mirror image of Juan himself. Juan's leadership inspired G.K. Chesterton's 1911 poem, named after the eponymous battle.

Crowley lays out a detailed (surprising for its length) narration and analysis of the Mediterranean between the Siege of Rhodes in 1522 and Lepanto in 1571 - not particularly favoring one side or the other, though it is difficult as a reader not to feel some sort of good at sieges where the defenders are hugely outnumbered. The narration itself is bloody and the bodies pile up in masses, turning the very sea that the galleys slice through crimson.

This is historical non-fiction at its best, with a strong, flowing narrative style that brings the characters of both sides back to life in a readable amount of pages (though I listened to the audiobook), complete with stats and strategies for military history buffs all the while remaining exciting as hell to read. Empires of the Sea only scratches the surface of the nearly three hundred year conflict.