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Patrick Marstall

Chantilly, VA USA
  • 18
  • reviews
  • 155
  • helpful votes
  • 33
  • ratings
  • Heavier Than a Mountain

  • Destiny's Crucible, Book 3
  • By: Olan Thorensen
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 21 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,840
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,628
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,622

A freak accident casts Joe Colsco naked onto another planet inhabited by humans with technology circa 1700. In time, Joe, now known as Yozef Kolsko, makes the difficult acceptance of a new life. But he has become embroiled in a struggle beyond any dream he could have had. The Narthani are a militant society intent on subjugating the Caedelli, the people he's come to identify with. Unwittingly, the Narthani themselves are creating an opponent unlike any they have ever faced, an enemy beyond their conceptions.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • And Even Heavier to Read

  • By Kurt Schwoppe on 10-15-17

Constantly Improving

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

Reviewed: 10-16-17

This is kind of my “guilty pleasure” series of the moment. It's really not that good, but at the same time, I’m having a great time listening to it. The prose is fine and the characters are decent, but the plotting and pacing (and even time-lines) are all over the place with lots of unnecessary repetition and exposition (though slightly less than in previous books). If you’ve made it through the first two books, you’ll find this one is pretty good.

Thorensen’s action sequences are great and he has obviously done an obsessive level of planning and world-building, but it’s a slog to get through the first two-thirds of the book before anything exciting happens. This book was especially painful because the innovations that the main character introduces (the core driver of the story) are all procedural rather than scientific. It turns out that listening to someone instill modern program management techniques into a more primitive society isn't as exciting as it sounds.

The sequences with the enemy POV are a little better this time around. At least they’re not endlessly briefing themselves on stuff shown in the previous chapters. I still don’t care much about them though.

I reckon a couple passes by a competent editor could turn the series into something really special. Here’s hoping that the success of the series leads to that level of professionalism.

Jonathan Davis does a good job (as always), and the production values this time around are much higher than in the previous audiobook.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Dungeon Born

  • Divine Dungeon Series, Book 1
  • By: Dakota Krout
  • Narrated by: Vikas Adam
  • Length: 12 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,527
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,062
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,035

For eons, conquering dungeons has been the most efficient way to become a strong adventurer. Although not everything is as straightforward as it seems. Several questions have always plagued the minds of those who enter these mythical places of power: why are there so many monsters? Where do the amazing weaponry and heavy gold coins come from? Why does the very air fill with life-giving energies? Cal has all of the answers to these age-old questions, for a very simple reason. He is a Dungeon Heart.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Gem in the RPG/Fantasy Genre

  • By SirMehr on 04-01-17

Too Much Technical World-Building

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

Reviewed: 09-28-17

First off, I didn't know there was a sub-genre called "LitRPG" before reading this. It wouldn't have changed my overall feelings if I had, but read this review with the caveat that I kinda stumbled into this unawares.

Krout tries to construct a world where a MMOG-style dungeon - complete with respawning mobs and "leveling" - makes logical sense, and then he tries to build a world and economy on top of it, and finally he tries to use that as a setting for a story. Unfortunately, it pretty much fails on several levels (pun not intended).

The author has a magic and power system that he has obviously painstakingly conceived of and mapped out. Unfortunately, he spends a VAST portion of the book laying out that system in mind-numbing detail to the reader... when it really does little to advance the story in any meaningful way. Honest-to-god, for the first few chapters I really suspected I was listening to a screenplay/tutorial for "Dungeon Keeper" where they put a thin narrative on top of the tedious rules-lecture.

Eventually the author adds some characters, and I guess it could be argued that there is some incidental character growth scattered among the (pretty well-written) action sequences and long, mechanical descriptions of "dinging!" a level or three.

The whole mess isn't helped much by the narrator. Vikas Adam does a great job with pacing and different voices, but all of them are overly-exaggerated and would sound at home in a "Strawberry Shortcake" cartoon on Saturday morning. I know the story was supposed to be kind of intentionally campy, but the voices drove it down into infantile cheese.

The best thing I can say about it is that I have the urge to play the original Dungeon Keeper again... I think I still have the disks around somewhere.

  • The Pen and the Sword

  • Destiny's Crucible, Book 2
  • By: Olan Thorensen
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
  • Length: 17 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,234
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,112
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,102

The Narthani, a militant realm who believe their manifest destiny is to rule the entire planet, Anyar, plan to absorb Caedellium into their empire. Yozef Kolsko (a.k.a. Joe Colsco) works to find ways to increase the chances of resistance to the Narthani's planned conquest. The enemy is coming. The odds seem overwhelming, and it will take all Yozef can do, the courage of his new people, and luck, to survive.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gripping. Refreshing ratio of sci-fi to fantasy!

  • By Jordan on 08-01-17

A Good Sophomore Effort

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

Reviewed: 09-17-17

A friend of mine made the contention that this series was "Outlander, for men". This book pretty much proves him right, but also essentially strikes the "for men" part off the end of it. The vast majority of the book is concerned with the romance between the main character (a guy transplanted from modern California into what is essentially an alternate-history 1700s England) and the feisty, nobleman's daughter who is chafing under the sexist rules of that society. This romance was preordained in the previous book and it proceeds about the way you'd expect it to, with misunderstandings and eventual love, etc. It's predictable but still enjoyable.

The last third is sort of a Bernard Cornwell-esque military adventure which plays out pretty competently.

Thorensen's writing has improved a great deal between the first and second books, though he is still prone to rehashing what doesn't need to be reviewed and a LOT of unnecessary exposition. I enjoyed it enough to want to get the third book.

From an audiobook perspective, the narration is pretty mediocre. The production is uneven with volume and tone jumping all over the place between scenes. There are a lot of places where the narrator is thrown for a loop between pages or Davis uses what's obviously the wrong name, and the producers don't bother to do another take to correct the error.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • All These Worlds

  • Bobiverse, Book 3
  • By: Dennis E. Taylor
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 7 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 37,790
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 35,374
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 35,270

Being a sentient spaceship really should be more fun. But after spreading out through space for almost a century, Bob and his clones just can't stay out of trouble. They've created enough colonies so humanity shouldn't go extinct. But political squabbles have a bad habit of dying hard, and the Brazilian probes are still trying to take out the competition. And the Bobs have picked a fight with an older, more powerful species with a large appetite and a short temper.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Satisfying End to a Fun Series

  • By Craig Schorling on 08-20-17

Good; too short; rushes the ending

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

Reviewed: 08-12-17

Any additional comments?

Bottom line: it's good; too short; and kinda rushes the ending. This probably should have been combined with the second book in that the final two are together barely longer than the first one was by itself. It ties off most all of the loose threads from the second book nicely, but in places it's just a little too tidy and suffers from the geek wish-fulfillment that permeates the first two books.

This book - like the second one - didn't have the joy of discovery from the first one, and I never really got the feeling that the outcome of the central threat of the latter two books was anything but certain, despite a couple red herrings thrown in there. Likewise, although the first book largely failed to examine some of the philosophical and ethical issues that pop up in Bob's unique existence, the second and third books just kind of brush them aside with no examination whatsoever... which is a pity because there are some interesting questions in there.

I might be wrong, but I got the impression that the author was kind of just cranking this one out so that he could move on to a new project.

But all the negative things aside, the writing was every bit as breezily-enjoyable as the first one and it was still a good page-turner. If you liked the first book, you'll want to read the second two.

I'm really looking forward to what Taylor comes out with next.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Hatching

  • A Novel
  • By: Ezekiel Boone
  • Narrated by: George Newbern
  • Length: 8 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 377
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 346
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 348

Deep in the jungle of Peru, where so much remains unknown, a black, skittering mass devours an American tourist whole. Thousands of miles away, an FBI agent investigates a fatal plane crash in Minneapolis and makes a gruesome discovery. Unusual seismic patterns register in a Kanpur, India, earthquake lab, confounding the scientists there. During the same week, the Chinese government "accidentally" drops a nuclear bomb in an isolated region of its own country.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Part One of ???

  • By Patrick Marstall on 07-17-16

Part One of ???

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

Reviewed: 07-17-16

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed the book - narration was great, the characters were fairly interesting and the premise was fine and made believable. But this is just the first part of a full novel: at the "end" the characters had not grown,the threat hadn't been beaten (or not beaten), and honestly the characters had done nothing but stand around and watch stuff happen. The whole book was simply "Act I" of a monster story.

I am looking forward to seeing what happens with the characters and what the next step in the monsters' evolution is... but this isn't the first book of a trilogy, it's the first third of a book. And since the last parts haven't been written yet, I wish I had known that going in.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • NOS4A2

  • A Novel
  • By: Joe Hill
  • Narrated by: Kate Mulgrew
  • Length: 19 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 10,351
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,646
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 9,637

Victoria McQueen has an uncanny knack for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. When she rides her bicycle over the rickety old covered bridge in the woods near her house, she always emerges in the places she needs to be. Vic doesn't tell anyone about her unusual ability, because she knows no one will believe her. She has trouble understanding it herself.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gripping performance by Kate Mulgrew....

  • By Leslie on 05-06-13

Spectacular Reading by Mulgrew

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

Reviewed: 11-14-13

This is my first Joe Hill book and I was struck by how tightly plotted the story is and how distinctive the various characters are. His writing reminds me a lot of his father's better work back in the 80s, and that's high praise.

However, I really wanted to write in praise of Kate Mulgrew's performance. Really fantastic. She is able to develop fairly distinct voices for each of the major characters, and she's not afraid to raise or lower her voice to better depict the mind-set of the speaker. Her narration here puts her at the top of my list of female narrators and I'm looking forward to hearing her in the future.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Abaddon's Gate audiobook cover art
  • Abaddon's Gate

  • By: James S. A. Corey
  • Narrated by: Jefferson Mays
  • Length: 18 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,119
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,096
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,065

The alien artifact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has appeared in Uranus's orbit, where it has built a massive gate that leads to a starless dark. Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artifact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to find whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Is humanity ready for the stars?

  • By Lore on 02-03-14

A Good Maybe Wrap-Up

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

Reviewed: 10-01-13

I loved the first book in the series and thought that the second one was... not quite as good. The third is a return to form, concentrating more on the alien technology and less on political squabbles.

The characterizations are a little better this time around too, and though we don't get anyone as deep or interesting as Miller from the first book the, the supporting cast is pretty good this time around.

Although the story winds up in a semi-coherent fashion, I'm hoping that the authors decide to revisit the "expanse" universe soon.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Strain

  • By: Guillermo Del Toro, Chuck Hogan
  • Narrated by: Ron Perlman
  • Length: 13 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 4,854
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,617
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,620

The visionary creator of the Academy Award-winning Pan's Labyrinth and a Hammett Award-winning author bring their imaginations to this bold, epic novel about a horrifying battle between man and vampire that threatens all humanity. It is the first installment in a thrilling trilogy and an extraordinary international publishing event.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Could be better but still a worthy vampire yarn

  • By Mark on 08-17-09

Strong start, weak finish

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-10-11

Pearlman as a narrator was fine -- his voices were all mostly the same with a few accents thrown in here and there, but he managed to get the tone down well and he relayed the action pretty cleanly. I expected a little better given all the voice-work he's done over the years, but I wouldn't be scared off of another audiobook if I saw him listed. He'd be great for non-fiction.

The book itself started out quite well, but went downhill quickly, especially in the last third of the book. I'd wave it off as first-timer's learning, but Del Toro had an experienced co-writer, so you can't even do that.


The first third of the book describes a Vampire infestation of NYC, and this is pretty good. The pseudo-science seems to stand up, and the actions of both the vampire bad guys and clueless good guys are logical and understandable. Del Toro obviously did a lot of research into various areas (rat infestations, how morgues operate) and this comes through nicely in creating a believable first act. The characters are pretty one-note, and despte an honest effort, they never quite get past the cardboard cut-out stage.


The second third of the book steadily grows weaker as each of the main characters settles into a pre-ordained "Dracula" role of Van Helsing, Harker, Quincey, etc. The careful "real science" that they cultivate in the first part starts to fall apart a bit as the rules they came up with are bent or broken to serve the plot, and the characters start to do dumb things that fly in the face of their earlier pragmatism.


The last third of the book is just a mess. The main characters blunder around like buffoons with weapons that Joss Weadon would have rejected from a "Buffy" script as too campy; the once uber-powerful vampires are now dispatched casually; and the super bad-guy alternates between demigod and staggering idiot as the action requires.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Way of the Wolf

  • The Vampire Earth, Book 1
  • By: E. E. Knight
  • Narrated by: Christian Rummel, E. E. Knight (Introduction)
  • Length: 11 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 830
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 498
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 501

Louisiana, 2065. A lot has changed in the 43rd year of the Kurian Order. Possessed of an unnatural and legendary hunger, the bloodthirsty Reapers have come to Earth to establish a New Order built on the harvesting of enslaved human souls. They rule the planet. They thrive on the scent of fear. And if it is night, as sure as darkness, they will come.

On this pitiless world, the indomitable spirit of mankind still breathes in Lieutenant David Valentine.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Its what you expect, and thats not a bad thing.

  • By Kevin on 11-26-08

Formulaic but Entertaining

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-12-09

The book has a nifty sci-fi/vampire premise, and the author is good enough at describing action sequences to keep you wanting more. The characters are about as cardboard cut-out as you can get and character development approaches zero, but the inventive descriptions of the post-apocalyptic Earth are enough to keep it going. I liked it enough to give the second one a try; I'm hoping the author is capable of more character-building as the series continues.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • God Is Not Great

  • How Religion Poisons Everything
  • By: Christopher Hitchens
  • Narrated by: Christopher Hitchens
  • Length: 8 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,556
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,860
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,798

In the tradition of Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian and Sam Harris' recent best-seller, The End of Faith, Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case against religion. With a close and erudite reading of the major religious texts, he documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • ...Though Hitchens Is!

  • By Ben Capozzi on 11-13-11

Entertaining

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-07-07

I saw this guy interviewed on the Daily Show a couple weeks back and I was intrigued by what he said was in the book, so I picked it up. When I saw it was narrated by the author, I was originally put off -- on the Daily Show he was a bit of a slow talker, and generally the authors don't do as good a job as professional narrators. But the editor did a good job chopping out the pauses, and Hitchen's tendency to mumble his hard consonants was not too bad unless there was a lot of noise in the gym.

The book is... ah, I'm not quite sure how to describe it. A screed against religion, I suppose. Initially it seems to be a long essay on why atheism... or perhaps Atheism... is the proper way to go if we as a planet are to move on. But it often devolves into a series of anecdotal vignettes on why religion and the religious are bad for... well, everything. Many times this is fascinating and sometimes it's a bit unfair (he tends to cherry-pick assumptions and forgive ignorance cases where it helps his cause and lambaste it in places where it does not), but it is always very entertaining.

I enjoyed the dense allusions to classical literature and puns; pretentious maybe, but if you are reading the book you'll probably like it too.

40 of 47 people found this review helpful