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The Grand Dark

Narrated by: Vikas Adam
Length: 16 hrs and 13 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (81 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of the Sandman Slim series, a lush, dark, stand-alone fantasy built off the insurgent tradition of China Mieville and M. John Harrison - a subversive tale that immerses us in a world where the extremes of bleakness and beauty exist together in dangerous harmony in a city on the edge of civility and chaos.

The Great War is over. The city of Lower Proszawa celebrates the peace with a decadence and carefree spirit as intense as the war’s horrifying despair. But this newfound hedonism - drugs and sex and endless parties - distracts from strange realities of everyday life: Intelligent automata taking jobs. Genetically engineered creatures that serve as pets and beasts of war. A theater where gruesome murders happen twice a day. And a new plague that even the ceaseless euphoria can’t mask.

Unlike others who live strictly for fun, Largo is an addict with ambitions. A bike messenger who grew up in the slums, he knows the city’s streets and its secrets intimately. His life seems set. He has a beautiful girlfriend, drugs, a chance at a promotion - and maybe, an opportunity for complete transformation: a contact among the elite who will set him on the course to lift himself up out of the streets.

But dreams can be a dangerous thing in a city whose mood is turning dark and inward. Others have a vision of life very different from Largo’s, and they will use any methods to secure control. And in behind it all, beyond the frivolity and chaos, the threat of new war always looms.

©2019 Richard Kadrey (P)2019 HarperAudio

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    5 out of 5 stars

Kadrey's Best Work Yet

The Grand Dark is a familiar book. The setting, the writing, the partial use of German nouns and verbs is almost a little awkward because I am already so very familiar with each of the disparate themes brought together. What makes this superior and in no way cliche, is the craftsmanship and world building Kadrey brings to the table in just a single spectacular novel. The first 100 pages establish the context and culture of this world, as he simultaneously lays out the world, but also introduces us to the main character. The last 100 pages race along at supersonic speed and might have needed an additional 100 pages to feel more natural.

Richard Kadrey's initial talents have been eclipsed by honed craft and hard practiced skill from the Sandman Slim series. I like that Kadrey writes in themes and mood that I intrinsically like - and The Grand Dark has aspects of nearly all of them while still telling a cogent story. But the craft level of his writing is above excellent when it comes to the dialog between characters. He uses supporting characters so expertly to reflect the better nature of the main character in one fantastic scene after another. Affection, esteem, respect, and love are very well represented in these pages.

I enjoyed this book. I simultaneously read and listened to it. There are a few areas that are rougher than others, but like many of Kadrey's other readers, I'm hoping he is able to return to these characters and this world he penned an introduction to in The Grand Dark. As is often the case with Kadrey's amazing cast of characters, I'd buy any book set in this world with any character introduced in these pages. I look forward to many more hours of reading and listening.

Vikas Adam did a good job with his acting, although I found his female voice portrayal to be too similar. This blurred the line between Kadrey's depiction and the actors interpretation to voice.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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Kadrey does it again!

Like most of Kadrey's stand alone novels, The Grand Dark manages a tone so unique that it immediately differentiates itself from all previous one-offs, and leaves the reader with a sense of something brand new. That thought that sometimes arises in the early stages of reading a book where you find yourself thinking "I've never read anything quite like this before." The Grand Dark is at times melancholic and drowning in ennui, while soaring to ecstatic heights of wild abandon at others.

And, as is usual for Kadrey, the landscape of the story (in this case, a city) is described in such detail that it feels more like a character than a backdrop (see his descriptions of LA in the Sandman Slim series-- eventually it just seems a part of the cast). I admire his ability to intertwine the events of a characters life with the places they occur, almost as if they're dependent on one another, inextricably linked. Regardless of whether you love or hate this book, you'll likely agree that The Grand Dark could not have taken place in any other setting. The city feels alive, and crawls with just as much suppressed existential dread and chronic boredom as do the characters.

As for plot, there's not much I can say that will adequately describe the heart and soul of the story. Essentially, this book follows Largo, a young man working as a bicycle courier in a city grappling with the aftermath of what is referred to as "The Great War". Never ambitious, Largo is content to spend his days trying to keep his boss happy, and his nights trying to do the same for his girlfriend, Remi, via the alcohol soaked, drug induced haze of a perpetual party that has most of the city in it's grip. But, as usual, Kadrey's character development is brilliantly subtle and we get to watch as Largo slowly realizes his world is not what he thought it was-- people don't always show you their true face, you can be used and not even realize it, and nasty things can happen to good people at any the time, even if you don't see it. It's fascinating and a little heartbreaking to watch him slowly shed his naivety. In some ways, it's a coming of age story, as well as a love story. Now just add in some dystopian future tech, hint at some pseudo-magic spiritualism, toss in biting social commentary and the gritty urban fantasy we've all come to expect from Kadrey, and you've got The Grand Dark.

The narrator, Vikas, was really successful at bringing the story to life as well. Definitely not one of the ones that puts you in a coma mid-way through chapter one.

Overall-- this was a killer read. Hauntingly beautiful, scary as hell, thought provoking, and full of an interesting blend of existential dread, languid hedonism, and genuine hope for a better future. Read it now. Thank me later.


8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Good Book

I listened to another book by the same narrator and couldn't stand him. I think he was perfect for this book though. The protagonist is written as a kind of dim "useful fool" character. Instead of twisting and become a brainiac by the end of the book, he basically stays the same (with a few character improvements). This is the perfect way to write a book like this, IMO, as it allows the reader to see the world through a neutral eye. Early on, we understand what's happening in the city, and the corruption, but Largo is blissfully unaware until the 3rd act. Good writing, good narration, good book.

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Not the kadrey I love

I’ve gotten into a bad habit of buying books by an author without knowing anything about it. Love most of kadreys work but after spending half this book waiting I finished it simply waiting for it to entertain me. Very “1984”

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Noir Iniquity

A great listen with fantastic voice acting. The story covers the gamut of life's progressions from the fantastical Hope's of youth to the hard realizations of adulthood. All set in a beautifully dark and derelict world.

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An excellently crafted steam and oil punk dystopia

The Grand Dark is a mysterious theater dedicated to the McCobb of the tabloid yellow pages in a bleak alternate reality that feels too close to not strike inspiration in the heart. Kadrey has done it again with this new steam and oil punk dystopia that speaks to a modern issue in a futuristic way. Characters who entice, deceive and fascinate the reader. The story leaves us all, as always wanting more, MORE, MORE! If you are looking for a darkly beautiful story, crafted for the not so faint of heart, enjoy this amazing new stand alone book by Kadrey.

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im to it

Something different from a favorite author. What a treat. Gobbled it right up. A ++

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

The most Kadrey book thuse far.

An amazing ingrossing art of wolrd building by Kadrey. Its kind or Aminie meet the raging poast war 30s.

The characters and storey draw you in.

Hos vebal imagery is much like his photographs vivid yet leave room for the thenpeson peering at them to expand on them.

If I had one negative it would be that in parts Kadrey held back taking us down the rabithole to uncomfortable areas. He hints at them and lets us peak through the curtain by breifly. I wish he went full out, I know he has it whith in him.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful