"Enigmatic and fascinating"
The reader's voice took a little getting accustomed to but the story is well worth the praise and attention it has received. The narrative which brushes always against the surreal and plays it against the commonplace brutality of real life reminds the reader of the great Mervyn Peake. It touches a very real nerve in the human psyche and is highly recommended.
"much better than the abridged version"
Much more expensive because it is sold as two books instead of one, this recording of The Hobbit is much better than the abridged version available on Audible. Tolkien’s prose is more than half the fun, and the abridged version loses the sparkle and colour of it.
Rob Inglis has done a great job again in narrating Tolkien, although his pronunciation of the word ‘eyrie’ is continually irritating in episodes featuring the eagles. Some of the Dwark names are a bit odd to my ear too, but I can live with those, unlike eyrie.
As an postscript observation on a great many titles in the Audible catalogue, why don’t audiobook editors and producers actually do their job and ensure narrators pronounce words correctly? Some books are desecrated by bad editing and Audible surely has enough influence in the market to insist that their providers up their game on pronunciations – especially non-English words.
When you get all the hype about something that this book and its siblings have generated, and when the author's supposed name (George.R.R) sounds ominously close enough to the genuinely great J.R.R. (Tolkien), the new reader has the right to expect a real treat.
This miserable journey-man novel doesn't even come close to meeting expectations. It is no classic in any sense of the word. As a standard swords and castels fantasy it is just about OK, but the huge cast of characters is a real problem.
The author - what is his real name? - fails to focus in on a particular character or small group of characters to give the reader a helping hand. Rather, the narrative jumps dramatis personae every chapter without drawing any of the protagonists in anything but pastel colours. Half way into the book, the reader still doesn’t care about any of the vast cast of players, and without an emotional element, the story simply falls flat.
Tolkien, Peake, Le Guin, and Donaldson – to name but a new – would never make such an elementary error, and what’s more, their prose is worth reading even without a plot, whereas Martin’s flat-footed prose in s nothing more than competent.
Sorry to be so negative – but don’t get sucked in to the hype. This is no masterpiece. It’s just well-marketed.
This book has a cast of British, American and South African characters, all faithfully depicted with their national traits and very believable. They get caught up in dirty South African political shenanigans from various aspects. The novel does not judge any side in the struggles of that country but reflects its complexities and contradictions very well in as far as a thriller can.
These political machinations find narrative parallel in both the twisting personal lives of the book's characters and the financial posturing of the business storyline. I liked these juxtapositions very much and again, the author leaves us to judge the morality for ourselves.
The ending was a little weaker than I had hoped, feeling somewhat rushed and sketchy. It also ties things up in a way that life never really does which seemed at odds with the approach in the rest of the story. But don?t let these comments put you off ? that?s just my impression.
With a narrator such as Sean Barrat, a book like this comes alive. He never fails to do his homework and he pronounces the South African names perfectly and gives them just the right accent when those characters speak.
"A must-hearclassic but the narrator....."
This is one of those books that until now was curiously and scandalously absent from the Audible library. It is a sci-fi/fantasy classic in every sense of the word and is highly recommended to everyone who likes either genre.
So why only four stars? The narrator is quite utterly the wrong one - very poor and it is only a sign of the story's strength that her errors and flat voice can be ignored.
She is unable to pronounce much of the French that Julian May uses and even many an English word like 'epoch' elludes her too. She fails miserably to inject personality or different 'voices' into any of the characters which I would expect a professional reader to do, and the whole delivery detracts from this excellent novel.
It would be great if the publishers would change the narrator NOW, before the next instalment of this story and then re-record this one. It would be a scandal to put people off this book because of the wrong narrator.
"Space Opera collides with a twisting Whodunnit"
A Private Eye team who are really musicians in a not-quite-right 1950s Paris with a case that isn't quite what it seems, and a future Paris archaeologist whose trial turns out to be an elaborate ruse to send her in to an increasingly dangerous mission field. Hold onto your hats for the twists and turns of the unexpected in this loveable mystery novel.
This is something quite different from Reynolds normal fare, at least to start with, and my initial scepticism turned more and more to delight as the story unfolded.
It's not the greatest reading (French accents can be difficult to do), but who cares - rollicking story.
"Reynolds gets better and better"
Alastair Reynolds publishes books with such a rapidity it is truly astonishing that each is so good. He has certainly become one of the great masters of Space Opera. He is consistently brilliant unlike the erratic Iain M Banks who only has flashes of Sci-Fi brilliance.
House of Suns proved to be an excellent, involving read which is intriguingly and shrewdly paced and plotted. And it is read with a great sympathy for his style of writing - great to hear a British voice for a British novelist - which adds to the enjoyment.
I never got far beyond the first fifty pages reading the novel but this recording engaged much more quickly and it just got better every page. I do hope they'll go back and record 'Century Rain' now with the same narrator
Whilst there is undoubtedly a difference between male and female writers, it can often be accommodated comfortably by a reader of either gender. In the case of Violin, if it does indeed contain any merit that I was unable to discern, then I can only assume this is a novel for female readers only. I advise male readers especially to avoid like the plague.
There is nothing commendable about this novel at all. Its introspective and gratuitously self-indulgent musings do nothing but annoy - it displays all the major weaknesses of 21st century literature and makes no effort to hide them. It expects us to bond with the (intentionally?) mentally unbalanced heroine narrator and her experience, but that is impossible because it is so utterly implausible.
Good novels require an economy with words and a steady pacing of plot - see Jane Austen - neither of which is evident in Violin. Minute by minute I wanted to scream at the audio book narrator, "Get on with it and stop navel-gazing." I pity her and I hope she got well paid for struggling through the recording of this tribute to a publishing company's folly and editor's lunacy.
This book should come with a full refund.
"You'll love it or hate it"
This is a book the reader will either love or despise. It never sets out even vaguely to be an action-packed page turner, so look elsewhere if that's what you want. It does sustain and push the reader on but only if approached in the right way.
Above all this is a gentle and beguiling reflection on the emotional struggles of life for those who are introspective, sharply analytical and deep-thinking. Like the subject itself it gives no answers, no conclusions and remains open-ended - just as it should to be true to its subject matter.
Readers of that disposition should find this a satisfying journey, giving voice to this type if person?s restless absorption with meaning and value. Mercier hangs these themes like prisoners within the banality of human choices made and choices squandered or rejected.
There is a great charm in the novel despite its brutally honest depiction of human fallibility and life?s futility, and it somehow manages to reaffirm rather than depress. A great book if that?s what you want!
"The Pure in Heart part II"
In terms of story line this is really a continuation of the previous book, The Pure in Heart, and it turns the pages just as well as the last thanks to the writer's skill and the superb reading of Simon Pacey.
As for subject matter, Susan Hill explores the deterioration of British society of recent years, painting a very grim portrait of life in this materialist and godless culture. She has a sharp eye for observation and sadly it all rings too true. This single novel could easily replace a truckload of academic study for future historians.
But so much for posing the problem, Hill fails to convince when it comes to the answer.
Perhaps, rather conveniently the story introduces a young Church of England clergywoman (incorrectly called a priest), who acts as a focus for asking if God has answers for we disintegrating British or if he doesn't matter anymore. Like too many real CoE churchmen, she has no grasp of biblical doctrine and is little more than a shallow new age pedlar of 'faith'. When she should have plenty of answers she gives none, and the reader is left unconvinced by this cardboard cut-out idea of what church people have to offer the disenchanted. Susan Hill would have done well to research her subject better for this character. She may even have been able to answer the difficult questions she asks in the book.
The police station characters continue to fascinate and Simon Serailler's family still reflect the middle class in all its messy glory, trying to find a place in this brave new world which is coarse, brutal and punishing, both mentally and physically. There is little reward in quality of life.
Roll on the next installment.
The author spoke recently on BBC radio about there being 4 interlocking stories planned in the Shadow of the Wind series. Here is the second and it continues the mood of the first: of a rambling and brooding Barcelona peopled by Peakesque characters who are at once both ugly and beautiful, repellent yet beguiling.
The line between reality and the supernatural blurs a little more in this second book that charts a writer's history a couple of decades before the Shadow of the Wind. We meet up with old friends and encounter new heroes and villains.
It is just as powerful as Shadow, if not quite as wonderful, and let's us see further, both into the depths of Zafon's imagined old Barcelona and the duality and complexity of the human spirit. Evil and love swirl in a dance of chance or purposed misfortune and opportunity ? one is never sure.
If you loved Shadow, you must listen t this too. If you haven?t read Shadow, then read that first before coming here but then come straight here.
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