Thousands of years after an entire colony mysteriously disappears, antiquities dealer Alex Benedict comes into possession of a cup that seems to be from the Seeker, one of the colony's ships. Alex and his assistant, Chase Kolpath, follow a deadly trail to the Seeker, strangely adrift in a system barren of habitable worlds. But their discovery raises more questions than it answers, drawing Alex and Chase into the very heart of danger.
This is a sweeping story that takes inspiration from sources as diverse as Indiana Jones and Isaac Asimov.
The two main characters are well-drawn and engaging - especially the narrator, Chase - and the plot of historical mysteries in a future multi-galactic civilization is intriguing with a satisfying conclusion.
It is nice to read a sci-fi novel with a strong female lead - in fact, that recommendation was one of the reasons I chose this book. I also enjoyed the detailed but not over-thought scientific and social details of the future society. McDevitt has kept the differences fairly simple, with enough twists to keep the society fresh and interesting, and make you ponder the future of space travel and colonization of other worlds. However, if you are looking for a big space opera with lots of science and technical innovations, this is not it.
The narrator, Jennifer Van Dyck, does a great job, giving life to the two main characters and many of the peripherals. Her 'computer voice' seemed grating at first, but actually fits very well with the descriptions and feel of the scenes. Her characterisation of the male characters is not forced, and she differentiates the various characters well.
I am looking forward to the other books in the series.
Space Captain Smith is the first book of the Chronicles of Isambard Smith. It’s the 25th Century and the British Space Empire faces the gathering menace of the evil ant-soldiers of the Ghast hive, hell bent on galactic domination and the extermination of all humanoid life forms. Captain Isambard Smith is the square-jawed, courageous and somewhat asinine new commander of the clapped out freighter John Pym, destined to take on the alien threat because nobody else is available.
What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)
Not very satisfying, fairly pat.
Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Clive Catterall?
Almost anyone. I would choose Steven Pacey as I have yet to listen to an audiobook read him that wasn't excellently narrated.
Did Space Captain Smith inspire you to do anything?
No, it's not that sort of story.
Any additional comments?
This story is a very light tale of space derring-do. Although there are a few moments that made me giggle - some funny pastiches of well-known tropes and other novels or films - mostly, I found the humour a bit simple, and the characters were hard to engage with, as they are just there to set up jokes, really.If you like Douglas Adams and are looking for something in a similar vein (but less accomplished, natch), then give this a try; it was okay, but I won't read another of his.The narration was a big negative for this book: for the prose narration, the reader used the sort of intonation you would use when reading a child a bedtime story, while some of the voices were wildly off their descriptions. Perhaps with a better reader, this book would have appealed to me more, as you need someone skilful to get the comic timing right.
2 of 4 people found this review helpful
Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Aibileen is a black maid raising her 17th white child. Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is the sassiest woman in Mississippi: a wonderful cook with a gossip's tongue. Graduate Skeeter returns from college with ambitions, but her mother will not be happy until she's married. Although world's apart, Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny's lives converge over a clandestine project that will change the town of Jackson forever.
This is a rich, complex story about life in 60s Mississippi, politics and race relations, but more even than those grand themes, it is an intelligent and moving story of the relationships between women. The narrators are great, bringing such warmth and heart to the characters they portray.
I would recommend this book to anyone, but I think perhaps female readers will the most from it.
Moh Kohn is a security mercenary, his smart gun and killer reflexes for hire. Janis Taine is a scientist working on memory-enhancing drugs, fleeing the US/UN's technology cops. Jordan Brown is a teenager in the Christian enclave of Beulah City, dealing in theologically-correct software for the world's fundamentalists - and wants out.
I read this as a paperback years ago, and loved the whole series it's a part of. The mix of William Gibson-like technology ideas and a wry take on politics, especially this of the thinly-disguised Socialist Workers' Party, make for an entertaining plot and likeable characters. However, something about it just doesn't seem to work as an audiobook so well. I think a major factor of this is probably the narrator, who gives many of the characters very similar accents and who I feel misinterpreted the main protagonist. There are also several slips in pronunciation and emphasis, which meant I couldn't quite relax and enjoy the story. Overall, I was ok, just not as good as I'd hoped.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Tudor England. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is charged with securing his divorce. Into this atmosphere of distrust comes Thomas Cromwell - a man as ruthlessly ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.
I enjoyed this book, even though I did find the use of 'he' to refer to Cromwell a little grating at times. However, I have to say that the narration really put me off - the lack of difference in voices stopped the dialogue really coming alive for me, as there seem to be only three types - gruff, lordly, and simpering, with almost no difference in accents. Also, the reader's inability to pronounce several simple words, like 'secretary', snags in the ear and stops you from being able to enjoy the story. He sounded half-asleep at some points, which doesn't help the reader feel engaged with the events he is narrating.
Overall, though, I would recommend this book, as Mantel brings the events, perceptions, and characters of the 16th century alive and constructs a wide-ranging narrative well - although I would perhaps recommend reading it in paper form, rather than the audiobook.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Springtime in Styria. And that means war. There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.
This is a fun fantasy story, with the usual gore and heroics, plus Abercrombie's fine pacing and witty characters; but in contrast with the First Law trilogy I think it is a little too stolid in its use of familiar themes and character types - in fact, several episodes, motives, settings, and even character traits seem to have been transposed almost directly from that story into this.
In common with other reviewers, I found that what really let this book down was its narrator. In the grand scheme of things he is probably okay, bar some mispronunciations and errors of emphasis, but he definitely suffers in comparison with the narrator of the First Law trilogy, who was excellent. I'm not sure why the publishers chose a different actor for this book, because several of the same characters reappear, and when you find they are suddenly given an entirely new voice - and therefore personality - it disrupts your enjoyment, and the continuity of the plotlines.
5 of 8 people found this review helpful
Inquisitor Glokta, a crippled and bitter relic of the last war, former fencing champion turned torturer, is trapped in a twisted and broken body - not that he allows it to distract him from his daily routine of torturing smugglers.Nobleman, dashing officer and would-be fencing champion Captain Jezal dan Luthar is living a life of ease by cheating his friends at cards. Vain and shallow, the biggest blot on his horizon is having to get out of bed in the morning to train with obsessive and boring old men.
This is a great book, the start of a very enjoyable trilogy. Although the narrative elements don't always seem to tie in, that is because this is the set-up to an epic quest story. Although the themes and events are those often found insword and sorcery fantasy stories, the excellent pacing and believable characters make this an outstanding book.
What really lifts it up, though, is Steven Pacey's narration - he handles a huge cast with consummate skill, men and women both, giving them life and making them all easily recognizable. Excellent.
Andrew "Ender" Wiggin thinks he is playing computer-simulated war games at the Battle School; he is, in fact, engaged in something far more desperate. Ender is the result of decades of genetic experimentation, Earth's attempt to make the military genius that the planet needs in its all-out war with an alien enemy. Ender Wiggin is six-years-old when it begins. He will grow up fast. This, the special 20th Anniversary Edition, includes an original postscript written and recorded by Orson Scott Card himself.
This is a great piece of exploratory sci-fi presented in an excellent audio format: there is an interview at the end with Orson Scott Card in which he talks about the influence on his writing of his work in the theatre, and this can be seen in the way they have presented this recording of the book.
I'd recommend this to anyone interested in thought-provoking sci-fi, and in well-presented oral literature.
Paul Auster's signature work, The New York Trilogy, consists of three interlocking novels: City of Glass, Ghosts, and The Locked Room - haunting and mysterious tales that move at the breathless pace of a thriller.
I found the stories in this trilogy to be muddled hodgepodges of different genres, all pushed together to 'explore' the character' (or author's) angsty need to find themselves. I know this is supposed to be a literary classic, and possible the allusions just went over my head, but I found it boring and could not care about any of the characters, all of whom seemed self-obsessed, whiny, and slightly unhinged. The reader was okay, although I got worried during the long passage where Peter Stillman has a monologue, as it was delivered in a really strange voice. This did seem to fit with the description of the voice though, so I suppose he was just trying to do the text justice.
4 of 8 people found this review helpful
The Sanctuary of the Redeemers is a vast and desolate place - a place without joy or hope. Most of its occupants were taken there as boys and for years have endured the brutal regime of the Lord Redeemers whose cruelty and violence have one singular purpose - to serve in the name of the One True Faith. In one of the Sanctuary's vast and twisting maze of corridors stands a boy. He is perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old - he is not sure and neither is anyone else.
I have just finished Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy, which was great, with plenty of swords, sorcery, humour and engaging characters, and, when I saw how popular this book seemed, thought it might be a good follow-up. However, I have to say I was disappointed: the plot lacks pace, and the characterisations are two-dimensional, making the characters hard to believe in. Although it had some good moments, I wouldn't recommend this book - I think it lazily uses well-worn fantasy themes, characters, and set pieces, without having anything new to make it worth reading.
The narrator was good though, clearly differentiating most of the different voices, of which there are many.
0 of 1 people found this review helpful