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S. Morris

London, UK
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  • Phoenix Sub Zero

  • The Michael Pacino Series Book 3
  • By: Michael DiMercurio
  • Narrated by: Joseph Courtemanche
  • Length: 15 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3

The Hegira is the finest super-sub that Arab oil money can buy. But the U.S. Navy is only now learning just how good this undersea sword of Islam is. Already one American sub has been destroyed, and another crippled, as the Hegira breaks out of the Mediterranean and heads toward America to deliver its lethal payload.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Underwater Techno-Thriller

  • By S. Morris on 15-06-18

Underwater Techno-Thriller

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

Reviewed: 15-06-18

I happened across Michael DiMercurio's work some years ago and hoped Audible would eventually have his books available. For quite a while I noticed that only his first book, Voyage of The Devil Fish, was listed but more recently saw that most of his novels are now on Audible. At last look, there are, I think, three books not yet available. From memory, these are "Threat Vector", "Vertical Dive" and "Emergency Deep". I believe the latter two are part of a newer series outside the Michael Paccino world and based in a less fictionalised one.

What struck me about DiMercurio's work was how unrecognized it is compared to the likes of Tom Clancy. I read Clancy's "Red Storm Rising" and was underwhelmed by it and somewhat disappointed expecting better from my first experience of Clancy's writing. To be fair, I haven't read any other Clancy stories so I wait to be suitably impressed. However, DiMercurio, on the other hand really knows his stuff as he had served aboard U.S nuclear submarines during the Cold War unlike Clancy and his writing shows this. DiMercurio's writing style is rather like a movie screenplay and his pacing is also excellent. Action sequences are vivid, visceral and tense as well as impressive in their technical detail.

Phoenix Sub Zero is a prime example of DiMercurio's work and the plot moves along nicely. I have to wonder why Hollywood hasn't picked up on this series as it would give them a great action/techno-thriller portfolio from which to paint the big screen with and DiMercurio's writing style lends itself perfectly to this medium.

For those who have an interest in submarines you will love these books which are richly detailed and puts you right into the nuclear boats depicted tracking, hunting and evading the enemy. These books, however, do depart from reality in subtle but distinct ways for those like me who are nerdy enough to spot it. Quite why DiMercurio chose to do this is not clear to me but it does not detract from the story at all. For example, he mentions both the USS Augusta and USS Phoenix but although both are indeed real submarines of the class described, the Augusta is not hull number SSN 763 and not an "improved" Los Angeles class rather a flight 2 boat if I recall correctly. The Mk 50 torpedoes used are a substitute for the Mk 48 units actually in use in the U.S Navy and the Javelin missile is clearly analogous to the Tomahawk cruise missile. On the flip side, most everything else technical I read appears to be accurate. Again, none of this matters to the reader but it was just something perhaps worth a mention to those out there much more familiar with the subject matter.

Where DiMercurio excels is in his fictional enemy submarines and their advanced technologies which he writes very credibly seemingly extrapolating from his knowledge of submarine systems to come up with very sophisticated adversary technologies.

However, there is a big but coming up here and it's the fact that this excellent story is let down by poor narration. Unsuitable narration is the killer of an otherwise good story and this could be said of this one. Alas, it appears the same narrator is used throughout the series. The problem with it is that the reader makes no effort to use different voices to really bring the story to life. This makes for a flat reading of the book and can make discerning who is talking difficult at times. I can't quite make up my mind whether the narrator has a reading style more suitable to a corporate presentation or a children's bed time story. Either way, it's very disappointing especially when there are some excellent and well established narrators on Audible. Mark Boyett would have been an excellent choice or perhaps better still, the incredible R.C. Bray who imbues his reading with the most skilled delivery I've ever heard. So, a good story torpedoed by a bad narrator I'm afraid. I'd still highly recommend this book but maybe consider the print version unless you're OK with the sample audio.

  • The Deep Silence

  • By: Douglas Reeman
  • Narrated by: David Rintoul
  • Length: 10 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 91
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 81
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 80

HMS Temeraire: latest and most advanced of Britain's nuclear submarines. When Temraire's trials are cut short and she is ordered to the Far East to reinforce the fleet against a threat from Red China, her captain, David Jermain, knows that this is no routine exercise in flag-waving. And once in Asian waters, he and his submarine find themselves involved in a hidden, undeclared conflict beneath the sea.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Good...not great :)

  • By P. Stewart on 27-04-17

Deeply Flawed

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

Reviewed: 10-06-18

As a long time submarine enthusiast, it was about time I read a Douglas Reeman novel as I stumbled upon one of his books decades ago as a young teenager and had intended to read the yellowing paperback but it slipped my mind. Fast forward to today and I noted with interest the collection of Reeman novels available on Audible and made up my mind to see how good they were. I opted for "The Deep Silence" as it revolved around a more modern post World War II nuclear submarine as opposed to the main stay of his books which appear to be based during that war.

Very soon into this book it was very clear that this was a novel very much of its time. Based on the story and the type of submarine described, I'd estimated the late 60's as the time frame and this was confirmed when I checked the paper back edition notes on Amazon. The speech patterns, tone and attitudes of the characters are very much of that era. Although I am most definitely not in the SJW camp, I did cringe at the casual sprinkling of ethnic epithets used in this story which would be deemed somewhat offensive these days. Goes to show how different attitudes were back then and how engrained too. Interesting, as there are no F-bombs dropped whatsoever which is not likely in the Royal Navy of any modern era and this was done, most likely, to not offend the sensibilities of the target audience back then. Rather ironic, then, that the offhand use of racial terms we'd find unacceptable was par for the course.

After having read this story, it seems quite clear to me that Reeman despite his surface navy career during the second world war has a limited understanding of submarine operations and tactics. Now, it could be argued that this wasn't an issue based on his aim of producing a naval thriller but it also occurs to me that it is also going to attract naval people as well as submarine enthusiasts such as me which will look at this story with a much more critical eye. My view is that if you're going to base a story around a submarine and its crew then you really ought to get things right. It might be that Reeman was applying world War II operations or tactics to a nuclear boat which might explain his lack of understanding here.

I felt there was a number of errors in the story based on this limited understanding that just damaged the credibility of the story as a whole. Just a little research might have allowed Reeman to come up with something much more realistic and accurate in terms of submarine operations. The climax of the departure from common sense occurred at the end of the book where our Commander surfaces his submarine in a hostile environment just as an enemy submarine has dived and a warship is coming up from behind firing shells. Quite incredible to think an author of naval thrillers can think that was sound tactics. A boat of that era up against the primitive opponents would easily have taken out these targets submerged I would think. As mentioned, there are a number of things that just would not be done such as raising a periscope while running at over 10 knots in enemy waters. One might as well attach a white flag atop the scope! Anyway, I am rambling on so on to the story itself.

When all the aforementioned problems are removed, the story is alright. The American characters all seem to be heavily stereotyped and so do the British officers for that matter. Again, most likely due to the period in which this book was written. As another reviewer mentioned, there is a totally unnecessary love interest created here for our sterling captain and a first officer who seems unstable and thus should never be in the service.

Action sequences are written well and the narrator does an excellent job of imparting the excitement. However, his Liverpool accent for one of the characters is very poor if non existent. However, he does deliver the crisp upper class speech of the officers which reflects perfectly the time in which this story is set.

Strangely, Reeman fails to tie up the loose ends neatly in terms of our captains love interest and the story simply ends after the final battle. It would have been more satisfying if we had concluded the story with a return to base and seeing how the key characters stories wrapped up.

To anyone looking for a far more accurate portrayal of submarine warfare, may I suggest looking up the author Michael DiMercurio. Audible has a range of his modern submarine thrillers written by a man who actually served during the cold war on U.S nuclear boats.

As a general military thriller for the masses then "The Deep Silence" isn't bad. However, I would recommend the aforementioned author's books for something more accurate and immersive.

  • Henry VIII: King and Court

  • By: Alison Weir
  • Narrated by: Phyllida Nash
  • Length: 25 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 64
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 59
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 59

This magnificent biography of Henry VIII is set against the cultural, social and political background of his court - the most spectacular court ever seen in England - and the splendour of his many sumptuous palaces. An entertaining narrative packed with colourful description and a wealth of anecdotal evidence, but also a comprehensive analytical study of the development of both monarch and court during a crucial period in English history.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Informative and absorbing biography

  • By Kirstine on 04-07-17

Incredibly Detailed

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

Reviewed: 10-06-18

I've read a couple of Alison Weir's books and all have been excellent and
painstaking in their attention to detail and this mammoth volume is no
exception. This is a very impressive piece of work and must have taken years
to put together given the comprehensive and finely detailed research. Even
the multi-part television documentary covering Henry VII by David Starky
wasn't able to provide the sheer volume of material presented by Weir. I
find it amazing at just how much was recorded during the reign of this most
famous of English kings.

As Weir mentions in the preface, about the first third of this book is spent
describing the various aspects of life at that time and serves as a lengthy
foundation to the rest of the book which deals with the king and his
relationship to the various people around him. This section of the book is a
welcome and huge piece of work in its own right but I do think it could have
been placed in its own book. However, we are provided here with the full
historical package which really immerses the reader in the time period.

Narration is well done and compliments this book perfectly. I did spot a
couple of errors though which I imagine are more likely misreading from the
narrator than written errors. It looks to me as if a date is transposed to
be read as 1552 rather than 1525 when referencing Henry's complaining to the
builder of his tomb. Henry was dead 5 years by that date so it is clearly a
mistake. I also heard the initials H I rather than H J mentioned in relation
to Henry and Jane Seymour. Minor mistakes especially given the huge size of
this book.

My only real criticism of the book is that there are terms used
that go without explanation. This is odd as great pains are made to be as
comprehensive and detailed as possible. This means that the reader is left
puzzling over what some of the descriptions relate to.

A fascinating read and one that every person interested in this most
colourful period of English history must read.

  • Persepolis Rising

  • By: James S. A. Corey
  • Narrated by: Jefferson Mays
  • Length: 20 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 324
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 307
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 306

In the thousand-sun network of humanity's expansion, new colony worlds are struggling to find their way. Every new planet lives on a knife-edge between collapse and wonder, and the crew of the aging gunship, Rocinante, have their hands more than full keeping the fragile peace. In the vast space between Earth and Jupiter, the inner planets and the Belt have formed a tentative and uncertain alliance still haunted by a history of wars and prejudices.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • too much chat

  • By david on 23-12-17

Better Than The Last

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

Reviewed: 18-05-18

I was pondering whether to even get Persepolis Rising after the rather
disappointing Babylon's Ashes and especially after some early Luke warm
reviews. However, as usual, I don't like to ditch a series once I've read
the first few parts and liked them. It's hard for writers to always be
consistent so I like to give them the benefit of the doubt so I purchased
this title.

Persepolis Rising is set around 30 years after the events in Babylon's
Ashes which has given time for the multitude of new human colonies to
develop and one such colony world, Laconia, has plans to rule all of human
space. The first thing that surprised me was Corey's choice to base this
story so many years after the last. Given the sheer number of new worlds
open to humanity I felt there was enormous scope for material to get Holden
and crew in plenty of trouble. Of course, Corey could well decide to go back
and write a number of stories to fill in the large gap and I hope he does.

I have to say that you really need to refresh yourself on the previous
couple of books in order to get a handle on some of the events mentioned in
this story as I only vaguely recalled some prior plot points covered. In
fact, some of the things discussed by Holden relating to the situation were
plot elements from prior books I had little or no memory of. That's down to
me, I know and those that have come later to this series and thus can read
the books much closer together will have a better mental picture of the
salient events that form the foundation of this book.

As for this story? Well, I am happy to say that Persepolis Rising is a much
moor engaging read than the previous book. However, this is a slow burner
and Corey's writing style tends to slow the core narrative down by frequent
and often rather pointless character musings and introspection. On the one
hand I kind of get what he's doing here in that he wants to really paint a
detailed picture using the characters deep emotional, mental as well as
other personal thought processes but I felt that this aspect was often
overdone and served little purpose but to protract the story and often felt
like a bit contrived and overly artistic. On that basis, I feel the book
could have been about a third shorter if it weren't for this.

Apart from that, I liked this story on the whole and Jefferson Mays has done
another excellent job at narration and I am very pleased to see him used
again for this instalment. I do find it a little surprising to see the
classic principle of imperial rule/dictatorship being used here as history
tells us that such things never last even if the self appointed rulers bear
a velvet glove with an iron fist inside. Given the immense scope of
possibilities with the massive expansion into 1,300 new worlds, I felt that
such an arcane power play is a little clichéd. Having said that, the human
capacity for such acts is probably never going to go away.

All that minor griping aside, I did enjoy this story and it has left us in
an excellent position for the next instalment which I hope comes rather
sooner than this book did. Persepolis Rising is not Corey's best work in
this series but it is a much better effort than Babylon's Ashes so is a
welcome upswing in form.


  • Doctor Who and the Robots of Death

  • 4th Doctor Novelisation
  • By: Terrance Dicks
  • Narrated by: Louise Jameson
  • Length: 3 hrs and 24 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 9

Louise Jameson reads this suspenseful novelisation of a Fourth Doctor adventure. On a desert planet the giant sandminer crawls through the howling sandstorms, harvesting the valuable minerals in the sand. Inside, the humans relax in luxury while most of the work is done by the robots who serve them. Then the Doctor and Leela arrive - and the mysterious deaths begin. First suspects, then hunted victims, Leela and the Doctor must find the hidden killer - or join the other victims of the Robots of Death.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A classic story, a shame about the performance

  • By Steve on 02-02-18

Future Echoes From The Past

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

Reviewed: 25-04-18

My first experience of these BBC produced audio adaptations of the Terrance
Dicks novelizations of classic Doctor Who TV stories was the superb "The
Brain of Morbius". This was read by the equally superb Tom Baker who imbued
this story with such gravitas in my view. I was impressed with the writing
of Dicks and the translation to audio book complete with background effects
to add atmosphere and so went on to purchase anything I could in this range
read by Tom Baker.

Having seemingly gone through all available such adaptations read by Baker,
I went back to this genre some years later and recently came across some
additional stories that piqued my sense of nostalgia for that golden age of
gothic horror at that time. A classic I remember from my youth was the 1977
story "The Robots of Death" which I saw was now available and read by Louise
Jameson AKA Lela. In truth, I'd have preferred Tom Baker to have narrated
this but it seems he may have retired from doing this sort of work due to
his age which is understandable. In any case, I snapped up this short story
as I wanted to immerse myself back in that time and a story I was very
familiar with in order to bask in nostalgia once more.

Jameson does a good job of reading this book and delivers the lines of Lela
just as they were all those years ago. She, like Baker before her, have the
benefit of not having age change their voices unlike the barely recognizable
Gareth Thomas as Blake in the recent spate of Blake's 7 audio stories.

Suitable electronic effects are used to provide atmosphere and context to
the telling of this story and Jameson's voice is altered in exactly the same
way as was done back in 1977 to deliver the voices of the robots.

My only slight disappointment with Terrance Dicks' adaptation of this story
is the lack of finer detail or additional narrative to round out the story a
little more. I understand that adapting something already written to a book
format leaves little room for this but I cite the excellent intros to "the
Time Warrior" and the aforementioned "The brain of Morbius" where in the
latter we realize the struggle and indeed the name of the insect like alien
seen fleetingly in the television version.

Although "The Robots of Death" is a story of its time, it's interesting to
note how we are starting to become ever more weary of the rise of artificial
intelligence and so these types of stories are a mirror to our innate fears
of sophisticated artificial intelligences.

The story does have one or two inconsistencies it must be said and I seem to
have an ear for such things which is probably a bit sad. In one scene
commander Uvanov is facing off against the Doctor with a gun of some sort as
I recall and yet later on when the Doctor asks if there are any weapons
aboard , he is told that there isn't. I think in another scene we find robot
SV-7 about to murder Tousse but if memory serves, SV-7 becomes V-7. These
minor nitpicks aside, this is a well produced listen and will bring anyone
as old as me and can remember the TV episodes right back to that wonderful
era.

  • Doctor Who and the Horror of Fang Rock

  • 4th Doctor Novelisation
  • By: Terrance Dicks
  • Narrated by: Louise Jameson
  • Length: 3 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 16

On a remote rocky island a few miles off the Channel coast stands Fang Rock lighthouse. There have always been tales of the beast of Fang Rock, but when the TARDIS lands here with Leela and the Doctor, the force they must deal with is more sinister and deadly than the mythical beast of the past.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Wonderful Classic

  • By S. Morris on 25-04-18

A Wonderful Classic

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

Reviewed: 25-04-18

The Horror of Fang Rock is another of those classic Tom Baker Doctor Who
adventures that made very little use of special effects and yet delivered an
interesting and highly atmospheric story. So, when I found that Louise
Jameson had narrated this Terrance Dicksnovelization of that classic I
grabbed it immediately.

This story is one of those great gothic horror era Doctor Who episodes that
engendered a dark sense of coming doom that doesn't rely on spectacular and
frequent special effects as so many contemporary shows have to in order to
pad out an otherwise prosaic story. Of course, I realize that someone of my
age might see the world like this and perhaps to an unfair or biased degree
but I do think that story telling now is propped up by ever more and
frequent bouts of eye-candy in order to flesh out a weak plot or keep the
generation"Z" kids interested for more than 5 minutes at a time. In the "old
days" it was the mystery and foreboding menace of the story which gave it
substance, longevity and appeal.

There's nothing complex or perhaps particularly original here but it's the
execution of the story that makes for such a classily good yarn. Put the
cast of very different characters on a remote lighthouse and contain the
plot within the claustrophobic confines of said structure and you have the
makings of a great monster horror story.

As ever, these BBC productions are top notch and full of atmospheric sound
effects to really immerse the listener into the plot. Jameson does a nice
job of narrating this story and delivers Lela's lines just as they were all
those years ago.


If I had anything to feel a tad disappointed about it was the same
observation I had regarding the Robots of Death adaptation I recently
reviewed where I felt Dicks could've expanded a little on the television
screenplay by giving us an introduction to the story by way of some
narrative about the crash of the Rutan ship into the sea near the
lighthouse. Such expanded introductions were seen in the excellent "The
Brain of Morbius" and "The Time Warrior". One plot inconsistency I noticed
or as far as memory serves I think was a issue was the fact that it seemed
to me as if the Rubin character once taken over by the Rutan seemed to be
both locked in his room and on the outside wall of the lighthouse at the
same time. It's likely my recollection of the timeline of the events but it
did seem as if this was an oversight. As ever, none of this marred my
enjoyment of this wonderfully told classic Doctor Who story.

  • The Korean War

  • By: Max Hastings
  • Narrated by: Cameron Stewart
  • Length: 19 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 257
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 234
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 233

On 25 June, 1950, the invasion of South Korea by the Communist North launched one of the bloodiest conflicts of the last century. The seemingly limitless power of the Chinese-backed North was thrown against the ferocious firepower of the UN-backed South in a war that can be seen today as the stark prelude to Vietnam.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A missing piece of history

  • By Mark P on 14-12-14

MASH It Isn't

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

Reviewed: 07-03-18

Max Hastings is one of those extremely thorough writers that provides a comprehensive picture of the events in his books. I found the detail in his treatment of the war against Japan during World War 2 amazing. However, I was less enamoured with his work on the Falklands conflict as it read more akin to a government report and lacked more of the personal accounts that enrich the telling of such events. Still, Hastings is accomplished and so I felt his book on the Korean war would be a good start to gain an insight into that theoretically ongoing conflict.

This book didn't suffer nearly so much as his Falklands work did and so was a more interesting read. I care less for the politics behind the conflicts and more on the men that fought it but I do understand that one needs an overall frame of reference and thus a need to fully detail the politics behind the scenes.

It amused me to find out that in one meeting between the North Korean representatives and the American and South Koreans that both parties sat in silence across a table from one another for over 2 hours at a point in the conflict when tensions were running high. It's always amazing to see how egos play a part at the highest level seeing the American delegation having a separate entrance built to the negotiation hut in order not to use the same one as the North Koreans.

The book ably depicts just how brutal the climate was as well as the opposition and the harsh winters were killers to both sides. Having known very little about the conflict, I was shocked at the evident ineptness early on by the Americans and it shows how just a few years after World War II how the quality and readiness of the U.S army had sharply declined in that time. Also, the poor quality of the South Korean troops only added to this inadequate response to the North Korean incursion. The levels of cruelty by South Korean soldiers on their own troops and civilians was also an eye opener.

We also see the rise of the Kim family that went on to dominate North Korea to this day so yet another education in this war. Hastings is very diligent but I did note he omitted a small but relevant incident where a North Korean pilot defected with his MIG fighter after a leaflet drop by the U.S offering $100,000 to the pilot that did so. This intelligence coup would have shaped the response to these MIG fighters by the U.S pilots and so I was surprised Hastings missed this.

Dry politics aside, this book is an in depth treatment of the brutal conflict and well worth a read if you want to learn more about this event in world history.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Radical

  • My Journey from Islamist Extremism to a Democratic Awakening
  • By: Maajid Nawaz
  • Narrated by: Maajid Nawaz
  • Length: 10 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 284
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 264
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 264

Born and raised in Essex, Maajid Nawaz was recruited into politicised Islam as a teenager. Abandoning his love of hip-hop music, graffiti and girls, he was recruited into Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Liberation Party), where he played a leading and international role in the shaping and dissemination of an aggressive anti-West narrative. While studying for his Arabic and law degree, he travelled around the UK and to Denmark and Pakistan, setting up new cells.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Simply Inspirational

  • By Tiago Lazaro on 16-12-16

Facinating, Compelling & Shocking

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

Reviewed: 07-03-18

I first came across Magid Nawaz when he became a regular presenter on the LBC radio station recently. I was drawn to his articulate and rational debating skills as well as his extensive knowledge on Islam. This latter point became of great interest to me when I would hear Magid debate with those Muslims with more fundamental views on their religion and how this man spoke from a position of knowledge and experience such that he could joust with the most fervent followers of Islam and recite in fluid Arabic various passages from the Koran to make his points. Here, finally I thought, was someone who could debate the topic of Islam and fundamentalism on a level playing field rather than the more usual ignorance of a non Muslim trying to argue points of theology with impassioned believers of doctrine. Here was a presenter with great intelligence and debating skill that thoroughly impressed me. As I listened in regularly to his show, I heard him say how he had once been one of those radicals and this piqued my interest even further as here was a man who clearly has seen the other side as it were and is in a perfect position to put the counter argument across against Islamic extremists given he used to be one. I wondered about this very different past and was curious to learn more but had no idea he had written a book detailing his life leading up to and during his shift to extremist views until I saw his book on Audible as part of a sale and immediately purchased it.

Radical: My Journey From Islamist Extremist to a Democratic Awakening tells this story and is narrated by the man himself which is a real bonus as he has a pleasant and clear voice. The book provides some brief family history and then gets into the main section starting with his young life in South End in the early 1990's. Listening to the mature calm and articulate man on the radio belies his more colourful past fully immersed into the Hip-Hop music scene at that time. He recounts the times when he was on the receiving end of brutal and overt racism. Magid tells his story in a direct and honest way and doesn't shy away from using bad language to illustrate the life he led back then. Sort of odd hearing this most articulate of radio presenters dropping F-bombs frequently but it's all done in the name of delivering a raw narrative which works very well.

The story develops and evolves to eventually find Magid immersed into the Islamist fundamental ideology and his journey takes him to Egypt where he is imprisoned by the special Police there. I won't go into too much detail but the entire story told here is compelling and fascinating and I didn't want to stop listening. Magid paints a vivid picture of his world in which he inhabits at the time of this story.

What I found amazing was that during the early 1990's I do remember seeing orange flyers stuck on lamp posts in the area I worked in at the time but had absolutely no idea of their meaning and implications. I was shocked to learn of the scale of the Islamist movement back then seeing universities and colleges in key cities across the country being infiltrated and in the case of Magid's University, having its student body effectively taken control of. What is also alarming and a lesson to politically left leaning or liberal establishments such as those found in universities is that tolerance of the intolerant leads to spreading of the insidious ideology. Magid said himself that if they were ever challenged by university staff that they would throw the racist accusation at them which did the trick. it seems evident from Magid himself that the poisonous message was allowed to spread in part as a result of political correctness not allowing those in authority to stop it. A real eye opener to me it must be said. I do not wish to espouse any political views here myself. What I've said is purely what the author has said and that's what is so important here.

It is shocking for a non religious person like me to see just how the mind set of an extremist works and how powerful a foundation to such views that a religion can be.

Highly recommended.

  • Blood World

  • Undying Mercenaries, Book 8
  • By: B. V. Larson
  • Narrated by: Mark Boyett
  • Length: 12 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 216
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 205
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 205

A dirty deal was struck. Humanity was allowed to keep 300 rebellious worlds. In return, we declared war on a powerful enemy from beyond the frontier. A frantic build-up of forces has begun, but the task is hopeless. Seeking allies, Earth's legions are sent to Blood World. A planet on the fringe of known space, where the people only respect masters of combat. Earth's Legions must impress them, but other alien powers have been invited to join the contest. The prize consists of billions of loyal troops - Earth must win.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Another Solid Adventure

  • By S. Morris on 04-03-18

Another Solid Adventure

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

Reviewed: 04-03-18

Blood World is the eighth book in the Undying Mercenaries series and has been a long wait for me while B V Larson pens other books in his various sagas. It's hard for me to decide which of his series I most enjoy, the Star Force or the Undying Mercenaries. The former has a more serious undertone while the latter, although perhaps more visceral and brutal in its descriptions of combat, has a slightly comic element to it in the James McGill character. One thing Larson tends to do with most, if not all, of his leading characters is to make them brave, clever and a real ladies man. I suppose you could say that he models his main lead males on the classic Captain Kirk mould. It's not terribly sophisticated or layered by modern standards perhaps but certainly makes for a more straight forward "go getter" type hero that keeps things simple.

So, what of the story? Well , if you are a fan of this series as I am, then I'd say it wasn't the best but it's by no means the worst. The difference between those two poles is very small in fact given Larson's ability to write solid action stories. It has pretty much all the elements we're used to seeing which makes for a satisfying read. However, I did find the premise a little confused. Earth has to put its fighting forces against those of other species to determine who gets the millions of troops waiting for a new master. wwe've seen these ferocious soldiers before but I'll not say here who they are. OK, so a competition to see who is the most worthy of the fighting force on offer. So, why does Earth get to send two representatives in the form of legions Varus and Germanica? Perhaps I've missed something here but I thought only one entry ought to be allowed. Other species in the competition were only represented once so I didn't understand what was the point. I do think Larson could've come up with a plot that made more sense in this regard .

Nevertheless, Larson keeps the action coming and he is adept at doing this. As ever, Larson comes up with imaginative aliens and detailed battlefields and worlds. Based on how this book ended, it is perhaps more exciting to see where the next book takes us as Earth prepares to do battle with forces that are fighting a civil war within the mighty Galactic empire.

Mark Boyett is here to narrate this and has been all throughout the series which makes for lovely consistency. He delivers all main characters just as we remember although I did feel that the early renditions of Claver were not quite right. He corrects this later in the book though.

Not too much else to say here. Larson delivers another satisfying if somewhat convoluted plot that essentially ticks all the boxes for an Undying Mercenaries story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Alien: Invasion

  • The Rage War, Book 2
  • By: Tim Lebbon
  • Narrated by: John Chancer
  • Length: 10 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 390
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 363
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 363

The second original novel in an Alien vs Predator: Rage War series, continuing from Predator: Incursion as Colonial Marines units are being wiped out - and not by the Predators. This is an attack by organized armies of Aliens.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • nice continuation

  • By Ho-Man Yau on 02-11-16

Best Of The Series

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

Reviewed: 04-03-18

In my opinion, this middle act of the 3 book Alien Versus Predator series
written by Tim Lebbon is the best of the three. The second book of a trilogy
series is often the strongest as all the introductory work which can often
be slow and was in the case of the first book has been done and we can get
to the heart of the story. This book picks right up from the cliff hanger we
were left at abruptly at the conclusion of book 1 and so there is no slow
spin-up to speed in this second book. Thus, pace for this story is much
better and it held my interest far more than the first book.

Plot was good with some very nasty and difficult combat situations as well
as plenty of gore for those into that stuff. One thing the author is not
afraid to do is to kill off established characters which is something less
common on the whole and a move that I actually liked as it raises the
credibility of the story.

The concept of the android generals with names of famous and infamous
historical military leaders was, for me, a little bit silly and I felt lent
a more childish feel to the story. This reminds me, I did note a recurring
error in the latter part of the previous book and opening section of this
one in that the author stated that the Patton android had been found pinned
to a bulkhead in his ship with his entire lower half missing and yet the
reference is made more than once to things being at or around his feet. Kind
of strange for someone without legs or maybe it's just me being my usual
picky self.

Other plot elements did seem a little odd to me. When we are moving through
the Predator habitat with Johnny Mains and crew, we come across multiple
Predator fatalities numbering more than our hapless surviving band
suggesting that these supreme hunters seem easier prey to the Aliens than
our heroes do. In addition, given the likely numbers of Predators occupying
their base, it seems very unlikely that they would flee from far lesser
numbers of Aliens.

John Chancer's narration is competent and I do like his normal voice but I
did find that his pronunciation of the female name Yvette was grating when
he actually sounded the letter 'Y' at the start rather than read it as an E
sound due to its French origins. Kind of thought a narrator would know this
stuff or perhaps it's just me being a nit picker. Maybe in the U.S they
distort the French name in this way, I don't know. My real gripe with his
narration is the often rather poor voices used for certain characters which
tend to undermine the story a little as they sound like something from a
children's cartoon. In particular, his female voices are the worst in this
regard. Of course, it's always hard for a male narrator to do a convincing
female voice but I kept thinking of the wicked witch of the North from the
Wizard of Oz when hearing Beatrix Maloney's character.

If you are in two minds about continuing this series after reading book 1
then I would recommend you do read on to this second part as it is far more
interesting and fast paced.

Overall a decent read and much closer to what an Alien Versus Predator story
should be.