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Eboracum

UK
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  • Harmony Black

  • Harmony Black 1
  • By: Craig Schaefer
  • Narrated by: Christina Traister
  • Length: 10 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 48
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 45
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 44

Harmony Black is much more than your average FBI special agent. In addition to being a practicing witch, she's also an operative for Vigilant Lock, an off-the-books program created to battle occult threats - by any means necessary. Despite her dedication to fighting the monsters threatening society, Harmony has become deeply conflicted about her job. Her last investigation resulted in a pile of dead bodies, and she suspects the wrong people are being punished for it.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Loved it! Supernatural meets True Dectective

  • By Eboracum on 11-04-16

Loved it! Supernatural meets True Dectective

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

Reviewed: 11-04-16

What is not to love about this book? There's a nice mix of dark, gritty occult horror setting (think: Supernatural), driving police-procedural story (think: True Detective) and a competent, assertive, driven, and kick-ass main character (think: a witchy Dr Temperance Brennan) beating the hell out of demons to protect the innocent. In particular, the world building and characterization are fantastic - particularly in the audiobook, where the spot-on performance gives a massive boost to at least one crucial character (for I do declare, who couldn't love a certain well-spoken demonic gentleman when his words are sugar-coated in such a darlin' n'awleens accent?)

In full disclosure, I've listened to most of the Danial Faust books. You should too - at least to discount them - before starting on this, because there are immediate late-game spoilers for that series in the opening of this one. This series exists in the same world (God and Heaven are MIA, and we're all futilely slugging it out with Damnation until we end up there anyway), but drops the main problem with those books, which is Daniel Faust himself (a cowardly, psychotically selfish, sex-starved traitorous monster of a man whom Audible's profanity-filter for reviews prevents me from adequately describing here) in favor of the altogether more likeable Harmony Black. As my enjoyment of the Faust books was ruined by my growing hatred of the main character, having a protagonist who actually fights the forces of hell rather than just sleeping with them is an enormous bonus, and makes the world enjoyable for me again. That Harmony knows the fight is futile and knows the enemy is winning, but fights anyway, because no-one else is going to step up to do it otherwise is an enormously compelling basis for her character, and really gets you to care about her and her fight.

In terms of how that fighting is done, although Harmony Black is a witch, her biggest assets are her investigative rather than magical powers. Mad pyscho pyromaniac fireball-spamming wizards do exist in this world - and Harmony can throw down with them in a pinch - but her powers are explicitly more 'leveling the playing field' than 'leveling the building'. In almost all circumstances, Harmony uses the stopping power of her service-issue handgun over that of a lightning bolt (quicker, easier to do the paperwork for, and less tiring) and that gives the story a much more believable edge, as magic becomes the counter to specific problems, rather than the resolution to absolutely everything.

This is very much Harmony's book (and my one criticism would be that the book does absolutely everything it can to ram that down your throat, by having her personally invested in the case - pretty much to excess - rather than this just being another monster to kill) and that works to it's advantage so early in the series, as it gives us a real grounding in her story and motivations. It also really pays off in the ending, by giving her some closure on her traumatic childhood, and adding some real depth to her personality. For myself, I was really interested in a lot of the other characters, and to some extent Harmony's prominence steals the limelight from them - but I'm happy that development is coming later (we can see the setup for at least two of their stories in this book).

All in all, I'd heartily recommend this for anyone who likes the idea of a monster-killing FBI detective, or (like me) liked the Daniel Faust books while hating Daniel Faust. In general though, you should give this a shot whatever you like, because there is honestly enough in here to grab anyone and keep them coming back for more.


2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Empire's Corps

  • By: Christopher G. Nuttall
  • Narrated by: Jeffrey Kafer
  • Length: 15 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 285
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 263
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 266

The Galactic Empire is dying and chaos and anarchy are breaking out everywhere. After a disastrous mission against terrorists on Earth itself, Captain Edward Stalker of the Terran Marine Corps makes the mistake of speaking truth to power, telling one of the most powerful men in the Empire a few home truths. As a result, Captain Stalker and his men are unceremoniously exiled to Avalon, a world right on the Rim of the Empire. It should have been an easy posting...

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Predictable but still enjoyable book. Well read.

  • By Gary Sereno on 28-05-15

Fun military sci-fi - crappy social commentary.

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

Reviewed: 11-04-16

This is quite a fun read, with some cool action scenes and an engaging plot that moves the story along at a nice clip. I came for the guns and explosions, enjoyed the military tactics and strategy stuff, but suffered through the ridiculous right wing, niave political science jaunts. If you enjoyed the book version of 'Starship Troopers', then this is for you - albeit with less aliens and more political skull-dugery - but if you preferred the film version's satire, you're going to find the proffesor character's blatent fascist leanings troublesome, the obviously rigged social annologies lame, and the obvious USMC hero-worship tiresome. On the plus side - excellent action scenes, passible characters, tidy conclusion, awesome explosions.

Gardens of the Moon: Malazan Book of The Fallen 1 - Volume 1 cover art
  • Gardens of the Moon: Malazan Book of The Fallen 1 - Volume 1

  • By: Steven Erikson
  • Narrated by: Ralph Lister
  • Length: 13 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 301
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 275
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 274

Bled dry by interminable warfare, infighting and bloody confrontations with Lord Anomander Rake and his Tiste Andii, the vast, sprawling Malazan empire simmers with discontent. Even its imperial legions yearn for some respite. For Sergeant Whiskeyjack and his Bridgeburners and for Tattersail, sole surviving sorceress of the Second Legion, the aftermath of the siege of Pale should have been a time to mourn the dead.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great start to a series.

  • By Stephen on 27-03-13

Really couldn't get into this

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

Reviewed: 01-11-15

I normally spend more time with even the books that I eventually discard, but I gave up on this after about 3 hours. I just reached the point where I had (kind of) figured out what was going on in simple plot terms (massacre blah blah murdering gods blah empress blah possessed girl pretending to be a solider blah blah junior noble office in over his head blah blah, mostly) and suddenly realized that I had absolutely no interest or engagement in either the world or the characters. When you're 10% through a book and still have no clue what sort of story is being told, then it's not a story worth listening to.

There is no real attempt to set the scene or introduce you to the main structures in the world, beyond a confusing opening and numerous un-subtle hints about emperors, gods and the like in the opening chapters. That could be a soft opening to a complex mythos that grows and drags you in bit by bit, but if you plan on doing that you need something to keep the reader interested in the mean time - like interesting characters, sparkling writing and a world that is at least vibrant, even if it is mysterious. This book fails on all those counts.

There may be a good book in here once you get past the first third of so, but I just wasn't interested enough to stick around and find out.

5 of 9 people found this review helpful