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There is a lot to like in this opening book in a trilogy, but a few troublesome weaknesses bothered me enough so that I probably will not go on to the second book.
The great strength of the book is the originality of its cast of races and characters. Wells has done a wonderful job of creating a world which feels fresh in this regard and makes us curious. She reveals it effectively with description which is richly evocative but never excessive or showy. As a result, the book is a nice journey of discovery--always a pleasure for a fantasy fan. Even the central conflict of the book is inventive and surprising, and the plot evolves in unexpected directions at several points. She also manages to give us an ending which is both satisfying and a good foundation for further development in the second book.
Given all of that, I still had trouble losing myself in the book. I found the interplay between the characters predictable and repetitive even when the grand sweep of the story was not, and they seldom surprised me in any way. I also found myself confused by the array of minor characters with interchangeable, one syllable names who were never developed quite enough to stick vividly in the mind. In addition, while the author's handling of crisis and action were excellent, the story lagged a good deal in several places and I found myself murmuring, "Get on with it, already."
Finally, and here it would seem I am a rare exception, I was not delighted by Chris Kipiniak's reading. His voice is rich and quite beautiful, and he worked hard to delineate character voices clearly, but I found his women a little squeaky or raspy and hard to listen to or believe.
This is a very near miss for me, but I have a long list of wonderful books waiting, and this one did not quite make the cut. I am clearly in the minority, and I think you probably would not find it was a waste of your credit to try it and decide for yourself.
19 of 23 people found this review helpful
My first exposure to this world and Martha Wells came through Audible audio books.
I cannot rave enough about the outstanding job Chris Kipiniak did with the narration. His range of character voices made it so easy to follow the dialogues between several characters. Of course, as talented as Chris is, he still needs a good story to read to us.
The Raksura stories by Martha Wells (The Cloud Roads and The Serpent Sea) are wonderful. The world she created and the characters therein are beautifully crafted and detailed to make it easy to visualize each scene, no matter how outlandish they may seem (I mean, come on, a city built on the back of a giant sea creature?). But it all seemed plausible, and was definitely entertaining. Good character development, and the relationships developing between Moon and the other characters, and between the other characters with each other were deftly handled. Not too much to be boring, but enough to give us an idea, and a satisfaction, that they would all become the people we hoped they would be. Martha's sense of humor is terrific, too ("Moon had been Jade's consort for 11 days now, and so far no one had tried to kill him. He thought it was going well.")
I may have to buy these two books for my Kindle reader so I can revisit these stories, and parts thereof whenever I want.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful