I don’t typically do this kind of write up of the audiobooks I listen to. Usually, I throw up a paragraph on the audible review and repost it to my Facebook page. But I thought I’d make an exception with this series, because I need content for my blog, because my Facebook posts don’t really help me keep track of what I’ve listened to, and because the first book of this series was one of my favorite fantasy novels as a younger man. The first three books of this series were published in 1988 and I read that first book, shortly thereafter. Probably as soon as it appeared in my local used bookstore.

Dave Duncan has a special significance now that I did not know about before. What’s that? Dave Duncan pursued a career as a geologist in the petroleum industry for nearly thirty years before he started writing science fiction and fantasy novels. He made his first sale (A Rose Red City) two years later in 1986 at the age of 53, just two weeks after his 31-year career as a geologist came to an end due to a slump in the oil business, at which point he switched to full-time writing. Let’s recap. He started writing SF and Fantasy at 51. Didn’t get published until he was 53. But wait, there is more. He was 85 when he passed away in 2018 and in the 34 years he was writing he published 62 novels. His novels West of January and Children of Chaos won Aurora Awards, and his works received eight Endeavour Award nominations and a Sunburst Award nomination. That is an impressive run and given my age, quite inspirational.

So, let’s revisit the SEVENTH SWORD series by Dave Duncan. The first three books were all published in 1988 and the first of the series was Dave Duncan’s most popular novel. The fourth book came out almost 25 years later. Really, it’s a trilogy + one.


Book one of the Seventh Sword series, The Reluctant Swordsman by Dave Duncan. Narrated by Donald Corren. 11 hrs and 44 mins. 09-29-2012

The main character of this series is earthman, Wallie Smith. Wallie contracted meningitis, died in the hospital, and found himself reborn into the body of a powerful swordsman on another world. His earth memories are in tact, but the memories of the man whose body he now possesses are absent. Those absent memories include all the societal mores and skills that would make living in this new world feasible. Enter the gods who have brought him here, and after a bit of skepticism and disbelief on Wallies part, he’s left believing that this is his new reality. If he will pledge fealty to them, they will give him the skills to survive.

Okay, the whole “transported to another world to become a hero” thing was my aspiration incarnate. I was hooked. And while the book starts slow, it’s not uninteresting.

We round out the cast with a eccentric priest as guide, a voluptuous slave girl as a love interest, and a spunky kid sidekick/protege. And of course, everyone else wants to kill him, steal his stuff, or both. Just to make things easier, the gods who brought him to this world are more than a little vague about what they want from him.

It’s a good start to a series. I really enjoyed it, even all these years later. The narrator was good, and that always helps. There is a decided oriental feel to the society and the culture that I noticed this time through, but had not noticed back when I first read the book.

As one of the first novels Duncan published, it’s not perfect. There are flaws, but they’re easily overlooked and I’m not going to point them out. I think the handling of slavery is understated, probably unrealistic, but the way the main character handles it is well done. I found Wallie Smith to be a likeable and relatable character. The story holds up pretty well to the new standards of Fantasy literature and doesn’t feel particularly dated to me.


Book two of the Seventh Sword series, The Coming of Wisdom by Dave Duncan. Narrated by Donald Corren. 13 hrs and 22 mins. 09-29-2012

I did not like this book when I read it back in the day. Prior to listening to it, I couldn’t tell you what I didn’t like about it back then, but having revisited it, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I didn’t like. I don’t want to give anything away, but I can’t say this without doing so. Back then, I had a real issue with authors mixing technology into my fantasy. I have much less of a reaction to that sort of thing now. Besides, you bring a guy from earth to your fantasy world because you’ve got technology problems, not because you want him to solve magical problems. We earthmen don’t have a lot of experience with magic.

So don’t be surprised when the sorcerers of the Fire God don’t turn out to be the spell weilding Merlin-Gandalf’s you’re used to in fantasy novels. But the reveal of their powers is a process and is well done, logical, and provides good story beats.

We get some new companions in this book, see more of the world, and of course the sorcerer’s make for a new bunch of villains. The world needs a hero and Wallie is a fellow with the knowledge set that they’re going to need, because the priests and swordsmen of the world are no match for the powers of magic wielded against them.

As I said, this was as far as I got in the first read and I don’t remember if I finished this book. A lot of it felt new, so it’s entirely possible that I didn’t finish it. I enjoyed it much more this time around. But my views and expectations about what makes for a good story have changed. I think this is a solid entry into the series, doesn’t suffer much, if at all, from middle book syndrome, and continues the exploration into an interesting and compelling world. I liked it. Glad I gave it a second try.


Book three of the Seventh Sword series, The Destiny of the Sword by Dave Duncan. Narrated by Donald Corren. 13 hrs and 44 mins. 09-29-2012

We come, at last, to something completely new to me. With his reputation shot-to-shit, his other-selves personality wrecking his relationships, and a prophecy that seems to indicate his best buddy and pupil is going to betray him, Wallie Smith seems to have run out of road on his path through this second chance on another world. But the Goddess isn’t letting him off the hook, he’s still got work to do. All he needs to do is

lead the arrogant band of swordsmen to destroy the sorcerers and their Fire God. Which is how the previous persona to occupy this body failed to begin with. But alternatives are not presenting themselves.

The twists and turns that make up this concluding novel in the original trilogy are nerve wracking, immersive, and logical. The conclusion is satisfying and unpredicted. It was a good ending after setting the reader up for what was going to be a very satisfying finish. Nice twist that plays into everything that has come before and works very well within the story. The trilogy that makes up the Seventh Sword is well worth the read, or listen, whatever the case may be. I’m glad to have had the experience of these books. But wait, there’s more.


Book four of the Seventh Sword series, The Death of Nnanji by Dave Duncan. Narrated by Victor Bevine. 9 hrs and 46 mins. 11-01-2012

Biggest gripe here is that they’ve changed the narrator. I don’t like the change, Victor Bevine pronounces all the names differently and that’s quite jarring. Also, I don’t think he does as good a job as Donald Corren did on the previous three titles. Personal preference, I know.

I don’t know why the author chose to revisit the world of the Seventh Sword. The ending of the trilogy did not leave loose ends or unanswered questions. You know, beyond those of every series ever, such as, and then what happened. But the point isn’t to describe the entire future and history of everything. The point is to tell a good story with a solid ending. The original trilogy did that. There is a decided change in Dave Duncan’s writing from the original trilogy. This is to be expected, what with it being a quarter of a century removed from those books and I’m sure his writing, his process, and his outlook have all changed and evolved over those years. Still, it’s noticeable. You’ve been warned.

This is a passing the torch novel. We jump 15 years into the future and whatever happened between then and now, well, we don’t dwell too much on that. Basically, we get the big overview of those years and then jump directly into the new adventure.

An unruly group of sorcerers has decided to destroy the Tryst of Casr, assassinate it’s leaders, and put themselves back in charge. You know the drill, how it should have always been–from a certain point of view. Case in point, from the view of the sorcerers.

Wallie Smith has to once again take up the seventh sword of Chioxin in defense of the world of the Goddess. This time he rides out to fight the war that he hoped would never come. As he leads his army forth, its two most junior members are Wallies son, Vixini, and the eldest son of his bond brother Nnanji, Addis, who has an oath of vengeance to fulfill. Older, wiser, slower, he knows that their failure or success will determine the fate of the World for the next thousand years.

The kids get a lot of screen time. Really, this is their story. Like I said, we’re passing the torch here. It ties back to the original trilogy nicely and we get to revisit a lot of characters, see how things have changed, and what has stayed the same.

This book probably doesn’t stand on it’s own as well as some, but it does do a nice job of bringing us back to the world to see how things have progressed. It gives us a satisfying story and a wrap up to the whole thing. Oh, and Nnanji dies. C’mon. That’s not a spoiler. It’s the title of the damn book.

As a series I’d give it a rating of four out of five stars. Individually, the first book is great. The rest of them are interesting and well done, but I would probably struggle to determine if they were high 3’s or low 4’s, as far as stars go. I liked it. I would recommend it to someone who asked about the series, but I don’t know if I’d think to recommend the series to someone who just asked what to read/listen to next. Unfortunately, these will most likely just become a thing I listened to rather than a formative experience. Having said that, the story of Dave Duncan, that is an inspiring story for a middle-aged, wanna-be author.

I am a big fan of the audiobook. I spend a lot of time in the van and given the choice between the radio and an audiobook, I will choose the audiobook almost every time. Sure, I listen to the news first thing in the morning, sometimes I enjoy the Dan Patrick Show (sometimes I don’t), and I usually enjoy Fresh Air with Terry Gross while I eat my lunch, but the audiobook gets me through even when those other things fail to entertain me. I listen to fiction, nonfiction, lectures, educational stuff. I’m pretty open to what I’ll listen to, as the bar is so low. It takes almost no effort and just the right amount of attention to listen to a book.

If you’re done with all your nonsense, I’ll go back to listening to my audiobook!

Ronn McCarrick

I have an audible account that gives me two audiobook credits each month and I’m also a fan of Hoopla for audiobooks. I have to pay for audible, but Hoopla is free through your local library. Got a library card? You can probably use Hoopla. The selection isn’t as robust as audible, but I’m sure you can find something interesting to listen to in their collection. Here’s the trick, whichever you’re using, you want the unabridged book. The abridged versions are shorter, because you’re not getting the whole story. And that’s never good.

I don’t like having an earbud in while driving, so that’s not the answer. I may have to breakdown and pay for the radio repair out of my own pocket. Anyway, let’s look at how much listening I did in 2019, courtesy of some stats audible sent me.

I don’t have any stats for Hoopla, but I try to put my short reviews of each title up on facebook. I’d guess, I listened to less than a dozen Hoopla titles in 2019.

All these audible stats have the caveat that Lady Ronn and I both use a shared audible account. So these numbers are for the account, not necessarily for me personally. Mostly me. Yeah. She doesn’t listen near as much as I do, but just keep that in mind as we go through the numbers.

One of the big bummers in my day-to-day existence is that I can’t always hear my audiobooks while in the van. There are a few reasons for this. I am on the highway much of the time and the wind noise at those speeds is very loud in my service van. VERY LOUD. Which I can overcome with the radio volume, but the AUX port on my van is broken and the company doesn’t deem that a repair worth making. So I have to listen too my books through the phone’s speaker, which isn’t terribly loud. To make matters worse, the titles on audible seem to be mastered at a lower volume than those on Hoopla. Not that it makes much difference, but it is the difference between being barely able to hear a book and not being able to hear it.

A good narrator can make a good book great. A bad narrator, well, you can’t get past that.

I’m just sayin’

In 2019 I listened to audible for 529 hours and added 46 titles to my library. That library currently stands at 217 titles. I have probably listened to no more than a handful of those titles more than once. I started 2019 with Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie and Chuck Hogan and ended with Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (which I did not finish, because I didn’t like it). Between those two were 25 other audiobooks, including the 30h 9m monster that was Blackwater: The Complete Saga by Michael McDowell, which was a very good listen, by-the-by. If you add in the Hoopla stuff, I’m going through just over two a month.

I think my favorite audiobook of 2019 was Lost Gods by Brom, but it may just be the freshest in my mind. The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie was also very good. And if I were going to give you a top three, I guess I’d put The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski or Sharp Ends by Joe Abercrombie in the third spot, both were short story collections that inspired my own, And Don’t Come Back…, my current work in progress.

I haven’t posted reviews of my last three audiobooks. Currently, I’m working through the books in Dave Duncan’s The Seventh Sword series. The first three books were published in 1988, and when I realized there was a fourth book, published in 2012, I thought I’d listen to them all before making a judgement. I’m about halfway through book four right now. I read the first two books, in the way back times. Loved the first book, not so much the second. This time around I have different opinions about each of those and now I have opinions about the rest of the series. That’s coming soon.

Long before writing, people were telling each other stories and the audiobook goes all the way back to that tradition.

Philip Pullman

Anway, I love audio books. You should try them if you haven’t. The most common complaint I hear about them as a whole, is that the narration seems slow. But I will argue that the audible app gives you the choice of speeding up or slowing down the narration to suit your preference. You can set your playback speed from 0.5 to 3.5 times the standard narration speed. And if that isn’t fast enough for you… well, that’s pretty damn fast. It’s like having John Moschitta Jr. read the book to you. I cannot imagine that would be a pleasant experience, but it is an option for you.

Here’s my much delayed 2019 graphic and here’s hoping that everyone had a great New Year celebration and is ready to get started on 2019. If not, too bad. It’s already begun.

So, like everyone else, my email was full of year end summaries and reviews at the beginning of January. Let’s take a look at my info, or the bits that I find interesting anyway. The rest we’ll ignore. Nobody is interested in my health care summary, banking overview, or whatnot. Moving on.

Google Maps tells me that I traveled 25,141 miles in 2018. That’s about a trip around the world. And it’s no surprise to me that both my furthest and longest trip for the year was the drive south to visit my mother in Florida.

I was interested to see that I made 51 visits to The Home Depot, 33 visits to Lowe’s, and only 15 visits to Menards. All of those numbers seem very low to me, as it seems like I’m at one or more of those every day for work. It’s probable that those are numbers for individual stores, rather than for the chains as a whole.

In other Google news, I reached level 5 as a Local Guide. Yay me. I was level 4 at the end of 2017, so that’s something. Apparently, I made 310 contributions to Google; 13 reviews, 31 ratings, and more notably I answered 266 questions about various places. Somehow that puts me in the top 15% of Local Guides in Grand Rapids… must be a pretty low bar. Mostly I do restaurants, but I also answer questions about hardware stores and my client locations.

One of my favorite things is audio books. Now these numbers are from Audible and that’s an account I share with Lady Ronn, so keep that in mind as we go through this. Also, it doesn’t include anything I listened to on Hoopla or from my own personal collection. We’re on the 2 credits per month plan, one for me and one for her, but somehow, we managed to add 43 audio books to our collection in 2018. Must have been the sales and freebies. We listened to 354-hours, and I betting that was mostly me. I only reviewed 15 titles, but I gave star ratings to everything I listened to in 2018.

Lastly, I let the Baenrahl domain expire and I’ve deleted my Yahoo! Account (Yahoo, Flickr, whatever else that links to). I wasn’t using any of their stuff anyway and it’s all part of my half-assed internet housecleaning.

That’s enough about last year. Let’s get on with 2019.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons

I just finished listening to Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Dungeons & Dragons by Shelly Mazzanoble. Have you ever wondered about the female point of view at the gaming table? It’s maybe not what you were expecting. Or at least, Shelly, is not what I was expecting.
There’s not a lot of role playing meat here. It’s not a book on how to play D&D or full of adventure/campaign ideas. It’s also not any sort of self-help book as some of the blurbs imply. What is it? Something of a memoir or personal tell all. Really it’s just her talking about the life lessons she’s taken away from the gaming table and it’s fun, funny, and insightful.
This was a good listen. The narration was well done, the story flowed well and was interesting, but I could do without most of the sidebars. I wouldn’t say that I couldn’t put this down, but I did blast through it in two or three days of listening, which is pretty fast for me to go through a seven and a half hour recording. Shelly offers an insight into a life I find difficult to imagine… who talks to their mom every day? But it was interesting to me and I think it does a good job of taking away some of the stigma that gets built up around tabletop role playing. She is someone who I can totally see at the gaming table, and at the same time a person who I would not expect to be a gamer. But such is life and gamers are found in the most unlikely places. I enjoyed this book, even though there were large parts I couldn’t relate too. Shelly Mazzanoble does a great job of laying it all out on the table.

Woke up a bit late, 8 am, and got straight to work on my laundry. Made pancakes. Cleaned the garage a bit and put away the Christmas wreaths, before realizing that it was just too cold to try and use wood glue with any expectation of success.
I picked up the plywood to build the wide shelf/counter/desktop for the craftroom on Friday. But it’s an 11-foot span and I’m going to have to join two boards to make that work. In this weather, with no heat in the garage and no room in the basement, trying to put that together is just asking for a mess. I don’t want to fight with it. So, rather than making a mess that would just end up with me frustrated and needing to spend more money, I decided to let it be.
Instead, I moved the stuff back into the craftroom, straightened the basement,  put my tools in a reasonably organized pile, and brought in the new elliptical machine we found at the Salvation Army. I’ve been looking at them for a while, but they’re not cheap. This one is crap, but it’s cheap. If we use it with any regularity, then we can justify getting a better one. I don’t want another treadmill situation, here. We have enough places to hang laundry.
I finished listening to American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard (Narrated by: Walter Dixon, 12 hrs and 52 mins). It was a very interesting book and one that I am sure I will revisit in the future. See, the problem with listening to a book like this while driving around, is that you tend to miss things or not quite catch the particulars. So, I will go back to it again, because it really is a fascinating look at history from a different perspective.
An illuminating history of North America’s 11 rival cultural regions that explodes the red state/blue state myth.
North America was settled by people with distinct religious, political, and ethnographic characteristics, creating regional cultures that have been at odds with one another ever since. Subsequent immigrants didn’t confront or assimilate into an “American” or “Canadian” culture, but rather into one of the 11 distinct regional ones that spread over the continent, each staking out mutually exclusive territory.
In American Nations, Colin Woodard leads us on a journey through the history of our fractured continent and the rivalries and alliances between its component nations, which conform to neither state nor international boundaries. He illustrates and explains why “American” values vary sharply from one region to another.
Woodard reveals how intranational differences have played a pivotal role at every point in the continent’s history, from the American Revolution and the Civil War to the tumultuous sixties and the “blue county/red county” maps of recent presidential elections. American Nations is a revolutionary and revelatory take on America’s myriad identities and how the conflicts between them have shaped our past and are molding our future.
©2011 Colin Woodward (P)2011 Gildan Media Corp
I saw this map and an article explaining it and I wanted to know more. Now I do. The writing was interesting and not a dry historical text. The narration was well done and pleasant to listen to. And the information was eye opening. Red states and blue states certainly don’t cover the dynamic here. I also found the future predictions of these nations to be interesting and provocative.

american nations

I finished up some administrative stuff on my various websites, tried to work out the difference between arohen.com and ronnmccarrick.com (there isn’t one at this time), and worked on some graphics. Now I’m off to eat dinner and do some homework. Later.

The essential elements for building a world?
I hesitated in using a $12 credit to buy this one. It’s short. Really short. Audible says, 4 hours and 42 minutes, and I tend to not spend my audible credits on anything less than 10-hours long. But I fell for their marketing and took the creative leap towards creating dazzling worlds of my own. I shouldn’t have used my audible credit for this book.

maybe the PDF is a better choice

First, let’s talk positives. Everyone contributing to this book has serious RPG cred. There are essays by Keith Baker, Wolfgang Baur, David “Zeb” Cook, Monte Cook, Jeff Grubb, Scott Hungerford, Chris Pramas, Jonathan Roberts, Janna Silverstein, Michael A. Stackpole, and Steve Winter. The essays are good and offer solid, but rather vague advice. I think beginners will get more out of this than experienced world builders and game masters. Ray Greenley does a good job with the narration, but still comes off sounding like the friend with the pleasant voice who was convinced to narrate the book. He doesn’t add anything to the articles, but I wouldn’t say he detracts anything either. The introduction is by Ken Scholes, an author who I’ve never heard of with a series of books I’ve never heard of, so that’s a thing.
I’m apparently in the minority on this one, because this book was nominated for two Ennie Awards: Best Writing and Best RPG-Related Book. An Ennie is an award given by the RPG website ENWorld.
Why do I say I shouldn’t have used a credit on this book? It’s short and that makes for poor value. Also, as an experienced gamer and writer, I didn’t get much out of this. Each of these essays felt more like an article in a RPG magazine, only less focused. I was annoyed by the repeated product placement of the writers for their various game products, I get it, but it felt very intentional. Mostly, I was looking for insight and inspiration from these game designers. A peek behind the curtain, if you will. And that is not  what I got. Instead I was given a bunch of over generalized tips that I’ve read a hundred times in a hundred other places. The only things that I actually thought would be useful were the ideas on building and maintaining a ‘world bible’ and the organization of ‘world folders’, both of which will come in handy, but both of which all of the decision making, organization, and ideas behind are still left up to me.
It’s a decent book and one I would have happily paid $5 for and felt like it was a good value. But as with so much of the writing and gaming advice I read, I’ve seen it all before.  The reviews on both audible and amazon are more positive than what I’m saying here, so there is the possibility that I’m talking out my ass. I think I’ll stick to pdf’s for my gaming related stuff.

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent
By: Marie Brennan
Narrated by: Kate Reading
Series: Memoirs by Lady Trent, Book 1
Length: 10 hrs and 16 mins (Unabridged)
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Audible Rating: 4.3 (879 ratings)
I am convinced that I liked this book more than I think I did. It was good, but I kept telling myself that it really wasn’t my type of thing, and yet I finished it in two days. That kind of argues the point that maybe it was my kind of thing. And yet, I don’t feel any compulsion to rush out and get the next book in the Memoirs by Lady Trent series. Is that weird? It feels weird.
This is a Victorian Age novel that is not set in the Victorian Age. By which I mean, this isn’t on earth. Dragons!?! But that is the feel of the whole thing. Very Victorian in dress, attitude, and mannerism.
Lady Trent, herself. Interestingly, this is told from the point of view of a woman who has long since retired and is looking back on her adventures and discoveries with a very pragmatic and realistic point of view. She’s a charming old broad who is both at home with who she is and what she’s done and provides for an entertaining and amusing narrator.
The dragons are just creatures. She could be studying kangaroos and get mostly the same stories. These are natural creatures, not the gold hording intelligent creatures found in most fantasy settings. Which is a refreshing and interesting take on the idea.
You get plenty of science, politics, and adventure throughout. There are ruins of some past civilization with a whole set of mysteries that I’m sure are explored in later books. There are five books in the series as of this writing. It’s a little like Indiana Jones in a dress. Adventure and exploration in a pseudo-Victorian age. It was not the book I thought I was getting, and yet turned out to be more entertaining than I would have expected. Good stuff

“The truth? What the Hell is the truth? We’re born, we live and we die. Everything else is just shades of opinion.”

Book three in the Jon Shannow series and the end of his part in the Sipstrassi, the Stones of Power.  After 20 years of peace and pacifism, Jon Caid is pushed too far and laid low.  Thus making room for, Jon Shannow, the legendary Jerusalem Man,  to return for a deadly showdown with the fiendish Deacon, the vicious Jerusalem Riders, and a monstrous god that feeds on souls.
Let’s see what we have here… We’ve got magic in the Sipstrassi. It’s a post-apocalyptic world after the “turn”. It’s a western. There’s time travel. A bunch of religion. There’s dimension travel.  There’s an exploration of pacifism vs the way of the gun. And it’s all done so well. I really enjoyed this book, and the whole series. But then I expected to, David Gemmell being one of my favorite authors. Christian Rodska does a great job with the narration and really captures the feel of the story.
I want more. But alas, we lost David Gemmell a few years back, so there will be no further tales from him. This was a very satisfying conclusion to a very good series. If you’re looking for something in the western, fantasy, post-apocalypse, suspenseful action genre, this should fit the bill nicely. Heck, read or listen to the whole series about a post-apocalyptic gunslinger that is known as the Jerusalem Man on his quest for that lost, fabled city.

these are the paperbacks on my shelf

I must say that I love audible.com. I have the 2-credit a month plan, Lady Ronn and myself split the credits. That runs $23/month and while it seems pricey, I think it’s worth it. Sure, I use hoopla, I rent stuff at the library, and I have a lot of stuff on my computer, but audible has this awesome feature that lets you pick up where you left off on any device you’re using. Which makes it super convenient to switch between the van, the car, and my desktop at home. I’m a fan. This is just a little free advertising for them. Later.
give it a listen, audible.com

“Jon Shannow, the King of Kings has spoken the words of your death. I am Rhodaeul the Hunter. Do you have anything to say before you die?’ ‘No,’ said Shannow, palming his gun and blasting Rhodaeul from the saddle. The Atlantean hit the ground hard, a hammering pain in his chest; he tried to draw his pistol, but Shannow rode forward and fired a second shot that smashed his skull.” 

The Last Guardian is a 1989 British post-apocalyptic Heroic fantasy novel written by bestselling British author David Gemmell.
The Last Guardian is set in the same world as Wolf in Shadow, but set two years later. The Hellborn are no longer a threat, all but two of the Guardians are dead, and the largest source of Sipstrassi has been destroyed. Additional details of the world are also revealed throughout the story, and it is revealed that the sinking of the city of Atlantis during the first “fall”,  is also the origin source of the story of Noah’s ark.
I enjoyed this one. The narration by Christian Rodska was spot on. David Gemmell’s story was good and the world he’s created is interesting. I’m very glad that these stories have finally made it to audible. I looking forward to finishing up the trilogy and then going back to find the other books in The Stones of Power series. That featured image is the Luis Royo painting for the original cover.

Written by Alan Moore
Narrated by Simon Vance
2016 | 60 hours, 41 minutes | 600,000 words

Publisher’s Summary
Winner, 2017 APA Audie Awards – Best Male Narrator
Fierce in its imagining and stupefying in its scope, Jerusalem is the tale of everything, told from a vanished gutter.
In the epic novel Jerusalem, Alan Moore channels both the ecstatic visions of William Blake and the theoretical physics of Albert Einstein through the hardscrabble streets and alleys of his hometown of Northampton, UK. In the half a square mile of decay and demolition that was England’s Saxon capital, eternity is loitering between the firetrap housing projects. Embedded in the grubby amber of the district’s narrative, among its saints, kings, prostitutes, and derelicts, a different kind of human time is happening, a soiled simultaneity that does not differentiate between the petrol-colored puddles and the fractured dreams of those who navigate them.
Employing a kaleidoscope of literary forms and styles that range from brutal social realism to extravagant children’s fantasy, from modern stage drama to the extremes of science fiction, Jerusalem‘s dizzyingly rich cast of characters includes the living, the dead, the celestial, and the infernal in an intricately woven tapestry that presents a vision of an absolute and timeless human reality in all of its exquisite, comical, and heartbreaking splendor.
In these minutes lurk demons from the second-century Book of Tobit and angels with golden blood who reduce fate to a snooker tournament. Vagrants, prostitutes, and ghosts rub shoulders with Oliver Cromwell; Samuel Beckett; James Joyce’s tragic daughter, Lucia; and Buffalo Bill, among many others. There is a conversation in the thunderstruck dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, childbirth on the cobblestones of Lambeth Walk, an estranged couple sitting all night on the cold steps of a Gothic church front, and an infant choking on a cough drop for 11 chapters. An art exhibition is in preparation, and above the world a naked old man and a beautiful dead baby race along the Attics of the Breath toward the heat death of the universe.
An opulent mythology for those without a pot to piss in, through the labyrinthine streets and minutes of Jerusalem tread ghosts that sing of wealth, poverty, and our threadbare millennium. They discuss English as a visionary language from John Bunyan to James Joyce, hold forth on the illusion of mortality post-Einstein, and insist upon the meanest slum as Blake’s eternal holy city.

This story is as crowded and convoluted as that summary makes it sound. And my thoughts on it… well, it’s a mixed-bag of brilliant and baffling storytelling. I was frustrated throughout and continually wondered what the story was… right up until the end. I’m still wondering that.
The narration of Simon Vance is top-notch and will pull you through this monster, despite the fact that you’re going to get lost multiple times throughout. The vision that is the creation of this story is mind-numbing, not just for its size and scope, but for its audacity. The sheer “what the hell are you talking about” nature that pervades the whole thing. There is a story here that runs throughout the novel, but it doesn’t really have a beginning or an end, and is chopped up so finely that it can be easily lost or missed entirely. I’ve seen a ton of 5-star reviews of this thing and maybe it deserves them. But having listened to the whole thing, i don’t know. Seriously, I don’t know. I wouldn’t, and won’t, give it 5-stars for that reason alone. Maybe this is a masterpiece that I’m just not quite getting. Or maybe, it seems just as likely that this is a self-indulgent, masturbatory piece of over-written and under edited author spunk. I think it’s somewhere between the two points, but has places where either description would apply.
I made it through the whole thing. I enjoyed large parts of it. There were sections I didn’t understand and parts that I didn’t think we’re necessary. As a whole I found it unsatisfying. In bits and pieces I thought it was really interesting and well done. I’m glad that I listen to it, but I imagine I will never revisit it. In my audible review, I gave the narration 5-stars (because it was great) and the story 3-stars (because it wandered all over the place and seemed unfocused), you might think that results in a 4-star review. You’d be wrong.

I picked this collection from audible.com  earlier this week, all 22 of the Oz books written by L. Frank Baum. Outside of the classic movie and those Wicked novels, I really haven’t had any exposure to the Land of Oz. I didn’t read those books as a child, but as an adult I find myself being curious about the whole thing.
I’ve finished the first book and better than halfway through the second at this point. These are definitely, unmistakably children’s books. They are not unenjoyable, but they don’t hold much for an adult reader to bite into.
The first book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was fun, because I was comparing it to the movie. The are definitely differences. I’ll let you read, or listen, for yourself to discover what they may be. But the second book holds less interest for me and I find myself becoming a little bored with it all. Not good, given that I have 21 more books and something like 85-hours of audio remaining.
I’m certain that I will not be listening to all these in one mad dash to the end. I think I’ll speak them out in blocks of three or four. Fortunately,  they’re relatively short.
I’ll give you additional updates as I get further into this series.
The Complete Wizard of OZ by L. Frank Baum, narrated by Eric Vincent


Not too long ago I listened to the first two Tarzan novels on audiobook. In particular, I picked up The Tarzan Duology from audible,  narrated by Finn J.D. John. The books are pretty different from the old TV shows. In a ‘way better’ sort of way. With the 20% off coupon Barnes & Noble sent me this week, I picked up the leather bound collection of the first three Tarzan stories. Over the weekend I took advantage of the Audible 2-for-1 sale and picked up The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. And now this…

I like Alexander Skarsgård, or rather I liked him in True Blood, not so much in Battleship. This movie isn’t starting at the beginning; Tarzan, having acclimated to life in London, is called back to his former home in the jungle to investigate the activities at a mining encampment. So I shouldn’t have to cringe every time they get the book wrong… But they already did that in the trailer… damn, Hollywood. The CG looks good. It’s not a superhero movie. It’s Tarzan. I’ll give this one a shot. Hopefully they will do more justice to this Edgar Rice Burroughs property than they did to John Carter of Mars.